Some people question the reality of secondary effects of adult businesses. NoPornNorthampton would like to present a summary of some of our research into this issue. Secondary effects have been seen in towns as large as New York City and as small as Kittery, Maine. These effects have been seen in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and in Kittery’s case, 2006. The fact that secondary effects are seen in a wide range and variety of locales, over a long span of time, speaks to their reality.
In any complex social science such as the study of American cities, 100% certainty about cause and effect is impossible to achieve. There will always be some outliers and contradictory data. For adult-use zoning, we believe the appropriate standard is not 100% certainty but a preponderance of the evidence. We are confident that we have met this standard, and that American courts support our position.
Both Congressman Barney Frank and State Senator Stanley Rosenberg are comfortable with using zoning to mitigate secondary effects. These politicians respect First Amendment rights, while understanding that some modest regulation is warranted to meet citizens’ legitimate concerns.
Some Northampton citizens have expressed concern that adult-use zoning will be lead to general and increasing censorship of media. We have seen virtually no evidence of this in locales where adult-use zoning has been employed for any substantial period, such as Boston, New York, or Springfield. If there was substantial evidence of follow-on censorship, our opponents would almost certainly have presented this by now.
All over the country, in many times and places, the people have shown that they can employ adult-use zoning responsibly to mitigate secondary effects without straying into general censorship. We are confident the people of Northampton will be equally wise.
Some people have said that adult-use zoning will invest extraordinary powers in a single person, perhaps the building inspector. However, the building inspector is not the only important player in Northampton. He is answerable to other city officials, the courts, and ultimately to the people. If he abuses his power, we are more than confident that people will be there to correct him.
Absent legislation, companies like Capital Video, as shown by their actions in Springfield and Kittery, by the substantial evidence of secondary effects surrounding adult businesses, and by Anthony Nota’s attitude in council chambers on October 26, cannot be trusted to respect the citizens of Northampton or their concerns.
To deny the residents of Northampton modest protection from proven risks, due to imaginary fears of censorship, would be unfortunate. Adult-use zoning is not Nazism. It is not book burning. It is not religious law. It is limited, well-tested regulation that meets residents’ concerns and no more.