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gender & sexuality | human & civil rights | police / legal

in Bush's Texas, woman busted for dildo by Dildo Law-enforcement Dicks, as...

as America sleezes it's jolly way into 2004, the passionate religiloonie's...Bush's major
domestic supporter's...are fighting the "evil doer's" by going after dildo...under misguided
notion, probably, that a well placed dildo could be an effective "terrorist" weapon, and in
fearless attempt to keep America safe for all the "good people" have launched this latest
Law-enforcement initiative known by code-name "No Dick Needed" in which the massive
SWAT-team effort failed to get the double-meaning, and made big dickheads of themselves
in spite of "best laid plans o' mice and men"! Surely, there will be MORE on this story as it
develops...

repostings 4 u
Jan. 3, 2004, 1:18PM

PASSION FOR JUSTICE
Burleson community leader in middle of obscenity case
By JIM HENDERSON
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
BURLESON -- Joanne Webb would have turned heads anywhere she went, but when she landed in this small town south of Fort Worth a decade ago, she twisted them 360 degrees.

Tall and buxom with a curly blond mane and legs made for the miniskirts she wore, she raised eyebrows and incited whispers throughout the religiously conservative community.

Who is she? the locals wondered.

They soon found out she was the daughter of a Marine Corps colonel, married to a recently discharged Army officer whom she met in the Baptist Student Union at the University of Texas at San Antonio; a former elementary schoolteacher and mother of three; a Catholic who converted to the faith her husband practiced and taught in Sunday school.

They would also discover that she was a tireless volunteer who would, over the next decade, win a shelf of awards from the Chamber of Commerce and who, with her home builder husband, would give time and money to Read With Kids, Special Olympics and just about any other cause that came along.

But for the pinup looks and a preference for miniskirts, she was no different than the other civic-minded townsfolk concerned about the quality of life in a place about to be devoured by the Metroplex.

"I can attest that to win these types of awards ... takes a huge commitment of time and a giving heart," former Chamber President James Brown wrote in a letter to the editor of the local newspaper late in November.

The reason for the letter was that Webb, 42, had become more than a curiosity, but the center of a cultural and legal controversy that engulfed the town.

She had been busted in a sting operation for selling sex products during private, in-home get-togethers the way some people sell Tupperware. The officers were part of the Johnson County drug task force, but Webb stands accused of peddling something that some in town considered just as pernicious and something an obscure Texas statute deems "obscene devices."

"The fact that this is happening is what's obscene," says Webb, who has found herself in a role she never bargained for -- a very public advocate of privacy rights and the rights of women and couples to make personal sexual decisions.

Last summer, to supplement the family income while her husband's custom home building business was in a slump, she signed on with a San Francisco-based company called Passion Parties, which markets its products through home parties, much like Tupperware.

The 10-year-old, $20 million-a-year company has 3,000 sales representatives, called "consultants" in the United States -- 1,500 in Texas -- and none has ever been charged with obscenity, according to a company official.

The consultants push hundreds of products -- creams, lotions, scents, powders, massage kits and books -- but it was the dildos, which amounted to 10 to 15 percent of her business, that brought the cops to Webb.

Tucked into a Texas law on public indecency is this definition of an obscene device: "A device, including dildo or artificial vagina, designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs."

It's not illegal to buy them or to own them. It's not even illegal to sell them -- they are widely available in adult bookstores and specialty shops that trade in erotica -- unless they are sold for their intended purpose.

Retail stores dodge the law by offering them as "novelties."

Webb, at her Passion Parties gatherings, sold them as aids to sexual enhancement.

"The sin is explaining what's going on," says BeAnn Sisemore, a Fort Worth attorney who represents Webb and is getting help from attorneys who successfully challenged similar laws in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Sisemore, who argues that the law is patently unconstitutional, joined the case with missionary zeal -- "This is the first one that really made me glad I'm a lawyer" -- and also attacked it with another device that could make the squeamish more so: A package of condoms.

Lying in bed in the wee hours, she says, she had an epiphany.

"My eyes popped open, I got out of bed and drove to an all-night Wal-Mart," she says. "I went to the condom display and started reading the packages."

The language was similar on many of them: "Designed for ultra stimulation ... contoured for her pleasure."

"Wal-Mart is violating the statute," she says. "So are the drugstores and everyone else who sells condoms."

Another provision of the Texas statute says, "A person who possesses six or more obscene devices ... is presumed to possess them with intent to promote (sell) the same."

Sisemore concluded, therefore, that not only are Eckerd and Walgreens selling "obscene devices," but anyone with more than six condoms at home is subject to arrest.

"I will fight this all the way up with her," Sisemore says. "This is the first time I have felt that my government has overstepped its boundaries."

Although the local press, particularly the Fort Worth Weekly, has suggested that the case has made Burleson "the butt of a national joke," Webb and her husband aren't laughing.

"She is at risk of losing her civil liberties, losing her teaching certificate, doing jail time," Chris Webb says. She also could be fined $1,500.

They don't know for certain who lodged the complaint. There are eight other Passion Parties consultants in the Burleson area and they have not been stung by the drug task force or any other law enforcement agency.

The Webbs suspect that Joanne was singled out because of a long-simmering resentment of her miniskirts.

Two years ago, the pastor of their Baptist Church suggested that she should change her attire or find another place to worship. They moved on.

