The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Great Lakes Booksellers Association and Big Hat Books, Indianapolis, have joined Media Coalition and other organizations in a suit filed yesterday against a new Indiana law requiring any store that sells a "sexually explicit" book, magazine, video or recording to register with the state and pay a $250 license fee.
"The law says Big Hat Books might be an 'adult' bookstore if we sell a single copy of Lolita," Big Hat owner Elizabeth Houghton Barden said in a statement. "Being classified as an adult bookstore basically puts us out of business."
ABFFE president Chris Finan observed: "This law is a shocking violation of our national commitment to maintain bookstores as a forum for the free exchange of ideas. We do not license bookstores in the United States."
The booksellers say the law is unconstitutional because it does not require that a book or magazine be judged as a whole in determining whether it is illegal--such a test may exempt works that contain only a few sexually explicit images or passages. In addition, there is no exemption for material that has serious literary artistic, political or scientific value for minors. Under the law, a bookseller can be prosecuted for allowing a 12-year-old to see a sex education book if it contains drawings depicting sexual conduct, even such a book written for minors.
Michael Powell, owner of Powell's, said, "For booksellers, the new law is vague and difficult to apply. It says a 13-year-old can legally buy these books, but it's a crime to sell them to a 12-year-old. How do I card a 12-year-old?"
Plaintiffs hope that there will be a hearing on their motion for a preliminary injunction before the law goes into effect on July 1.
There is some seriously scary stuff going on down in those united states.