Sin Taxes Gone Wild: Neopuritanism and the Texas ‘Pole Tax’

The Texas state legislature is often hard to distinguish from a home for the criminally insane, but with a new piece of legislative chicanery they’ve managed to combine opportunistic anti-business tax exploitation and pandering to religious and moral extremists into a perfect turd sculpture of bad legislation.

On New Years day a new tax, referred to facetiously as the ‘pole tax’, will go into effect on strip clubs across the state. It’s a flat $5 surcharge on every admittance to every strip joint no matter how large or small, tacked onto whatever cover they charge. It’s the ultimate sin tax which combines revenue raising with social stygmatization and repression of sexuality.

The economic impact is obvious. The big strip clubs will laugh it off because they make a fortune on drinks and their clients can laugh off the extra $5. The small clubs in the small towns will go under because their customers can barely afford the modest covers and minimums they already charge. So some small-town strippers go back to working at Dairy Queen and some Baptist preachers smirk when they walk by another empty building in another dying downtown. The tax will probably even help the big operators by driving more of the low-end customers into their venues for as long as they can afford it.

On the surface it’s a cliche of bible belt hypocrisy. The legislators take ecdysiastic joy away from the working stiffs while making life a little better for the Lotus driving panderers who put the tits in their lunch hour titillation. It’s what you’d expect in Texas, or at lest in Waco where the buckle on the bible belt will probably shine a little brighter next week.

But wait, there’s more – the ‘blossom’ on the turd, to use a popular Texas term. The estimated $40 million which will be raised by this tax is earmarked to pay for rape counseling and victim services and every possible program to help victimized women. In and of itself that’s hardly a bad thing, and State Representative Ellen Cohen (D-Houston) surely has the best of intentions in mind. Rape is bad. Raising money to help rape victims is clearly good.

However, doing that good work with a tax tied directly to adult entertainment does a hell of a lot more than just help out victims. It establishes a clear relationship, enshrined in law, between those businesses and the victimization of women by rapists.

It may be arguable that strip clubs victimize women in their own way, but there has never been a legitimate scientific study linking adult entertainment with rape in any causal way, and the existence of such a relationship is largely a fantasy in the mind of the feminist left. Rape is a crime of violence not eroticism, and psychologically the sexual aspect of it is largely secondary to issues of dominance and power.

This law is a coup for the perspective which links harmless male sexual fantasies to the actions of violent predators, a virulently anti-male form of bigotry which the Texas state legislature has now foolishly legitimized in its headlong rush to pander to the forces of moral righteousness. They have effectively stated to the world that there is a direct association between every horny college student who pays that $5 tax and the rapists whose victims that money goes to help.

Strip clubs are legal, and tying them to a heinous crime in this backhanded way is shameful. If there is an actual connection between adult entertainment and rape and it can be proven, then shut the clubs down. If not, then leave these legitimate businesses and their patrons alone and don’t attempt to associate them with crimes to which they have no meaningful connection.

Helping rape victims is great, but transferring responsibility away from the actual rapists and onto innocent men who are just seeking harmless titillation sends a very destructive message and legitimizes a moralistic bigotry which has historically done nothing but harm to society. It’s a modern-day manifestation of the kind of puritanical mentality which drives what ought to be a healthy expression of sexuality into the darkness where it can become unhealthy and perverse.

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About Dave 536 Articles
Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at IdiotWars.com.

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