Shhh which sells lingerie, sex toys and porn DVDs, has been shut down by
Pittsylvania County's Board of Zoning Appeals. Officers claim that the sale of sex toys and pornography isn't allowed in the county.
Shhh co-owner Trish Post, who opened the store April, said she plans to appeal the order to the zoning board. Once Post files an appeal, she may continue to operate the store pending the appeal's outcome, according to Danville Register &
Post said she stopped selling porn DVDs last month after she learned that it could be illegal in the county but that the county ordered the store shut anyway.
Pittsylvania County's zoning ordinance lists types of allowed stores and sales of items that are allowed, but it does not expressly forbid sex toys or porn.
Adult entertainment industry attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ that it would be a clear violation of the First Amendment to shut the store down because it is selling porn DVDs and sex toys,
particularly if the county did not have a specific zone where such stores could operate as a matter of right.
The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that local governments cannot impose de facto censorship by zoning adult entertainment businesses out of existence.
The wording of the county's obscenity laws demonstrate the moralism behind the censorship. According to the county's ordinance, obscene means that which:
has as its dominant theme or purpose an appeal to the prurient interest in sex, that is, a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sexual excitement, excretory functions or products thereof or sadomasochistic abuse, and which goes substantially
beyond customary limits or candor in description or representation ... and which ... does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Walters said that one of the phrases in the ordinance ( which goes substantially beyond customary limits or candor in description or representation ) goes well beyond established law and is likely illegal.