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    Sidebar: by Dan Abrams

    Mississippi outlaws sex toys

    • March 21, 2006 | 9:20 a.m. ET

    Mississippi outlaws sex toys (Dan Abrams)

    There is a landmark legal battle of constitutional proportions being fought down in Mississippi. It involves fundamental rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, not to mention the rights of certain small business owners to satisfy their customers. This week, another court refused to recognize Mississippians’ right to find companionship for 29.99 and so a law outlawing the sale of sex toys will stand.

    “A person commits the offense of distributing unlawful sexual devices when he knowingly sells, advertises, publishes or exhibits to any person any three-dimensional device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs or offers to do so or possesses such devices with the intent to do so.”

    Well, I am glad to see that the local legislators are focusing on the most pressing issues of the day. I’ve long believed that a three-dimensional, possibly battery-operated device is far more menacing than a handgun. In Mississippi, people can buy guns at a gun show with no background check and certain weapons can be carried almost anywhere. Sure, guns and toys can bring joy and a sense of comfort to the user, but apparently the legislators concluded that a genital replica is a far greater threat to society.

    This, from a state that levies only an 18-cent tax on cigarettes, 55 cents below the national average and where 62 percent of residents are overweight, making it the fattest state in the country. Yet still the public schools don’t make gym class compulsory. Mississippi’s laws would make you believe sex is the single greatest threat to public safety and well-being. After all, it’s illegal in Mississippi to have sex with someone you’re not married to or to live with someone other than your spouse.

    Both can result in a $500 fine and six months in jail. And men are not permitted to be aroused in public. But at least good people are protected from the disfigurement that could result from an accidental electrical overload from a defective toy.

    Georgia and Texas have passed similar bans and courts have repeatedly ruled the legislators have the power to do it. I guess the Second Amendment doesn’t say anything about the right to bear a stimulation device.

    But the sex activists are not closing up shop in the South Pole just yet. They formed a lobbying group based in Florida called the National Alliance of Adult Trade Organizations or NAATO. Not, of course, to be confused with the other NATO, which is based in Brussels.

    I don’t mean to pick on Mississippi. I love the state and the people, but I just don’t get why the legislators are fighting so hard for this law. We’re talking about adults here. It’s not that I really care about ensuring that these toys are ready accessible. Really. It’s just that you have to wonder, is one of these toys really a greater threat to the community than what real live people do to each other every day?

    omments? Email Sidebar@msnbc.com
    Watch The Abrams Report M-F at 4 & 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV

    • March 17, 2006 | 3:37 p.m. ET

    Is sleeping hazardous to your health? (Dan Abrams)


    You may want to think twice before going to sleep.

    Not really, but that’s how I feel reading recent news reports that sleeping can be hazardous to our health and to those around us. Recent studies indicate the popular prescription sleeping pill Ambien, prescribed to 26.5 million people last year, is leading some to “sleep eat” or “sleep drive.” A scientific paper is being prepared that cites patients who take Ambien suffering from sleep munchies, raiding the fridge while still asleep, and then not remembering it later. And some state toxicology laboratories count Ambien among the top 10 drugs found in impaired drivers, some saying they don‘t remember going out for a drive after taking an Ambien pill.

    You have to wonder whether in certain cases it‘s just ,oh honey, I know I‘m not supposed to be eating little Janie‘s cupcakes, but I don‘t remember doing it or officer, I have no idea why I ran into that tree. I just—I don‘t remember it. I‘m not saying it‘s not true, but I certainly want to read those scientific papers closely.

    And even those who don‘t take Ambien could be in danger in their beds tonight. “Details” magazine reporting in its new issue on sexsomnia, i.e., “sexual behavior driven by abnormal arousal during deep sleep.”

    Abnormal arousal? Again, I am dubious, particularly when you read this from the article. “It is thought to be rooted in genetics, but controllable factors like sleep deprivation, stress, drug or alcohol use can also play a role.” I think in non-medical terms, that is also known as beer goggles, but I guess some will be relieved to hear there is a scientific explanation for sleeping during sexual activity.

    Look, sometimes this is all too serious. Some men have been using it as a legal defense saying they don‘t remember sexually assaulting women--the “sexsomnia defense.” While it‘s worked on occasion, many still look at it the way I do--skeptically. There is a lot we still have to learn about sleep and the effects it may have before the “I was sleeping when I did it” defense becomes reliable.

    Comments? Email Sidebar@msnbc.com
    Watch The Abrams Report M-F at 4 & 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV

    • March 13, 2006 | 10:11 p.m. ET

    Slam-dunk for U.S. Supreme Court (Dan Abrams)


    A slam-dunk for the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices ruled unanimously that universities, in particular, certain elite law schools, must welcome military recruiters onto their campuses if they want federal funds. The military must be treated like other recruiters—which, by the way, always seemed like a no-brainer to me. The universities filed suit to keep the military out claiming the don‘t ask, don‘t tell policy with regard to homosexuals is discriminatory.

