Dem councilman wants to stalk legal patrons of strip club
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday December 5, 2008

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A New York City councilman who objects to the image of a scantily-clad woman which looms over a strip club in a residential neighborhood has decided to take the law into his own hands by photographing patrons of the club and posting the pictures online.

Councilman James Sanders Jr., a Queens Democrat, told the hosts of Fox & Friends on Friday, "We're going to creative civil disobedience to ensure that everybody who goes into that club has a picture taken, and if they are proud to go into the club, we are proud to put it on the web."

"The only problem is that legally, you may not be able to do that," commented host Gretchen Carlson.

The billboard above the club entrance, which depicts a woman whose full breasts are covered only by a narrow strip of cloth over the nipples, is no more revealing than many comic book and video game images. However, Fox News, which showed the full image in the first tease for the story, later pixelated over the breast area and cropped the bottom, creating the impression that the figure might be nude and making the image appear far more lurid.

"We have children," Councilman Sanders explained in justification of his actions. "And any time anyone puts a 25 foot tall display, that they call a sign, on a major intersection where our children have to go to school -- this insult to women, this insult to our community -- we're going to take action."

"We did a mass meeting and had more than 300 people there," Sanders added. "In fact, they wanted to take worse actions than I'm speaking about. We're going to keep this legal."

Fox's legal expert, Judge Andrew Napolitano, then came onto the set, saying, "I have been watching this, and unfortunately the first amendment has some things to say about it."

Sanders acknowledged that "the club is a legal establishment and they are obeying all of the zoning laws," but he continued to claim, "They can advertise, they just don't have to inflict pornography on us."

"Under New York State law," Napolitano explained, "it's not pornographic. ... And as repellant as the business is, it's a lawful business."

"There are community standards," Sanders insisted, "and in our community this is not part of the standards."

"If you want to argue that it violates the community standards, then you have to go to court and get a judge to agree," Napolitano stated. "In my opinion, it's not pornographic, because New York's law is very, very, very broad."

"Where have we come, if that's not pornographic?" Carlson asked. "It looks pretty pornographic to me."

Billboards which publicly push the grounds of good taste have recently raised protests in major cities from Cleveland to Toronto and have been the subject of campaigns by conservative religious groups. Actor turned born-again Christian Stephen Baldwin attracted attention in 2006 when he announced plans to photograph patrons of a sex shop outside Nyack, NY.

Sanders, described by the Daily News as "a former Marine with a maverick reputation," gained attention last spring by campaigning for Barack Obama while most New York City Democrats were supporting Hillary Clinton. The News reported at that time that Sanders was hoping for a job in Washington if Obama won -- and that contenders for his council seat might include both his ex-wife and his current wife, who is his former chief of staff.

This video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast Dec. 5, 2008.

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