Pat Binns and the Naked Dancers

As far as I know, I have never watched people dancing nakedly in a bar-like setting. I can’t say as though I’m particularly excited about the notion of people dancing nakedly in a bar-like setting in my home province. But, beyond the effects that such naked dancing might have on the surrounding neighbourhood — noise, lecherous disorderliness, etc. — I don’t think my government should be expressing opinions or taking action on the naked dancing issue.

I don’t feel this way because I think governments shouldn’t involve themselves in the business of enhancing or policing morals-related issues — clearly there is at least some role to play for government there. A small one, but a role nonetheless.

No, I feel this way because when governments try to speak out on issues of morality, inevitably something approaching inane xenophobic ranting tends to result.

Witness this comment from our Premier on the naked dancing issue, as quoted by the CBC:

“I think P.E.I. is a fairly homogeneous society and our norms, and customs and values I think are such that we want to encourage sort of wholesome entertainment that reflects the history of this community. The Island community. And we just think that this kind of entertainment is going in the wrong direction and that’s not where we want to be.”

I gather that, if the Premier had his way, we would all be attending historical pageants wherein fully-clothed Scottish and Irish people would enact vignettes from the Island’s past.

Surely there has to be a way to express concern about the naked dancing, and even to work to control the unseemly parts of the naked dancing, without casting Prince Edward Island as some sort of chaste homeland for like-minded boring people?

One more tip for the premier: it’s probably not a good idea to be reinforcing to the media how PEI is a “fairly homogeneous society” in the middle of Pride Week. It makes you — and all of us — look more antediluvian than we should be striving for.


Rob MacD's picture
Rob MacD on July 11, 2004 - 15:00 Permalink

I don’t want this comment to come across as an advertisement, but in our Sketch 22 show, Josh Weale has a fantastic monologue-rant that is the exact antithesis of the Premier’s comment quoted above. I am jealous as hell that Josh wrote it and gets to perform it.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 12, 2004 - 05:16 Permalink

One more tip for the premier: it’s probably not a good idea to be reinforcing to the media how PEI is a “fairly homogeneous society” in the middle of Pride Week. It makes you — and all of us — look more antediluvian than we should be striving for.

Thank you for that Peter…. I could not have said it better myself.

Al O'Neill's picture
Al O'Neill on July 12, 2004 - 09:54 Permalink

There you go again with the scandalously teasing headlines :)

Robert  Paterson's picture
Robert Paterson on July 12, 2004 - 12:18 Permalink

I also don’t think that a “Fairly Homogeneous” society should be an ambition either.

Richard Florida’s research is clear — diversity = welcome change = innovation. There is a direct connection between vibrancy in both economy and society and how welcome a gay community is as well.

For several years now, my colleagues and I have been measuring the underlying factors common to those American cities and regions with the highest level of creative economic growth. The chief factors we’ve found are: large numbers of talented individuals, a high degree of technological innovation, and a tolerance of diverse lifestyles. Recently my colleague Irene Tinagli of Carnegie Mellon and I have applied the same analysis to northern Europe, and the findings are startling. The playing field is much more level than you might think. Sweden tops the United States on this measure, with Finland, the Netherlands, and Denmark close behind. The United Kingdom and Belgium are also doing well. And most of these countries, especially Ireland, are becoming more creatively competitive at a faster rate than the United States.

Though the data are not as perfect at the metropolitan level, other cities are also beating us for fresh new talent, diversity, and brainpower. Vancouver and Toronto are set to take off: Both city-regions have a higher concentration of immigrants than New York, Miami, or Los Angeles. So too are Sydney and Melbourne. As creative centers, they would rank alongside Washington, D.C. and New York City. Many of these places also offer such further inducements as spectacular waterfronts, beautiful countryside, and great outdoor life. They’re safe. They’re rarely at war. These cities are becoming the global equivalents of Boston or San Francisco, transforming themselves from small, obscure places to creative hotbeds that draw talent from all over—including your city and mine.”

al o'neill's picture
al o'neill on July 12, 2004 - 12:27 Permalink

It was unfortunate word choice by Binns, but I don’t think strip clubs are a characteristic of the progressive, creativity-encouraging community. That’s not to say that a repressive policy is either, but perhaps the two are simply unrelated. (My stereotypes of the clientele of such places, and their usual locations within most small-to-medium sized cities are probably playing a part here)

Lisa Howard's picture
Lisa Howard on July 12, 2004 - 13:24 Permalink

I usually find that most attempts to quash prostitution make me think of the temperance league or missionaries. There’s a nice story about a prostitute by Somerset Maugham called “Rain” that to me shows that that kind of unsophisticated and usually hypocritical asceticism has been around for some time and is fighting a losing battle.

Lisa Howard's picture
Lisa Howard on July 12, 2004 - 13:39 Permalink

I guess the topic is really naked dancing, not prostitution, but I think my point still stands. Sex trade workers are often marginalised even by people who claim to be progressive. These days this is usually done in the name of something vague and amorphous like ‘community values’ etc. but it’s still the same old same old.

