Good citizens of Amherst, there’s a threat to the town’s moral fiber hiding in plain sight in your grocery stores: Redbox.
Jim Tricoli raised the alarm about the video vending machines at the last Amherst Town Board meeting, when members considered a new law requiring adult businesses in the town to keep up on their taxes.
“Quite a few of those films have sexually explicit scenes,” said Tricoli, a close watcher of town government and publisher of the Amherst Times website. “Now, do we license Redbox and get some taxes from that company? 'Cause they are definitely showing films that have naked – uh, you know what I’m talking about. I just rented one this week.”
Supervisor Brian Kulpa, struggling to keep a straight face, said, “We do not license Redbox vending currently. I would have to ask Stan to explain the difference between a video that Redbox would rent and what would qualify as a standard for sexually oriented business.”
Town Attorney Stan Sliwa gamely answered: “A sexually orientated business is one whose substantial income is derived from the distribution of sexually orientated materials.”
Sliwa said there could be First Amendment issues if the town tried to apply that standard to Redbox.
Board member Jacqualine Berger: “I would like to point out that the Redboxes do not have X and above-rated films. There’s a difference.”
Tricoli, piping up from his seat in the audience: “They do have scenes where men and women are visibly naked. They’re getting away with it.”
Sliwa interjected: “It has to be obscene.”
Kulpa, finally, closed the public hearing and called the question, holding back laughter as he did.
Be forewarned: Next time you rent from Redbox, put your DVD in a brown paper bag.