Ars gratia artis

As you will have deduced by now, the primary function of blogs and forum posts and comment pages on the net is to explain for you those complex issues facing us, to make clear the murky, to illuminate dark corners, to salvage grace from the vicissitudes of harsh reality… well, you know what I mean.

What that requires, frequently, is presentation of a current news item, along with spirited elaboration and trenchant analysis and bullshit like that. Once in a while, however, a news item appears which seems to need no explanation, needs no analysis, needs nothing but a place to sit so you don’t fall on the floor laughing. For instance, the following The Associated Press story. (Occasional emphasis added, and a few dull parts deleted.)

ALBANY, N.Y. — No one would confuse the Nite Moves strip club with the Bolshoi Ballet, but what the lap dancers do there is art and entitled to the same tax exemption other performances enjoy, a lawyer argued Wednesday… before New York’s highest court.

W. Andrew McCullough, an attorney for the suburban Albany strip joint, told the Court of Appeals that admission fees and lap dances at the club should be freed of state sales taxes under an exemption that applies to “dramatic or musical arts performances.”

He said that lap dancing is an art form and that, in any case, the state is not qualified to make such determinations, and that making such distinctions would be a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

A lawyer for the state rejected that analysis, and authorities are demanding about $400,000 in back taxes from the club.

….

During Wednesday’s arguments from the club’s lawyer, a skeptical Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. said the women are hired untrained and simply “do what they do.”

“We need to get past the idea that somehow this is the Bolshoi,” Pigott said.

McCullough … presented testimony from a cultural anthropologist who visited the club and concluded that the exotic dancing there qualifies as an art form.

Robert Goldfarb, an attorney for the state, said that nobody would visit the club if the dancers didn’t remove their clothes. He also argued that the exemption applies to “choreographed” performances, and what the Nite Moves dancers do doesn’t qualify.

….

A private lap dance goes for $20 for three minutes at Nite Moves, a windowless building with a small stage and a pole.

“It’s definitely a form of art,” a dancer said Wednesday afternoon at Nite Moves, where there was only one customer. She declined to give her name, saying she has another, unrelated job. “Some girls are up there practicing for hours when nobody’s in here.”

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