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February 08, 2016

Dallas Conservatives Still Up In Arms About Exxxotica's Coming

DALLAS, Tex.—This Wednesday, February 10, will be an interesting day for the city of Dallas. That's the day when the Mayor and City Council will meet to decide how much taxpayer money they're willing to lose by 1) keeping the very popular, well attended Exxxotica Lifestyle Convention out of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center by denying the convention's owner, Three Expo Events, LLC a contract to put on the event there, thereby losing the rental fee for the hall, not to mention all the money those attendees would have fed into the local economy, and 2) how much they'll be willing to "donate" to Three Expo when it sues them for discrimination for having turned down the contract for no other reason than that the Mayor and Council don't like Exxxotica's brand of sexual speech. Since we last wrote about this impending fiasco, a couple of new players have joined the anti-porn "cause," the most notable being Ray Lee Hunt, the billionaire oilman son of thrice-married oil millionaire/moralist H.L. Hunt, who got rich by parlaying his last $100 into $100,000 at a New Orleans casino and investing the loot in oil fields. According to the Dallas Morning News, Ray Lee Hunt owns more than 30 acres in downtown Dallas, including the Hyatt Regency hotel, Union Station, the Reunion Tower (considered Dallas' tallest and most recognizable landmark) and the "Reunion Arena parking garage's air rights"—so it's probably fair to say that when Hunt says "Jump," the Mayor and Council break out the yardsticks. "Obviously, 'Freedom of Speech' is foundational to American society—and my letter does not question the right of Exxxotica to have a 'convention,'" Hunt, who apparently has difficulty understanding what a "convention" is, wrote in a letter to council members. "The real issue is the venue and whether the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is the proper venue for an Exxxotica 'convention' versus some other venue in the greater Dallas area that is not owned by the City of Dallas and is more than 1,000 feet from the set of 'protected' activities and uses in that portion of Dallas' City Code which deals with sexually-oriented businesses." Trouble is, "that portion of Dallas' City Code which deals with sexually-oriented businesses," which can be found here, has no application to Exxxotica renting the convention center. It deals with licensing of and restrictions on sexually oriented businesses, but nothing in the code's definitions includes anything about exhibiting adult materials at a convention, except of course for the prohibition against minors being given access—something Exxxotica's management has been very careful about in all of their venues. Also bent out of shape by the impending convention rental agreement is the organization New Friends New Life, which claims to "restore[] and empower[] formerly trafficked girls and sexually exploited women and their children," and which wrote an "Open Letter to the Citizens of Dallas," wherein the group, besides also claiming the convention would violate the City Code, describes Exxxotica as "arguably little more than a traveling strip club, adult book store, and promoter of the sex trade." But apparently the primary person to blame when Dallas gets socked with thousands of dollars in legal fees will be Mayor Mike Rawlings, who had little problem with Exxxotica when it rented the convention center last August, but recently asked the city attorney's office to draft the Council resolution that, if passed, would direct the City Manager not to enter into the contract with Three Expo Events, even though they would have just as much right to rent the convention center as any other legal entity. "My concern is to do the right thing as the mayor of Dallas," Rawlings told the Dallas Morning News. "Each of us as members of the council has to make that decision weighing all aspects. I have done that, and what’s why I put it on the agenda." Thankfully, not everyone on the Council agrees. "If the mayor wants us to chase convention business, this is what it looks like. Even the dentists, a group I assume meets [the mayor's] approval, love Exxxotica," said council member Philip Kingston, referring to the Southwest Dental Conference which was at the convention center at the same time as Exxxotica last August. "If we’re going to compete with Vegas, we have to be prepared to get a little Vegas on us." The Dallas Morning News's editorial board was even more upfront about the situation. "We don’t like this sexpo's content any more than Rawlings and other critics do," the editors wrote. "The 'Comic-con for porn' sends a terrible message about the objectification and exploitation of women, possibly even undermining efforts to combat human trafficking. "But, as we wrote before Exxxotica came to town last year, many disgusting messages exist in the marketplace of ideas," the editorial continued. "And none of them empowers a government agency to bar an otherwise legal enterprise from a publicly owned building based solely on content... A vote to prohibit Exxxotica from returning to the city-owned convention seems only an invitation for Dallas taxpayers to fund a loser of a lawsuit." Now, let's see what happens on Wednesday!

 
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