Allan Rankin's picture
Allan Rankin on July 13, 2004 - 23:20 Permalink

Joe Ghiz was enough of a democrat, and a believer in the right of the people to make up their own minds on issues of moral importance, that he held a plebiscite vote on the Fixed Link, then went ahead as a consequence of the vote in favor, even though he personally opposed the project. Premier Binns should also be winning to put aside his own personal beliefs, however legitimate, when dealing with broader issues of moral importance to the province. That is what a true democratic leader is supposed to do!

Scott's picture
Scott on July 13, 2004 - 23:36 Permalink

Premier Binns has become a master at saying what he thinks the public wants to hear whether it is actually his belief or not. I think we are all getting tired of having his his “holier than thou” stand on moral issues forced on us. He is the Premier of this Province — not the resident moral policeman. Let the communities decide if the strip bar is to stay or go. I have to question why, now, after the businessman has the building almost ready to go, that the Premier comes out with this ludicrous statement. Is he going to support closure of the establishment before it even starts. Of course, closing businesses is one thing Binns has become an expert at. I am curious to see if he will throw $14 million into it and then three weeks later, pull the plug. Nah…he won’t do that…it’s still 3.5 years away from the next election!

Nils's picture
Nils on July 14, 2004 - 07:00 Permalink

I’m not clear on what is so wrong about describing PEI as a “fairly homogenous community”. Had Pat Binns described PEI as “an ethnically diverse community that tolerates a broad range of lifestyles”, I’d have been … well, surprised.

Not that it’s wrong to be ethnically diverse or tolerant of diverse lifestyles. Just that such a description doesn’t match the PEI we live in.

Fact: the overwhelming majority of people on Prince Edward Island can (if one desires, and if one feels it’s important to do so) be tucked neatly into one ethnic group. It is undeniably the very definition of a “fairly homogenous society”.

Argue whether that’s good or bad, if you will. But it’s simply, undeniably true, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Pride Week or Black History Month or Take a Naked Stripper to Lunch Friday, it’s still true.

When a government has spent millions of dollars marketing a product (in this case, the Island) as a place for wholesome, family entertainment, is it inconsistent for that government to look unfavourably on a proposed business that is the antithesis of that image? I don’t think so.

Is there a groundswell of popular sentiment supporting the establishment of strip clubs? I’m not hearing it. And let’s not kid ourselves that this is about a single strip club. Because once you have one, you’ll have as many as the market will support.

Ah, but if there’s a market, that must mean there’s popular support for strips clubs! Well, yes, in the same sense that there’s public support for bootleggers or drug dealers or brothels — none of those would ever lack for customers in any city. Does that mean the government should license them and legitimize them? I’d argue against that.

It would be hard to convince me that the overwhelming majority of Island residents want to see strip clubs dotting the landscape. There are those who would, of course … and those who are neutral or disinterested or don’t see how it involves them.

But for good or ill, I don’t see how Pat Binns’ statement — as quoted by Peter — is anything less than an accurate description of the State of the Island on this topic.

And if the government, believing sincerely that it has the support of the people, takes an action in furtherance of their view of the public interest … well I just don’t see how that’s such a wrong thing.

Roddy's picture
Roddy on July 14, 2004 - 15:02 Permalink

I think its ridiculous to equate the fixed link issue with a strip club as an issue of “moral importance” to Islanders. I don’t think we are going to have a referendum on strip clubs. We have had strippers on the Island before and there isn’t a market for them. If we don’t want them, we should change the liquor laws. We don’t seem to have a problem with all kinds of restrictions when it comes to drinking establishments, so what’s one more?

jeff's picture
jeff on July 14, 2004 - 17:13 Permalink

Perhaps a solution could be that we institute a “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” policy on strippers and have them operate in our non-existent bootlegging establishments. Weave it into the social fabric of our ‘neighbourhood institutions and traditions’, as it were.

Allan Rankin's picture
Allan Rankin on July 15, 2004 - 03:47 Permalink

I wasn’t suggesting a referendum on strip clubs. What I do suggest, however, is that our elected leaders step very carefully when they presume to represent the people on moral issues. I find it somewhat ironic that our Premier would take great offense at the suggestion that individuals be allowed to take off their clothing for money, while entire families are being ruined as a result of gambling addictions fed by government owned VLT machines. Moral consistency would be welcome.

Ken's picture
Ken on July 15, 2004 - 13:28 Permalink

PEI is a homogeneous society, our biggest export is the heterogeneous type person who wants more than 3 months of Anne of Green Gables and 9 months of cold weather and the same faces.

Seeing bare skin in the winter — what a treat that will be!

If the province made the same revenues on exotic dancing as on VLT’s Mr. Binns would be donning lingerie himself.

Picture Pat’s Pelvis undulating to ‘Like a virgin’.

Scott's picture
Scott on July 15, 2004 - 17:16 Permalink

Well said, Allan Rankin! Well said.

Dean's picture
Dean on August 14, 2004 - 13:44 Permalink

As the owner of the proposed BAR at Mount Pleasant it amazes me that so many people know so much about it when very few and NONE from the government (outside the Liquor Commision which operates independently of the government??) have asked us what we propose to do there. It is truly amazing how much trouble one can stir up on this island when you try to obey the law. Perhaps that is why more business does NOT MOVE here.

Clone's picture
Clone on August 14, 2004 - 15:26 Permalink

Dean, run your bar accounting system on Oracle, locate it in the Atlantic Technology Center and call it the SmartBar. You will be up and running immediately.