COVID-19 SBA Disaster Relief: Adult Businesses Need Not Apply?

SBA COVID-19 Disaster Relief: Adult Businesses Need Not Apply?

With the world and nation’s economy going down the toilet due to widespread lockdowns and ‘stay at home orders,’ people are (understandably and necessarily) lining up for government assistance everywhere you look. The U.S. government has made it clear there’s at least one kind of business that need not seek loans, however, because the SBA (Small Business Administration) is barred from giving any to them. That business? The adult entertainment business, of course — seemingly Washington’s all-time favorite boogeyman and political punching bag.

Do the government’s SBA rules really prohibit giving disaster relief loans to porn companies, strip clubs, cam models and other adult businesses? The answer may lie in the wording of the government’s prohibition on loans to businesses that offer “prurient” goods and/or services — and if the some of the nation’s best First Amendment attorneys are right, as a matter of law, the answer might not be a welcome one from the government’s bean counters and lawmakers.

Either way, Calico thinks it’s a giant pile of BS that adult companies seem to be left on the outside looking in when it comes to SBA COVID-19 disaster loan assistance — and she lets the world know about it in no uncertain terms in her new post “COVID-19 Disaster Relief: Adult Businesses Need Not Apply?”

SBA process covid

by Calico Rudasill, Porn Movies For Women and Couples

As you may have heard, the multitrillion-dollar disaster relief loans made available to small businesses (and, evidently, some not-so-small businesses, as well) are not available to entrepreneurs and companies whose businesses the government considers “prurient” in nature.

I’ll give the government this much: It is quite upfront about this prohibition on loans to prurient businesses. They put it right on the first page of the application requiring those who apply to check off a box that reads: “Applicant does not present live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derive directly or indirectly more than de minimis gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature.”

Or maybe I should say the government was up-front about the prohibition, until the Small Business Administration ran out of funds for the loans, which has rendered the question of eligibility for those loans rather moot, for now at least. (It looks like another round of funding may be coming.)

No SBA Soup for You, Porn People!

While more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program may be forthcoming, I’d say it’s a safe bet that adult businesses and sex workers won’t be eligible to receive relief in Round Two, either.

The funny part is, there’s some question as to whether the SBA’s loan policies truly mean what everyone seems to believe they do – namely, that any company or entrepreneur involved in a sex-related business is shit out of luck in terms of getting their hands on these funds.

As a couple of attorneys recently broke down for the adult industry news site, the prohibition on SBA loans to adult companies isn’t new, as its origins trace back to a rule the government adopted back when Bill “Let’s Stick a Cigar in the Intern” Clinton was in the Oval Office, where he’d eventually… well, get up to some fairly prurient business of his own, I think it’s fair to say.

(Full disclosure: the lawyers quoted in the article linked above are both acquaintances of mine –for that matter, they’re acquaintances of a great many people in the adult industry, because they’ve been frequent attendees of adult industry trade conferences for years and years now.)

At any rate, as the attorneys in the YNOT article point out, the word “prurient” is one with a quite specific legal definition – one which simply doesn’t automatically apply to the movies porn studios make, or the shows cam models regularly put on, or really anything the adult industry does.

“Prurient speech is presumed to be protected under the First Amendment unless it is obscene,” First Amendment attorney Larry Walters says in the piece, adding that the SBA’s “exclusion is not limited to obscenity but appears much broader.”

Just What the Hell Does ‘Prurient’ Mean, Anyway?

While the SBA’s rule might seem clear enough to some people, I’m guessing most of them furrow their brow a bit when they hit the term “prurient,” because it’s not exactly a household word – unless you happen to live in a household that includes a First Amendment attorney, a judge who has heard an obscenity case or two, or someone who sat on a jury for one.

“Few people have encountered the term prurient in ordinary conversation,” Walters observes. “However, it is part of the Miller test for obscenity.”

Reed Lee, the other attorney quoted in the article, observes that it’s “important to note that in constitutional free expression law, which seems to be the issue here, the term ‘prurient’ has had a very, very narrow meaning in Supreme Court cases.”

“For at least half a century, the Court has expressly equated the term with ‘a shameful or morbid interest in sex, nudity, or excretion,’” Lee adds. “So, whatever metaphorical meaning might have been conjured in the past from the Latin root (‘to itch’) when speaking of ‘prurient’ private love letters or classical poetry, contemporary law has consistently used the terms to narrow restrictions on sexually explicit expression.”

By the way, that sentence above is just an example of how Reed Lee talks. I don’t mean how he talks in court, either; I mean in so-called ‘normal conversation.’ He doesn’t have to look shit up, either, because it’s all on file inside his head. I love the man, I truly do, but talking to him is a good way to make yourself feel like an idiot. 

But I digress…

Pretend we’re Right There in Front of You – In a G-String, if that Helps

The information above is probably a lot more lawyer-ish than you have come to expect from me – or than I’m capable of expressing on my own, obviously, seeing as how I’m no lawyer.

So, rather than echo, or pretend I’m sufficiently well-informed to be able to ‘agree’ with the points made by Messrs. Lee and Walters, I’ll just add my own two cents in a form that’s more consistent with my station in life, lack of legal education and general absence of couth.

I think it’s pretty damn rich of our federal government, one which has had more than its fair share of sex criminals, fraudsters and plain old assholes, to act like the porn industry or sex workers of any kind are somehow unworthy of taking out a loan – especially in times like these.

What up Congress; you’ve got $10 million for Shake Shack, but nothing for the Sugar Shack? When it comes time to vote on the next round of funding, or to consider repealing the rule against offering SBA loans to adult businesses, just pretend the adult industry is standing right in front of you – in a G-string, having just performed a quite vigorous lap dance for you. 

And by the way, all you Senators, Reps and staffers – don’t even think about going around pretending you’ve never seen the inside of a topless bar before, either. We already know that’s bullshit.

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