Approaching Your Local Authorities
The purpose of this presentation is to educate law enforcement, prosecutors, or other authorities about SM-Leather- Fetish and/or swing practices on behalf of a local group(s). NCSF's goal in presenting this material is to help local group(s) to develop a positive relationship with their local authorities. The contents and delivery method of the outreach presentation are designed on a case-by-case basis. We suggest that local groups work together when presenting info
to local officials.
Zoning for SM & Swing Groups and Businesses
Zoning and permit issues are commonly used as a tool of local governments when seeking a method to attack SM groups and businesses. Typical "crimes" such as indecent exposure, lewd conduct, and the like are subject to interpretation by the police, prosecutor, and courts. Successful prosecution is
certainly possible but not guaranteed. Zoning and permit violations tend to be very cut and dry comparatively. For this reason, administrative issues are frequently used as tools to either move or shut down SM activities.
It is important for our community to have an understanding of these administrative rules in order to safely organize and maintain SM activities and functions. Zoning and permits vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This discussion will attempt address these issues in a general, overview
fashion. The attendees will benefit from the experiences of the panelists who have all dealt with legal and/or scene?related administrative issues.
There are numerous licensing, zoning, and permit requirements at all levels of government ? federal, state, regional, county and city. It's not easy to determine what licenses and permits you'll need, but it's very important. You should thoroughly research this issue if your SM organization or business may come under the scrutiny of law enforcement or local authorities. If you ignore these issues, you may face expenses and hassles you hadn't anticipated, and certainly don't desire.
Administrative (zoning, permit, and license) requirements can affect where you locate your organization or business, limit or require some remodeling, whether or not you'll have to provide off? street parking, whether you can serve alcohol, whether you can charge admission at the door, etc. If requirements are too restrictive you might decide to avoid the hassle and move to another jurisdiction ? if you find one that has fewer restrictions. Each jurisdiction has its own system of licensing, zoning, and permits. Obviously, it's impossible to provide a comprehensive list of every permit and license in every jurisdiction, so we must address items in general.
It is important for SM/leather/fetish persons to have an understanding of the relationship between the SM community and law enforcement and of the numerous legal issues that can effect us ? specifically the law enforcement response to an alleged domestic violence call. Once this is accomplished, we can constructively interact with law enforcement if the need arises. This presentation will focus on two aspects of this relationship ? constructively dealing with officers and avoiding legal trouble. This workshop does not go in depth about the "cycle of abuse" or "real/actual" domestic violence, rather it is about consensual SM being misinterpreted as domestic violence by law enforcement. The discussion is designed to include the following sub?topics:
Our attitudes towards law enforcement
The attitudes of law enforcement toward the SM community and SM activities
Reasons for law enforcement to take action against a SM activities
Effective interaction with law enforcement
Society's domestic violence concern
The alleged domestic call
Things SM persons should do
Things SM persons could do
The law is a complex and ever?evolving system and has a long way to go before it takes all alternative lifestyles into consideration. In the meantime, we need to be as familiar with the law and of law enforcement as we can be. Utilizing our knowledge, people skills, and common sense, we can hopefully avoid becoming victimized by the society we live in.
Almost any day, you can find some reference to our kink lifestyle in the media. Because our choices are often sensationalized and mis-represented, it can be difficult for public organizations, our government, law officers and our courts to understand the vital difference consent makes. And within our own communities, we need to share the message that for all orientations and experience levels - Consent Counts!
Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional intimidation of one partner to coerce or isolate the other partner without consent. Abuse tends to be cyclical in nature, escalates over time, and characterized by apologies between the episodes that it will never happen again.
SM is not abuse or domestic violence because:
SM is voluntary. The partners agree to erotic power exchange of their own free will and choice. Either partner is free to leave at any time. The fact that SM relationships do split (amiably or not) without retaliation or violence supports the importance of this distinction.
SM is consensual. All partners involved agree to what is going to happen. Discussion of limits is usual and customary. Violation of those limits is a serious offense within the SM community.
SM partners are informed. Participants involved in erotic power exchange have an understanding of the possible consequences.
SM partners ask for and enjoy the behavior; they are often disappointed if the behavior does not happen. There is no apology for the behavior after it is over, rather both partners are happy and satisfied that it occurred.
SM partners take great care to make sure that their activities are as safe as possible. To truly damage their partner would deny themselves of being able to participate in the behavior. Individuals that violate their partners limits soon find that they are lacking partners in which to engage in the behavior. To emphasize the point, SM groups frequent hold educational meetings on how to safely engage in the behavior.
Nonetheless, as with any group of people, you will find cases of domestic violence among SM practitioners. The organized SM-Leather-Fetish community does not condone domestic violence and actively encourages victims and abusers to seek help.
Sociologist Thomas S. Weinberg is the author of numerous professional articles on human sexuality in various scholarly journals. In Studies in Dominance & Submission, Dr. Weinberg says:
"While the individuals we have discussed are different in many ways there are, nevertheless, some common themes running through them. These similarities are all related to S&M as a form of social interaction. For example, the importance of learning both attitudes and techniques through a socialization process is evident in all of these [sigma] In order for an S&M scene to be successful, from the viewpoint of both partners, it must be collaboratively worked out. Unless there is satisfaction on the part of both master (or mistress) and slave, the relationship will terminate. Thus, there must be agreement on the scene and consent given by both parties. Adjustments must be made by participants so that they are both stimulated."
Thomas S. Weinberg (1995). Studies in Dominance & Submission, Prometheus Books: pg. 89.
NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place Friday evening, and Coalition Partners were able to participate via streaming video to give their input on the new Consent Statement. Go to www.ncsfreedom.org to see the Consent Statement and comment on it. “The Consent Statement…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF Survey on Consent The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) wants to hear from you! Please take our Consent Counts survey and tell us what you think about consent: www.ncsfreedom.org/survey.html As part of decriminalizing BDSM in the legal codes, we need to be able to articulate a clear definition of consent that the BDSM communities believe in. The results of this…
NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts February 27, 2012 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) announces two new publications as part of its nationwide campaign, Consent Counts. The Consent Counts Project was launched by the BDSM-leather-fetish communities in 2006 to decriminalize consensual BDSM in U.S. law by ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws and other statutes. "For…
Our BDSM communities could be adversely impacted by a well-intentioned, but overly broad, piece of proposed criminal legislation that has been introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe in the California Senate. NCSF is asking all of you to sign and send to NCSF letters (a draft is attached below) that we can introduce if necessary at a hearing likely to be held in April, 2011. The purpose of the bill, SB…
In an indictment rendered by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Missouri on September 9, 2010, five Missouri men allegedly participated in torturing a mentally disabled woman online or in person over a multi-year period when the victim was between the ages of 16 and 24. Among the charges are: Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud or Coercion, Forced Labor Trafficking, Transportation for Sexual Activity, and Conspiracy. The allegations…
Developed Educational Programs and Outreach Materials
Built Alliances With Sexual Freedom Advocacy Groups
About Consent Counts
NCSF is leading a major national campaign—Consent Counts—to change the laws and police practices that our communities now endure, and to establish that consent is available as a defense in criminal BDSM prosecutions.
BDSM is prosecuted as assault in the U.S., even when it is consensual.
No state or appellate court has allowed consent as a defense to assault in BDSM cases.
Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM.
Program Goals: Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM through education, advocacy, legal actions and lobbying.