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Texas Supreme Court doesn't dance around naked dancing tax

August 30, 2011 |  5:34 am

Pole Dancing contest in Colombia 8-11Finally, the Texas Supreme Court has addressed a freedom of speech issue that's been vexing certain dimly-lit parts of of the Lone Star state.

Four years ago the Texas legislature levied a $5 pole tax on each entrance ticket to the state's nude dancing emporiums that also serve alcohol.

Who knew there were such places really?

The revenue was designated to finance sexual assault prevention programs and health care for the uninsured. Worthy causes worth supporting any way possible.

But the pole dance places sued, arguing the tax was an unfair burden on freedom of speech as expressed through clothing-less dancing by people of the female gender. Lower courts agreed.

We've been told by a friend who has a cousin whose brother accidentally wandered into such a place once that the establishment had awful lighting, loud music and no wi-fi. So he went straight home after a couple of hours.

He reported the audience was predominantly male and appeared to be consuming adult beverages after a hard day's work.

He said he also heard that women wearing scant clothing 'dance' on the stage while slowly removing said garments and doing imaginative things on and around a shiny pole.

Not unlike this nearby photo here of a contestant in a recent South American pole dancing contest, only without all the confining clothing.

So the pole tax issue finally reached the state's highest court, which heard oral arguments 17 months ago. As you might imagine, there are many exhibits and issues for judges to study and discuss enroute to American justice.

In a unanimous ruling the other day the Republican court said five bucks is too small a sum to be considered a burden on such free expression. And, it said, the state does hold a legitimate interest in curbing the secondary effects of potential violence stemming from alcohol and adult entertainment.

One justice suggested that nude dancing establishments could get around the pole tax by not serving alcohol. But he may have been drunk at the time.

The club industry is weighing its legal options, appeal or suing on other grounds.

Meanwhile, we did some math. Initial estimates said the pole tax would provide $44 million in its first two years. At $5 per customer, that's nearly nine million tickets to watch nude dancing, which means about one out of every three state residents patronized these establishments.

Since that is patently ridiculous for Texas, an alternative explanation is that 300 people attended such shows 30,000 times each. And they were most likely Oklahomans.

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Photo: Raul Arboleda / AFP / Getty Images

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