UCSB communication professor Daniel Linz testified in a Tennessee court on Jan. 31 to oppose government regulation of strip clubs.

The court case, Entertainment Productions, Inc. v. Shelby County, Tennessee, addresses a 2007 ordinance that bans alcohol and nudity in strip clubs, adult bookstores and other sex-related businesses in Tennessee. Linz testified on behalf of the plaintiff Entertainment Productions, Inc. and was opposed by UC Irvine professor Richard McCleary, who appeared on behalf of the state.

In 1998, Tennessee’s Adult-Oriented Establishment Registration Act passed, allowing the state to regulate sexually-oriented business, leading to its adoption by the Shelby County Commission on Sept. 10, 2007.

Linz said the law also outlaws wearing bikini tops and minimal attire at those establishments.

“The issue in the case is that the county, city and state have not presented any evidence linking the wearing of brief attire, for example, bikini tops, to secondary effects,” Linz said in an e-mail. “The argument I was making is that our peer-reviewed studies show that adult businesses are not associated with adverse secondary effects.”

Contention over sexually oriented business in the U.S. began almost 30 years ago during a set of Supreme Court hearings. Notably, the 1986 case, City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc., legalized legislative intervention on sexually-oriented business and allowed for local governments to relocate sex-related businesses from areas in a community where their presence posed increased dangers for crime and decreasing property values.

In his 30 years of research and nearly a decade of court appearances as an expert, Linz — whose court testimony was based on research of pornography, sexual violence and media — said he finds no significant association between the presence of sex-related businesses and adverse secondary effects.

“We’ve studied criminal reports and have determined that there is an association based on the police reports that we’ve researched over the years,” George Tita, a UCI criminology, law and society associate professor, said. “We must take into consideration the fact that many of these crimes go unreported, so the association between sex-related business and violence could be greater than we think.”

However, Indiana University assistant professor Bryant Paul, who studied under Linz before receiving a Ph.D. in communication from UCSB in 2003, said strip clubs can actually generate funds for a community.

“Rather than causing negative externalities to the surrounding area, these businesses often open up economically depressed areas and bring business and revenue to the place in which they’re located,” Paul said.

Tita, a colleague of professor McCleary, said McCleary’s research background in criminal justice and statistics has outlined strong theoretical and empirical evidence that sex-related businesses elevate crime.

A collaborative journal entitled “The Secondary Effects Doctrine Since Alameda: An Empirical Re-examination of the Justifications for Laws Limiting First Amendment Protection” detailing Linz’s research in East Hartford, Con., Milford, Con. and Richmond, Vir. about this issue will be published later this year.