Service with a Smile
Pasadena, Maryland--Anne Arundel County police report breaking up a prostitution ring operating at what they described as a "full service" gas station in the town of Pasadena. For a fee, police said, a mechanic would arrange for customers to have sex with a prostitute in the back seat of a car that was raised above viewing level on a hydraulic grease rack. One of the station's owners was charged with maintaining a disorderly house and a man and two women were also arrested on prostitution-related charges.
Doesn't Pay to Advertise
New York--The New York City Transit Authority has decided to divest its buses of the 27-foot signs reading, Have Fun at the Whorehouse. The signs, advertising the Broadway musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," were generating too many complaints. A T.A. spokesman said, "Since we are a public transportation agency ... certain sensibilities must be considered."
Old Rumors Never Die
Washington, D.C.--The Federal Communications Commission is trying to figure out a way to convince a few million Americans that it is not considering any proposals by Madalyn Murray O'Hair to end religious programing on radio and television. Since that rumor got started several years ago, an FCC spokesman said, the agency has received some 9,000,000 letters protesting the idea and denouncing Mrs. O'Hair, the activist atheist whose lawsuit ended prayers in public schools. The letters still are coming in at the rate of nearly 2000 a day. Mrs. O'Hair, president of American Atheists in Austin, Texas, denied any efforts to block such programing: "If those idiots desire to have religious broadcasting piped into their homes, they have a right to their insanity."
Letters of the Law
Los Angeles--In the case of two men convicted of dealing in obscene films, two appellate justices reversed the convictions on the ground that the police who watched them through binoculars violated their reasonable right of privacy. A third justice strongly disagreed, condemning leniency for so-called victimless crimes, in a 45-page dissent. To this, the first two justices responded in a footnote as follows:
• Some answer is required to the dissent's charge.
• Certainly we do not endorse victimless crime.
• How that question is involved escapes us.
• Moreover, the constitutional issue is significant.
• Ultimately, it must be addressed in light of precedent.
• Certainly, the course of precedent is clear.
• Knowing that, our result is compelled.
Attorneys studying the decision are not certain what to make of the fact that the first letters of each sentence spell out SCHMUCK.
Federal Marijuana Bill
Washington, D.C.--Seven members of the U. S. Senate have introduced a bill that would eliminate Federal criminal penalties for private possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. If passed, the bill would bring Federal law into line with the laws of the 11 states that have decriminalized small amounts of pot, making simple possession a civil violation punishable only by a fine. Similar measures are expected to be introduced in the House.
Berkeley, California--Berkeley voters have approved an initiative requiring the police department to make enforcement of marijuana laws its "lowest priority." The measure further prohibits the city from spending locally collected tax revenues to combat pot.
The Tie that Binds
Williston, North Dakota--When a young man struggled into local police headquarters with a ball and chain padlocked to his ankle, officers listened to his story, applied boltcutters and sent him on his way. It seems he was a prospective bridegroom who was given a stag party and then victimized by his friends. In the course of their celebrating, his friends lost the key.
Washington, D.C.--By a vote of six to three, the U. S. Supreme Court has struck dozen slate laws providing that husbands but not wives may be required to pay alimony. The decision, based on the Constitution's equal-protection clause, voids an Alabama law specifically and effectively invalidates similar laws in ten other slates. Writing for the majority, Associate Justice William I. Brennan said, "The old notion that generally it is the man's primary responsibility to provide a home and its essentials can no longer justify a statute that discriminates on the basis of gender." He added that the protection of the needier spouse in any given divorce is a legitimate state objective but one that must be achieved by an alimony law that is "gender-neutral." The decision is not expected to affect alimony agreements already in force.
Washington, D.C.--The Food and Drug Administration has announced the seizure of defective condoms stored in warehouses in Denver, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Atlanta and other cities. The FDA secured court orders to confiscate the prophylactics after inspectors discovered flaws and filed a complaint charging that the product was mislabeled under Federal law. The complaint alleges that the manufacturer wrongly described the rubbers, "in that the label statement 'one of the best aids in the prevention of pregnancy and venereal disease' is false and misleading as applied to a product containing holes."
In the Name of Allah
Enzeli, Iran--The governor of the resort town of Enzeli has decreed that men and women use separate beaches. The ruling is intended to promote public decency in compliance with religious principles being enforced by the country's new Islamic government.
• The military government of Pakistan has proclaimed the following penalties for violations of Islamic law: Married persons convicted of adultery will be stoned to death; thieves' hands will be amputated; and drinkers of alcohol will be subject to 80 lashes.
• In Kuala Lumpur, the Islamic Affairs Department of Malaysia's Negri Sembilan state has warned about 5000 employees at a large industrial estate against committing khalwat--fornication--during working hours. The department's chairman did not specify the punishment but said it would be severe.
New York City--A physician associated with New York's Neurological Institute has reported two cases of persons suffering temporary amnesia as a result of sexual intercourse. Writing to the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Richard Mayeux called the disorder transient global amnesia and said it was caused by lack of blood in the brain due to physical exertion. He added that both patients, a 47-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman, regained their memories several hours later, with no aftereffects, and indicated that the problem seems not to occur more than once.
Columbus, Ohio--A finger is not legally an object, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled in the appeal of a Cincinnati man convicted of felonious sexual penetration. The man had robbed a woman at knife point and then inserted his finger into her vagina. While Ohio law specifies that "No person without privilege to do so shall insert any instrument ... or other object into the vaginal or anal cavity of another," in previous cases, courts had determined that a sauce bottle and a pork-chop bone were objects, since they could be "seen, touched or otherwise sensed." In this case, the court concluded that such objects were inanimate and that a finger--being part of the human body--was not. The robbery conviction was not affected.
Anchorage, Alaska--Thanks to a television technician's mistake, the residents of some rural areas of Alaska were treated to five minutes of an uncensored R-rated movie that interrupted the scheduled program. The error occurred when an engineer accidentally mixed up the switching between regular network programing and bedroom scenes from a movie that was playing on Home Box Office cable TV. Both telecasts reach remote parts of Alaska by satellite transmission. One newspaper reported, that viewers seemed to be split about 50-50 on the incident--half upset with the erotic interruption and half with the speedy return to the original show.
Sparing the Rod
Stockholm--The Swedish Parliament, by a vote of 259 to 6, has passed a law prohibiting parents from striking or otherwise humiliating their children. The law does not specify punishment for offenders, on the assumption that complaints will be referred to family courts, and a government spokesman explained: "We have tried to make it clear that this is a pedagogic law. We hope to use [it] to change altitudes. If we launched a big campaign on the subject, it probably would be forgotten in a year. But the law stays, and it enters the public consciousness." The magistrate who wrote the legislation said it was based on hearings in which expert testimony "showed overwhelmingly that children just do not respond when they are hit or threatened. Their reaction is the opposite. They think in terms of revenge, and they can live in fear."