NUDITY ORDINANCE - Aya Batrawy

05/18/04

Imagine a Hillsborough without nudity. No strip clubs, topless contests or nudity permitted anywhere but in the privacy of hotel rooms and homes.

"Citizens for Decency," a grassroots organization created to outlaw public nudity and push for higher community standards, says in less than two months, already 10,000 people in Hillsborough County have signed petitions make this a reality.

The group is comprised of citizens and religious community leaders who believe that the law should represent community standards.

The committee leaders pushing for this referendum are made up of Baptist pastors, the general manager of two local Christian radio stations and attorney David Gibbs, who is a member of the Christian Today a group of Tampa Bay Citizens met to talk about banning all kinds of public nudity. They're hoping to get their referendum on the ballot by this November. WMNF's Aya Batrawy has more on the debate surrounding the campaign to wipe out nudity.

Law Association.

Gibbs believes that the people of Hillsborough County should be given the chance to vote on making public nudity illegal. But before this can happen, the Hillsborough County Commission must first approve to put it on the ballot in November.

SOUNDBITE: people make the decision.

Gibbs argues that political and religious speech are not the same as public nudity. He says no one would send their kids off to war to protect erotic expression. But opposition to this bill will stem from the possible blanket ban on free this law could create.

SOUNBITE: too high

Gibbs says crime would decrease if public nudity were outlawed.

SOUNDBITE:

Tom Biles is the executive director of the Tampa Bay Baptist Association which says it represents 164 churches and 65,000 members. Biles directly relates public nudity to crime.

He also believes that banning public nudity will help families stay together.

SOUNDBITE: lonely wives

If this law passes, many adult businesses would be forced to shut down and therefore loose money. But Gibbs argues that the law will actually save Hillsborough County money, encourage economic growth and foster a family-friendly environment.

SOUNDBITE: money,

Biles explains the motivation behind this law is simple.

SOUNDBITE: biles

Yet for decades now the line articulating obscenity has NOT been clear.

Even the Supreme Court has struggled defining what is obscene and who decides the community's standards.

Gibbs says the law would leave no room for confusion. The punishment for breaking the law would be left up to the government to decide and if any business wants to continue allowing nudity then Gibbs wants to see them shut down.

SOUNBITE: law is

Tomorrow, "citizens for decency" are taking their plea to the County Commission and hoping that this November it'll be on the ballot.

For more on this law and to read the petition you can visit their website at www.citizensfordecency.com

Reporting for WMNF this is Aya Batrawy.

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