The intent was noble, or politically expedient, or perhaps a bit of both.
The effect has been legalization of censorship, headaches for legitimate businesses, the prospect of costly litigation and the sting of national embarrassment.
House Enrolled Act 1042, which takes effect July 1, has the fatal flaw common to government efforts to constrict the free expression guaranteed under the First Amendment. That is to say, it blasts away at noncombatants because there's no defining its enemy.
Promoted as a help to local governments that lack zoning laws to track undesirable businesses, the statute requires sellers of "sexually explicit" materials to register with the state and pay $250 for the confession. It applies only to businesses that open, relocate or begin offering the taboo materials after June 30.
The editorial offers some good examples of the absurd results which may be produced under this new law's broad definition of "sexually explicit materials." "Does James Joyce's "Ulysses" count? John Updike's "Rabbit" novels? The biblical accounts of David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah? The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? Manuals on personal health?"