The Tennessee legislature just took a major step forward in the culture war, fighting to protect the eyes and innocence of children by banning drag shows from occurring in front of kids. That bill, SB 0003, has now been passed by both the Tennessee House and Senate and is headed to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee. The bill’s summary provides that (emphasis ours):
This bill creates an offense for a person who engages in an adult cabaret performance on public property or in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult. The bill defines an “adult cabaret performance” to mean a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration.
A first violation of this offense is a Class A misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent violation of this offense is a Class E felony.
To ensure that the law is followed by even leftist communities that want to allow drag shows for kids, the bill expressly:
(1) Preempts an ordinance, regulation, restriction, or license that was lawfully adopted or issued by a political subdivision prior to July 1, 2023, that is in conflict with this bill; and
(2) Prevents or preempts a political subdivision from enacting and enforcing in the future other ordinances, regulations, restrictions, or licenses that are in conflict with this bill.
State Rep. Chris Todd, a Republican, is the one who filed the bill. Describing it to The Tennessean, he said “this is a common sense child-safety bill.” The Tennessean also notes that Todd “filed the legislation after he fought a public Pride drag show in Jackson, Tennessee. Todd at the time called the drag show ‘child abuse.’”
Tennessee’s Senate Majority Leader, Jack Johnson, commented on the bill as well. Posting about it on Twitter, he said “Once again, Tennessee leads the nation. We’re committed to ensuring Tennessee is the safest place to raise your family. This is a huge win for our state, and we’ll continue working to protect our kids.” Sen. Johnson also said “The intent of the legislation is just to simply say that you cannot have sexually explicit entertainment … in a public venue where kids might be present.”
Predictably, the perverts freaked out. NBC News quotes Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, as saying “This can go down a very bad path quickly. You could be harassed increasingly for being trans and nonbinary in public.” The same article quotes a draq queen named “Veronika” as wringing his hands with worry about the consequences of performing in front of kids.
Similarly, a Memphis-area news source quotes local drag performers as being upset that they can no longer act perform in front of kids. But the bill bans “entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest” from being performed in front of kids, so why are they so insistent on the bill being devastating? Is it really that problematic that they can no longer act lewdly in front of kids?
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