Wednesday, December 07, 2005

nuvo: matter of zoning and dominance

one thing to dislike about the nuvo website (other than the atrocious new design is the fact that it tends to take them until at least 11am to post content from the new issue to site. i don't know if this is an intentional strategy to encourage people to grab paper copies, a technical issue, laziness, procrastination, or what. but it's in stark contrast to most news publication websites, which tend to post new stories online before the print edition even comes out. today it took until around 12:15 for this week's content to show up online.

but now it's up, so i can link to paul pogue's new article about miss ann, titled matter of zoning and dominance. pogue also wrote nuvo's first story about miss ann back in 2003, a response to WRTV's original story that "outed" miss ann to the public (and the neighborhood).

the first few grafs of the story are basic review for those of us who've been following the story, so let's skip to paragraph 4:

"There are certain kinds of businesses that can be operated in the home, and we are taking the position that this is not one of them," city prosecutor Teri Kendrick said.

After media questioning about repeated use of the phrase "illegal adult businesses," Kendrick noted that neither The Reformatory nor the home business matters were considered criminal activity — nor were either legally classified as adult businesses.

"'Adult entertainment business' is a very technical term. This technically does not fit under any of those ... But you look up the word adult in the dictionary, one of the definitions of the word adult is activity of an adult nature," Kendrick said. "Kink and merchandise for sexual and erotic torture is ... not what the historic preservation commission had in mind when they granted a variance for gallery and studio space."

wha-huh? kendrick says that miss ann's businesses are not the kinds of businesses that can be run from the home, yet she concedes that they are not legally classified as "adult". so what kinds of businesses are they? will the city go after all businesses that fall under the same legal classification, whatever it is?

call me naive, but i thought the role of a prosecutor was to enforce the law by going after people who (allegedly) break the law... not to enforce the dictionary. the dictionary has no legal authority over anyone. it cannot issue subpoenas or testify in court. the dictionary doesn't even have much authority over logical debate: dictionaries are written and compiled by people, who are fallible and often disagree. in fact, the old "the dictionary says blah, therefore i'm right" is an excellent example of a logical fallacy known as appeal to authority.

in other words, just because "the dictionary" says something doesn't make it right. in cases like this, legal definitions are the only ones that truly matter, and kendrick acknowledged that miss ann's businesses were not "adult" by the legal definition. the city is using any derogatory terms it can think of, regardless of whether they actually apply, just like they used the term "sexual torture".

but let's move on to the end of the article:

By the end of the afternoon, both sides had laid down battle lines for the future. Donaghy said that she intends to fight the violations, and is attempting to get the ICLU involved and seek out community support. She's setting up a legal defense fund, in which an anonymous donor is matching donations, which will remain available for others with similar cases.

"I have a choice: I can lay down and bow down to them and give in, and let this affront to personal freedom go unchecked," Donaghy said. "However, if I have overwhelming community support to protect freedom in this city, I will fight … I am going to be leading an effort so that there is a legal fund in this city for people who practice these arts, so that their government doesn't run over them."

Peterson said that he would remain committed to maintaining neighborhood quality of life with strictly construed zoning laws.

"We're going to have to constantly fight this battle," Peterson said. "If you want to try to keep people from opening these kinds of businesses, you’re going to have to continue to fight all the time."

again, what are "these kinds of businesses"? they're not adult businesses. and mayor peterson doesn't say that he wants to keep people from opening these businesses in residential zones; simply that he wants to prevent people from opening them. maybe that's merely a slip of the tongue, and if someone wanted to open a dungeon on, say, pendleton pike near the strip clubs, bart wouldn't have a problem with that. or maybe it was more like a freudian slip, and bart truly meant what he said. i suspect it's the latter, but admit it could possibly be the former.

in other story developments, after i got a post on indiana blog review about this story, doug made an offhand comment about the story, linking here, in an otherwise unrelated post. so indiana's sub-blogosphere is starting to catch on to the story.

then this afternoon (in fact, while i was writing this post), someone left an anonymous comment on my previous post alleging that miss ann "was told several times" about her alleged zoning violation. if this were true, it seems like the kind of thing that the city would want to mention. if someone can give me a source for that allegation, i might accept it, but i've read just about everything that's been published about this story and i haven't heard that. and i'm not going to grant much weight to an anonymous comment that lists no sources.

update: miss ann responds to the anonymous commenter.

also, i forgot to mention earlier that the print edition of this week's nuvo is supposed to have a political cartoon by wayne bertsch about this story, but i haven't seen it and i don't think the cartoon is online.


stAllio! said...

the mayor's art initiatives have always been a little two-faced. he's definitely done some good work in terms of arts funding, and as a musician i have personally benefitted a little from a couple programs that received city grants. but generally only the "high" arts get much money.

and he has no qualms about restricting art when it's politically expedient. the local electronic music scene has never recovered from his misguided war on "raves" a few years ago (ostensibly about drugs) and now he's apparently turned his back on the erotic arts as well.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do think you are right about the "high" arts benefitting from the Mayor's Cultural Tourism Initiave and not the grass roots art culture that first drives all new art movements.

I wrote a well-researched and presented grant proposal (narrative is now linked from my website) to the Arts Council to ask for money to help produce The Erotic Arts Ball. This event put Indianapolis on all kinds of new international radar as an arts destination, as well as, a progressive and tolerant city. I heard through the grapevine three days before the proposal was mailed that I was turned down. This news came from a very reliable inside source. I spent 55 hours of my life writing that proposal and was offended they turned me down before reading it. I produced the wildly successful event anyway and funded it from my own pocket.

The Mayor would do well to recall what the established Arts thought of Impressionist and Modern Expressionist paintings or the Wharhol Factory when they first emerged in their respective eras.

All of these movements were first misunderstood Art. Censorship, controversy, and hardship are the price we pay for being ahead of our time as drivers of culture. I have always been interested in REAL culture, not manufactured historic villages and art that has been done to death.

A truly progressive city supports and values all of its cultural arts scenes and supports emerging and new ideas in Art.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that The Kinsey Institute seems to be following my lead and launching its own Erotic Art Show. Deadlines for entry for this show are February 3, 2006.

Anonymous said...

K...go to
for any website. This will tell you how that website is doing. Miss Ann does not even rank for traffic

Try your own and see what you get lol