Police have made three “routine liquor-licence inspections” at the Barn in the last 90 days. Each was during a Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity (TNT!MEN) naked dance. Even a cautious lawyer like me must concede that, at some point, “routine inspections” are better characterized as “routine harassment.”
No criminal offences are alleged to have occurred at any of our 37
monthly dances. If other Toronto dances emulated our policy of mandatory nudity, they’d drastically reduce some of their problems (you know, annoying little things, like fatal shootings).
Upon entering the Barn, the police rushed directly to the washrooms.
Were their bladders bursting? Were the officers just full of crap?
If they were hoping to find sexual activity, they went home unsatisfied.
I’ve tallied the scores for the three “inspections”:
highly-trained eyes: 14
time spent looking: 270 police minutes
sex found: nil
expense: ask 52 Division.
If the cops wanted to catch someone doing something shameful, all they had to do was look in the mirror.
Besides being a ludicrous misuse of expensive police resources, the
latest “inspection” violated an agreement between the police, the Barn, and TNT MEN.
City Councillor Kyle Rae arranged a meeting after the second “inspection.”
Supt Aidan Maher, head of 52 Division, promised no further harassment of naked dances at the Barn if conducted as “private parties.” This entailed admission tickets not being sold at the door
On Apr 20, that agreement with police became a matter of public record in published articles.
What happened a mere nine days later? Despite meticulous implementation of the agreement by TNT MEN and the Barn, a detective showed up with two plainly-clothed officers.
In the absence of any criminal activity, they were left swatting at
The three “liquor-licence inspections” together yielded one minor charge under the Liquor Licence Act. A regulation prohibits bar owners from permitting “riotous, quarrelsome, violent or disorderly conduct.”
In March, two other officers chose to misinterpret “disorderly conduct” as including mere nudity. They reached this clever insight without consulting anyone actually familiar with relevant jurisprudence and principles of statutory interpretation.
After exhaustive legal research, I am confident the Crown attorney will withdraw the charge as legally untenable, or that a judge will acquit for that same reason.
There’s a disturbing parallel in George Chauncey’s historical study, Gay New York. He recounts how pre-Stonewall police abused vague
liquor-licensing laws to make life miserable for lesbians and gay men.
When Prohibition was repealed in 1930, “disorderliness” was forbidden in New York bars. This proviso had “a profound impact” because of the way it was interpreted by the State Liquor Authority: “The simple presence of lesbians or gay men… made an establishment disorderly.”
From the 1930s to the 1960s, the SLA “closed literally hundreds of bars that welcomed, tolerated, or simply failed to notice the patronage of gay men or lesbians.” As a result, gay bars “survived at all only by paying off the local patrolmen and policing the behaviour of their own patrons.”
Some of Toronto’s finest have decided they don’t like uppity naked
faggots. To indulge in regulatory harassment is to defile the rule of
law and to abuse the power that we citizens have entrusted to our
police. It is imperative that they stop and honestly ask themselves,
“Whom am I serving, and whom am I protecting?”