Carencro Council Refuses to Amend Obscenity Law for Adult Store
The Carencro City Council is refusing to change its obscenity ordinance to allow an adult novelty shop to operate.
The owners of Crave Romance Boutique say the ordinance is overly vague and presents a First Amendment issue, but residents say the council is making the right decision.
“I want to be a good neighbor here in Carencro," Mike Menard, the owner of Crave Romance Boutique, told the Carencro City Council on Monday night.
He said the problems he’s facing stem from another business that once operated in the city.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people," Menard said. "What I’ve gathered is about 18 years ago is that this town was in an abusive relationship with the strip club. The word 'Desperado’s' has come out of everybody’s mouth that I talked to, and I understand that. I’ve heard some stories.”
“What I’m hoping we can do here is that that abusive relationship you had in the past, I’m hoping we can let some of that healing begin today," Menard continued. "Let’s kinda get to a better place, I think."
Menard says his “adult shop” is a safe space for individuals to learn about their sexual health.
He also says other businesses in Carencro—including Walmart, Walgreens, and Amazon—sell the same items he sells.
Still, several residents who spoke at the council meeting applauded the council’s decision to restrict the business.
Quinn Hebert says the city government has a responsibility to “protect the public good.”
“This city has exercised a legitimate function of government in creating an obscenity law," Hebert said as he addressed the council. “I find it ironic that Mr. Menard compares Crave to Walmart. The standards repeatedly say ‘on the whole’ what is the business or the function of work as a whole. I don’t think anybody would confuse Walmart or Amazon, for that matter, with a sex shop.”
James Mayard also opposes the store.
“The thought that the council in Carencro was knee-jerk reacting when they established an ordinance is foolishness," Mayard told the council. "It actually to me shows that they were forward thinking. And I appreciate that they've been forward thinking because, you know, I have children. I have grandchildren. Not only do I have children and grandchildren, but I have friends, and I don’t want for my friends to gratify some lust.”
Mayor Glenn Brasseaux closed the discussion with a matter-of-fact statement.
“Here’s the situation: There’s an ordinance that was passed many years ago that is in effect today," Brasseaux said. "In other words, they can open the business, but there are certain items that can’t be sold. That puts tremendous pressure on the police department. It’s a shame that they would have to enforce it. The law is the law.”
Under the Carencro obscenity ordinance, the sale of sex toys is prohibited. The question becomes: Is that section of the law constitutional under the three-pronged test set forth by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the 1975 case Miller v. California. According to the United States Department of Justice, the three prongs are:
1) Whether the average person, applying contemporary adult community standards, finds that the matter, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests (i.e., an erotic, lascivious, abnormal, unhealthy, degrading, shameful, or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion);
2) Whether the average person, applying contemporary adult community standards, finds that the matter depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way (i.e., ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals, or sado-masochistic sexual abuse); and
3) Whether a reasonable person finds that the matter, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Any material that satisfies this three-pronged test may be found obscene.
Simply put: A judge or jury would have to decide if the materials sold by Crave appeal to "a morbid, degrading, or excessive interest in sexual matters" before deciding if they are "patently offensive" and lack artistic, political, scientific, or literary value.
Menard feels he would win any potential case. He says of the 5,000 people in his Lafayette store’s database, “many” of them live in Carencro. Menard did not provide a specific number of customers with Carencro addresses.
You can watch Monday's Carencro City Council meeting, including the full discussion about Crave's proposed location, by clicking here.
For a full analysis of American obscenity law and case studies related to obscenity in the United States, click here.
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