The Federal Communications Commission’s five members—all college-educated adults over 40—continued exposing their obsession with sex and women’s bodies yesterday, fining ABC TV stations $1.4 million for showing 2.5 seconds of a woman’s bare butt.And then I hear this on the news on the way home.
You can view the offending butt-clip here. It’s a rear view of a woman taking off her robe to shower. A kid accidentally walks in on her, and they’re both embarrassed. She covers up her boobies and woo-woo with her hands, and the kid retreats as fast as he can. It’s charming, it’s real, and it has nothing to do with sex.
Last weekend, a Beach police officer at Lynnhaven Mall gave Abercrombie & Fitch thousands - maybe millions - of dollars worth of publicity by seizing two sexy posters and slapping an obscenity charge on the hapless store manager.
The offending posters were those arty black-and-white photos for which the clothing chain is famous. One showed shirtless males, one flashing a little bit of buttocks. The other featured a female showing not quite as much as Virtus.
Abercrombie & Fitch got free advertising. Virginia Beach got a free kick in the derriere.
By Monday afternoon, after police brass learned that the obscenity story was burning up the news and the blogosphere, Beach officials acted - b ut not before readers of The Drudge Report were exposed to the lunacy and the story was one of the most popular on Yahoo.
It was decided that the obscenity charge should be dropped and the posters returned.
One detail remains. Even after the matter is dismissed by the court, an innocent store manager will have an obscenity offense on his record.
"We would take the lead in getting the courts to expunge that," Deputy police Chief Jim Cervera assured me.
Officials did the right thing in mopping up this mess. But it raises questions about the procedure. Seems to me, cops ought to consult the city or commonwealth's attorney before lodging obscenity charges against a business.
That didn't happen, Cervera said.
According to news reports, an officer had asked the store manager to remove the posters last week. When he didn't comply, the place was raided.
One question: Since when are police in charge of mall decorations?
Every cop should know it's devilishly hard to make obscenity charges stick. There's that pesky matter of the First Amendment. Unless materials show private parts, it's almost impossible to get a conviction. These photographs aren't even close.