The Founding Fathers of the United States, having written a pretty good Constitution, realized they'd left a few things out here and there. After throwing off the yoke of rule by an absolute monarchy in which citizens had few personal rights, they wanted to amend the constitution to make sure future generations could worship how they chose, speak their minds out loud or print their thoughts in a published forum (like this one), and even form groups to protest the government. That's basically the First Amendment, and our rights under such. Gives us pretty good leeway in terms of personal expression.

The exact wording is: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

After thousands of years of human existence mostly under the whims of kings and queens, the experimenters of "Liberty" wanted us to pretty much be able to come and go, and do and say as we pleased.

And then the arguments started, and have continued for over 200 years.

Every now and then, a non-traditional skin business other than an all-out strip club will use skimpily clad women and a plethora of skin in a commercial enterprise or promotional venue. Now and then, here and there, you'll get a topless donut shop or a bikini car wash that'll do great business until the church ladies of the community band together to shut it down, or people just get bored with it.

Out in Everett, WA, near Seattle, there's a coffee shop that employs only baristas that are willing to wear bikinis. While the usual protests sprang up, opposition also came from another angle: a psychologist. But the latte serving ladies are fighting back in court.

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Mary Anne Layden, a local Ph.D., wrote a 31-page dissertation pointing out that the costumes worn by the baristas aren't bikinis but "stripper outfits" designed to "titillate."

As the coffee selling sweeties pointed out, they are protected by their first amendment rights, and their jobs are tied to "freedom, empowerment, openness, acceptance, approachability, vulnerability and individuality."

The good doctor countered that, "when you make the body a commodity, and sex a product which you sell, one outcome is sexual violence," and she added, "if you can sell it, you can steal it."

The city (naturally) got involved, enacting ordinances against the coffee stands for breeding a "proliferation of crimes of a sexual nature" and other public dress-code type ordinances. The coffee shops countered that their right to privacy would be violated if police officers were to routinely inspect the basically pastie and G-string clad emboldened baristas.

Sheesh.

So we're basically talking about a string of strip clubs that are open during the day serving coffee, and the city and locals are trying to shut down? Or are they brewing a decent cup of coffee and serving it in a manner of dress some businesses that serve tiny greasy hamburgers and stale french fries use?

The biggest difference here is the coffee shop owners (who may be connected to organized crime, surprise!), instead of moving along and relocating a few feet outside of city limits, are taking the whole case to the federal courts, and asking for an injunction.

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Are skimpy costumes and cleavage a protected expression of the First Amendment right of free speech, or do they feed into the poisonous attitudes toward women that have so infected our venerable institutions, such as politics and Hollywood?

I think I'll retire to the ol' Keurig in the kitchen and pore over the photo documentation awhile before forming a more grounded opinion.

The whole seedy story is here.