A decision by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors not to expand its bureaucracy into the realm of “Big Brother” surveillance was not as much a victory as a reprieve.
The county board gutted its porn shop legislation Tuesday night, removing the requirement of constant video surveillance both inside and outside of such businesses. The tapes were to be made available to police on request.
County supervisors were considering a proposal that would have kept the video cameras running at these businesses. The supervisors did tighten zoning requirements on any new adult businesses, keeping them at least 500-feet from a number of sensitive locations such as churches and schools.
It took a threat of legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union for Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton to pull the plug on his candid camera proposal.
The idea of cameras in the shops was a form of government intimidation, plain and simple. It was offered under the guise of “security” considering the crime problems associated with such businesses – though the county offered zero proof of a spike in crime directly attributed to such establishments in Prince William County.
Opposing spy cameras at adult businesses is not an open-ended endorsement of the local porn industry, but rather a stand against government intrusion into the lives of law abiding citizens. Today it’s adult businesses, but tomorrow it might be gun shops, ABC stores and abortion clinics.
It’s good that Connaughton decided to get the camera issue off the table prior to the beginning of the campaign season. Let the camera law go the way of similar bright ideas such as erasing the tobacco leaves from the county seal.
The board’s time is better spent controlling growth and lowering our taxes.