‘Sin City of the South’ is a title Tampa has chosen

It used to be that New Orleans held the questionable title of “Sin City of the South.” It used to be that New Orleans was the place to go to hear the words, “You name the vice, I name the price.” It isn’t that way so much anymore.

Hurricane Katrina, devastated New Orleans. Arguments have been made saying much of the “Big Easy” culture – which certainly included plenty of sinning – was wiped out by the fatal waters brought by the storm. However, when it comes to sin and vice, there is little looking back. New Orleans is out of the running, so a new city has to be the home of vice in the Southeast, and Tampa may very well be the place.

Tampa’s leaders have tried to clean up the city – through 6-foot rules and raids on the questionable “lingerie modeling” establishments that dot Tampa. However, Tampa isn’t exactly what someone would call a family-friendly place.

The neon signs on North Dale Mabry near Interstate 275, while understandably vague, certainly suggest the sale of a “product” known to all humankind. Establishments servicing the “amorous” border one of Tampa’s proudest structures: Raymond James Stadium. Most places in Tampa are in close proximity to an establishment somehow linked to the adult entertainment industry.

That may change. On Nov. 7, voters will answer a straw-poll question about whether law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County should use every means allowed to regulate adult businesses. Although the vote has no legal consequences, it will certainly influence the behavior of Tampa’s political leadership. Regulating adult businesses into bankruptcy would, after all, solve theproblem quite well.

It’s hard to defend the business on its own merit. It is, by definition, pornographic. The signs that dot Tampa’s landscape give the city a seedy, undesirable atmosphere.

Some complain this atmosphere brings down the prices of their property. However, those in charge of zoning laws are usually not sympathetic to the sellers of sin.

Others complain it’s immoral, although consensus on that topic probably won’t ever be found. After all, prostitution is reportedly the oldest profession there is.

One has to wonder why the government feels it necessary to regulate a “product” for which there is clear demand in Tampa. If Tampa doesn’t want the title of “Sin City of the South,” its residents should just not buy products from the establishments that give the city that title – not give government carte blanche to regulate a business for which there is clear demand.