    The suit argued that higher education institutions should not be forced to associate with military recruiters or promote their campus appearances. Chief Justice Roberts writing for the court said: “A military recruiter‘s mere presence on campus does not violate a law school‘s right to associate, regardless of how repugnant the law school considers the recruiter‘s message.” As I‘ve said before, the don‘t ask, don‘t tell policy doesn‘t make any sense to me. But why shouldn‘t the government be allowed to say no to funding for schools that exclude them from campus?

    Somehow, the lower court ruled the school should be able to make a statement and pronounce it doesn’t want to associate with organizations that discriminate. So the solution is to prevent recruiters from speaking on campus? It‘s not just any organization. It‘s the federal government--whose money they want and need. I love the irony.

    The solution to the school‘s First Amendment problem is to prevent students from hearing what the military has to say. The recruiters want a room, not a soapbox. Anyone can protest outside. The military just wants to be treated like every other employer. And a federal law says they should get it. I‘ve never understood why this is even a close case and was stunned the lower court ruled for the universities. I‘m glad to see the court unanimously knock some legal sense into some of the country’s greatest law schools.

    Comments? Email Sidebar@msnbc.com
    http://img455.imageshack.us/img455/1369/rosekdrosetransp9fk2eb.gif

    A Smile

    A smile cost nothing, but gives so much.

    It enriches those who receive it,
    without making poorer those who give.
    It takes but a moment, but the memory
    of it sometimes lasts forever.

    None is so rich or mighty that he
    can get along without it,
    and none is so poor but that
    he can be made rich by it.

    A smile creates happiness in the home,
    fosters goodwill in business,
    and is the countersign of friendship.

    It brings rest to the weary,
    cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad,
    and it is nature's best antidote for trouble.

    Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed,
    or stolen, for it is something that is of no
    value to anyone until it is given away.

    Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
    Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile
    so much as he who has no more to give.

    - author unknown

  2. #2
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    Sidebar: by Dan Abrams continued

    • March 6, 2006 | 4:53 p.m. ET

    Don't blame the victim (Dan Abrams)


    Many people have been writing in effectively blaming Imette St. Guillen for her own murder. Imette was out drinking until 4:00 a.m. in New York City about a week ago. She was abducted and killed and so it seems many believe that she has no one to blame but herself for being brutally raped and killed. I just read a number of e-mails to that effect.

    As I said last night, I just will not let it go unanswered. I was stunned how many people wrote in saying I'm not blaming the victim, but what was she doing out that late or I'm not blaming the victim, but why is a single woman out drinking so much? Well I hate to break the news to you but you are blaming the victim. You're only asking the question to suggest she could have, maybe should have prevented her own murder.

    That's despicable. There's only one person to blame and that is the brutal killer. If you want to use this case to provide a morality lesson in your own home, fine, tell your kids what can happen to them if they're not careful, great. But to suggest that this lovely young woman somehow brought this on herself is unacceptable. Was it the smartest decision to let her friend go home without her? No.

    In retrospect, should she gone on to a second bar alone? No. But should she or anyone else have expected that she might likely be raped, mutilated and suffocated, her head wrapped in duct tape, her naked body dumped on the side of the highway if she did? Absolutely not.

    Thousands of women do it every day in this country, many of them in New York, and it does not get them killed. I'm sure some of you believe that young women should never be drinking at bars late at night no matter you know where they are.

    Others probably think young women shouldn't be drinking at all. Fine. You're welcome to those opinions. But it's just downright insulting to this family for you to provide a morality lecture on how Imette could have saved her own life. Blaming the victim, particularly female victims, has become an all too common practice in this country and I for one don't intend to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen to Imette or to anyone else.

    Now you can all feel free to write me back and complain again about my comments here, but I'm going to continue to defend Imette on this program as long as we cover this story and until the killer is found. Because that's the only person to blame.

    Comments? Email Sidebar@msnbc.com

    Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.

    © 2006 MSNBC.com

    URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6308419/

    'Abrams Report' homepage
    http://img455.imageshack.us/img455/1369/rosekdrosetransp9fk2eb.gif

    A Smile

    A smile cost nothing, but gives so much.

    It enriches those who receive it,
    without making poorer those who give.
    It takes but a moment, but the memory
    of it sometimes lasts forever.

    None is so rich or mighty that he
    can get along without it,
    and none is so poor but that
    he can be made rich by it.

    A smile creates happiness in the home,
    fosters goodwill in business,
    and is the countersign of friendship.

    It brings rest to the weary,
    cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad,
    and it is nature's best antidote for trouble.

    Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed,
    or stolen, for it is something that is of no
    value to anyone until it is given away.

    Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
    Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile
    so much as he who has no more to give.

    - author unknown

 

 

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