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Plan B for Pleasures

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In 1998, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Alabama law banning the sale of any device used for the express purpose of sexual stimulation could stand because, "public morality trumps private expression." Alabama became one of six states that legally banned sex toys.

Sheri Williams, the owner of Pleasures -- an adult shop with two locations in Decatur and Huntsville -- filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court asking that the law be overturned. It was refused once. The original law, which was sponsored by Tom Butler, (D-Madison), was intended to ban nude dancing. But, he argued, amendments were added that included the ban.

Sheri wondered why, as a legislator, he didn't completely review the amendments before sponsoring the legislation questioning his authenticity and pondered if he was even doing his job. When I asked her about her plan B, she said she may be able to market dildos as medical devices, which would skirt the law. (Yay, for medical research!) She went on to say that she is thinking about rallying all adult shop owners in Alabama and raising funds to petition and then overturn the law.

She said when she was on the steps of the courthouse to the Supreme Court, a producer wanted to do a pilot of a new TV show with her case as the central theme upon which all other plots would revolve. She was even approached by MTV for a story. When I asked her if she had received any nasty or threatening phone calls or letters -- she was remarkably easy to track down -- she said no. In fact, she received an enormous outpouring of support. What struck me, though, was her grasp of how this issue straddles the left and the right -- freedom of expression vs. a hands off approach to business. And considering the makeup of the current Supreme Court, my guess is she won't have much success.