13 February 2010

Texas Tax On Strippers: Freedom or Ayatollahs?

Houston Chronicle: State high court will review legality of ‘pole tax’

The Texas Supreme Court has decided to review the legality of charging a $5-per-person “pole tax” to patrons of strip clubs and other adult entertainment venues, a case that has hinged on whether the government can tax content protected by the First Amendment.

The law, passed in the 2007 legislative session, originally directed revenues collected from the fee toward sexual abuse and violence treatment and prevention programs, but it has been mired in legal wrangling almost since it took effect in 2008.

David A. Furlow, a former Harris County prosecutor who has represented businesses in numerous cases involving First Amendment protections, said the central issue is whether the government can levy a tax on speech, such as a newspaper or TV show or dancing in a strip club, that has the effect of singling it out.

“When you say certain types of messages and certain types of entertainment can be taxed, you begin down a slippery slope that can allow the government to destroy a form of business by taxing it out of existence,” he said.

“You start down a pathway that could lead to censorship-based government like that which exists in Iran.”

Iran? Oh, well, since you put it like that -- let's see -- strippers or Iranian ayatollahs?

I guess I'll go with the strippers. Let freedom ring, baby.

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