Our view: At a bare minimum, some adult clubs demand more scrutiny
Is it buying into a stereotype to suggest that adult-entertainment establishments tend to bring out unsavory, or at least less than pastoral, elements of a community?...
Is it buying into a stereotype to suggest that adult-entertainment establishments tend to bring out unsavory, or at least less than pastoral, elements of a community?
Not if you consider two recent incidents in Minnesota allegedly involving the proprietors of two establishments themselves.
By far more tragic than most was the incident in Little Falls on Tuesday, when one-time exotic dance club and book and video store owner Gordon Wheeler Sr. allegedly took 10 people hostage at gunpoint at a Morrison County Board meeting. Wheeler, who had legal run-ins with the County Board after his Camp Ripley area club was ordered closed, was shot by a deputy sheriff and state trooper, the Associated Press reported. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Far less dramatic was an incident last month at Duluth's NorShor Experience, in which club president Jim Gradishar was allegedly carrying a handgun while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. Gradishar faces a July 15 court date on the charge, which his defense attorney, Richard Holmstrom, says should be dropped because proprietors are allowed to keep a firearm at their businesses and the alcohol rule doesn't apply.
The first incident is extreme and the second perhaps out of the ordinary. But coupled with a prostitution conviction slapped on Wheeler and a bizarre fight among dancers and patrons at the NorShor in May 2007, among other activities Duluth police say they've been called out to quell, it's obvious the establishments aren't quite the same as a bakery or bike shop.
Yes, other businesses that offer entertainment -- while clothed -- and alcohol have their share of problems and police calls, too, as Gradishar's lawyer on First Amendment issues, Randall Tigue of Golden Valley, Minn., told News Tribune reporter Mark Stodghill in Saturday's editions. "Any use that involves the serving of alcohol is going to generate some law enforcement problems," he said.
That may be true, but "other kids are chewing gum in class, why can't I?" is a poor excuse. And if other business owners are carrying handguns, it certainly didn't justify Mr. Wheeler's end. May he, for all his troubles, rest in peace.