But when she opened her Passion Parties business last summer, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, where she was a director and member of the ambassadors -- a group of 25 volunteers who appear at ribbon cuttings and perform other public relations functions -- assisted her.

Some chamber officials stayed away from her ribbon-cutting ceremony but, Webb says, she heard few complaints about her new venture. Soon she was hosting as many as five or six parties a month, some of which were attended by the wives of local police officers.

Her critics, however, were quietly busy.

They researched the city's ordinance on sexually oriented business and found that it did not apply to Passion Parties. They then found the Texas statute.

Some chamber volunteers have identified the leader of that effort as Shanda Perkins, whose brother, Stuart Gillespie, is a city councilman who promotes his religious beliefs on the city's Web site. Their mother is Gloria Gillespie, pastor of the Steppingstone Family Church and a force in getting the city's sexually oriented business ordinance enacted.

Perkins has declined interviews and her mother and brother have denied being behind Webb's arrest. After the arrest, however, Perkins persuaded the chamber board to set a dress code for female Ambassadors: Skirts could be no shorter than three inches above the knees.

Whatever the source of the complaint, the Burleson police accepted it and set out to prove it. Because Webb knew all of the Burleson police officers, the drug task force was asked to help in the misdemeanor investigation.

Two officers, a man and a woman, met Webb at her husband's office and inquired about her products. She showed them a catalogue and asked if they were interested in hosting a Passion Parties party.

They declined and asked to buy two dildos. Webb went to her house and returned with the products.

Later, Webb received a call from police headquarters informing her an arrest warrant had been issued and requesting that she turn herself in.

Webb was stunned. She had considered her business a legal and valuable service to women, especially married women, looking for ways to return vigor and romance to their sex lives.

"These are not sex parties," she says. "A lot of the women who attend have never been able to open up and talk about sex. Some of them have told me this changed their lives ... saved their marriages."

Johnson County attorney Bill Moore, who accepted the case for prosecution, has declined to be interviewed. He said through an assistant only that the case is going forward.

Sisemore is preparing motions to challenge the constitutionality of the statute. She says she hopes the presiding state judge "is brave enough to see the conflict between the constitution and the law."

Chris Webb says he thinks the Burleson police and the county prosecutor were unprepared for his wife's resistance to the charge.

"There was a gross miscalculation of what the response would be," he says. "They thought she would come in, plead guilty, pay a fine and this would go away. They didn't anticipate she would fight back and this would get national attention."

Sisemore agrees: "Everyone was acting as though this was about vibrators. It's about the Constitution."

Texas law 04.Jan.2004 09:26

gk

It always baffles me how weapons of violence are considered ok, but when sex enteres the picture, "sin-enforcers" vibrate their way into laws. The lows keep mounting.

hey gang!...with Cheney coming to town and everyone wondering what to bring 04.Jan.2004 10:44

to the protest...here's an idea!

let's bring out all our dildo's...wave 'em in the air as protest to him (other postings here have detailed a lot of his craziness that
apparently has a sex-pervasion to it...far worst than any that any of us could be charged with!), to Bush and the New Rethuglican
Party that's hi-jacked the old one some of us were once proud to belong to, and to symbolize the FACT that we the people have
been given the shaft from Bushites and really drive home to the TV-media lapping crowd (the media would cover this and sure
to paste it on NBC Evening News or other mainstream news...FOX NEWS maybe?) that...why, yes!...Portland is "different", and
it's not only for it's acclaimed openess and tolerance for the gay community, but as well, for it's large number's of people who
aren't sheepeople, and when it comes to protesting...does it like nobody else! It's an "idea"...so bat it around, think about it,
refuse it or refine it, as suits!

Show Dick Your Dick 04.Jan.2004 19:05

Bear

...cuz when Cheney shows his face in this town, it's INDECENT EXPOSURE!

Kind of like the London protests, "Bare Your Bum at Bush". We could have a festive time, bring some Mardi Gras beads to throw.

Good thing I don't live in Texas, they could bust me for intent to sell and they're all for personal use. I might lend out a few for the Dick Cheney protest, though.

 http://www.bloggerheads.com/can_weblogs/bush_bum.asp

Common Cause 04.Jan.2004 20:16

jlii

This is easy, the 'men' of Texas are having Penis Envy. LBJ, George I, George II when is the last time anything erect came, out of Texas. They have no spines, of course anything that stands up on it's on annoys them.

My Patriotic Dildo 04.Jan.2004 21:25

Liz e.

This is my "obscene" take on American life. Funny commentary.

http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2004/01/237459.shtml
my vibrator invention
my vibrator invention

I NEED YOUR HELP 11.Feb.2004 21:15

KENNETH DEL VALLE, ATTORNEY AT LAW kendelvalle@aol.com

i am currently defending a possession of an obcene device (dildo) case in el paso, texas.
please call me at 915 544-0202 if you know of any cases in texas that have found the obcene device statute unconstitutional or of any pending cases were a constitutional challange has been made.
it is my intention to challange the constitutionality of the statute on the basis of a recent u.s. supreme court opinion finding the texas sodomy statute unconstitutional.

the brief will be ready in about a month. anyone who wants a copy...just call or e-mail.

p.s. i am a decorated viet nam vet, happily married with three sons and five grandchildren and i hate stupid ass laws.

915-544-0202