Monday, August 6, 2001

Week of 08/06/2001

The Gold Club – Just Another Bloody Shirt
- by David Matthews 2

"Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o' thousands thou has slain!"
- Robert Burns

Moralists, bible-thumpers, and anti-sex activists were cheerfully awaiting the following headline from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on August 3rd:


After months of testimony, after months of accusations, after months of alleged sordid details of sex, drugs, celebrities, credit card fraud, and Mafia connections, the trial of the Gold Club more or less ended when the principal players accepted plea deals with the imperial federal government. Out of the 89 charges filed among five defendants, club owner Steve Kaplan plead guilty to only one – racketeering. For that, he gives up three to five years of his life in prison, five million dollars, and the ownership of the most prestigious money pit in Atlanta. The four others, including a dancer accused of prostitution, would get probation for "failure to report a crime."

But all of the details don’t matter to the anti-sex and anti-freedom crowd. They don’t care about that. They only care about one single thing: the closing of a strip club. That’s all that matters to them.

The anti-sex and anti-freedom crowd rejoiced when they saw the US Marshals put chains on the doors of the strip club. They rejoiced when they saw how empty the club was. They rejoiced when they saw the tears from the eyes of the dancers who used to make thousands of dollars per week pack up and leave, never to return to the club again. They were waiting, hoping, and praying for years to see that scene of their self-righteous victory. And they got it.

The surreal part about the whole Gold Club trial, though, was the lack of credibility from the prosecution. Most of their witnesses were admitted perjurers and criminals who cut deals in exchange for their testimony. Even after calling two sports figures and the former president of World Championship Wrestling to the stand, they couldn’t prove prostitution. The only connection between Kaplan and his employees and the Mafia came from hearsay testimony. And as for credit card fraud, rather than prove "hundreds" of cases like the imperial government STILL claims happened, only one or two real cases were produced. The rest were easily dismissed as men being drunk and stupid. The government’s own witnesses even made the accused look good in front of the jury. Court observers speculated that two jury members were dismissed because they knew the government did not prove their case.

And yet, five of the seven defendants on trial still went for a plea bargain. That makes me wonder just what the imperial government held over their heads. Jackie Bush, the dancer accused of prostitution, was a mother of three. Did the government threaten to take her children away and declare her to be an unfit mother? Did they threaten to do the same to Kaplan’s children? Why did these five make deals that would forever taint their names and give credence to the anti-freedom crowd?

Of course, those answers will remain a great mystery. Just like a magician doesn’t like to have his secrets exposed, the all-powerful government does not like having their tools of coercion made public.

Mind you, I’ve never been to the Gold Club. I’ve only seen it once in making my way down Piedmont Road. But I did get enough information through the Internet and other sources to know that the club was there primarily for big spenders. Of course, if looking out for big spenders were considered to be a crime, then so would a lot of luxury items be as well.

But let’s get brutally honest here… the crux of the Gold Club trial wasn’t about what was going on in the club. The trial itself proved that there was more fluff than substance to the allegations the government presented. The trial was there for two simple reasons.

First, because the government wanted their pound of flesh. Prosecutors wanted Kaplan to be their patsy and testify against his associates in New York, and he refused. So they did to him what they did to the owners of another strip club called Scores: they made outlandish allegations of racketeering, drug trafficking, prostitution, and credit card fraud, and then struck up plea deals with them. Just ask Richard Herman, who was indicted by the government on similar charges and was acquitted, but still was forced to testify for those same prosecutors.

If you ask me, the real racketeers here are with the government.

The second motivation for this trial was not made apparent until after the deal was struck where Kaplan would give up the Gold Club. That motivation was simple – land.

The Gold Club is located in a very desirable stretch of Piedmont Road. Businesses looking to set up shop there would pay a pretty penny for that property. It should be no surprise to my fellow freedom-supporters that the biggest aggravators looking to ban "undesirable" businesses just happen to be real estate brokers. After all, seized and shut down businesses mean quick profit and hefty commission checks for realtors!

But more than that, guess who owns the property on either side of the club? The Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority! That’s right… the Atlanta city government itself! And they have not hidden their desire to covet that property for their own expansion programs. Why do you think Atlanta’s thug mayor Bill Campbell was quick to want the club shut down when the indictments were first issued? He was salivating at the prospect of MARTA taking the land. Don’t be too surprised if MARTA becomes the highest bidder in the government’s auction of the now seized property.

In colonial New England, citizens of the town of Salem were tried and executed on the allegations of witchcraft. But what went on without little mention was the real motivation behind those allegations – the seizing of land of those accused for the gain of those in power. When the trials were put to an end, those involved behind this heinous crime managed to get away with it simply because they could claim they were sold into the hysteria of the accusers. A perfect crime, carried out by those who were considered above reproach.

Today, you don’t have to accuse someone witchcraft. In fact, if you do, you’d be reminded that witchcraft is protected by the Freedom of Religion. Instead, accuse them of being in league with the mob, or with drug dealers. That will give the government authority to take their property and forever blacken their names. Then you can covet their belongings at cut-rate prices thanks to the government.

Of course, the closing of the Gold Club only means that business will pick up at the other clubs all over Atlanta. Big spenders will spend their money where they are welcomed. And the two hundred or so dancers, bouncers, disc jockeys, cooks, waiters, and valet attendants will probably find work in those other clubs. But they won’t be making the kind of money they used to make at the Gold Club. And that is sad.

But the really sad part is that, thanks to the government, the Gold Club has become yet another "bloody shirt" for the moralists to waive about in their quest to force their opinions upon us.

Of course, the moralists LOVE to waive their bloody shirts about. They love to exploit victims of tragedy and use it in their crusades. Some young woman dies from an overdose, and she happens to be a dancer, and instantly the strip club is blamed for her decisions. They supposedly created "the lifestyle" – which has become yet another demonized catchphrase. Some jackass gets drunk and plows his car into a family of six, and he just happened to have visited a strip club hours before getting sauced, so instantly the club is blamed for the drunk driving accident.

That’s all that the Gold Club is to these tyrants now, just another instrument for them to use in their PR campaign, another sound-byte to be used for the media.

Mark my words: at some town meeting someplace in America, some self-righteous activist will stand up and proclaim that they do not want "THAT" kind of a business in the area because they don’t want the area to be involved with drugs and the Mafia. And then they’ll wave the Gold Club bloody shirt about as proof. Whether or not the business in question is even remotely involved with drugs or the mob is immaterial. After all, we’ve all seen "The Sopranos", right?

As history has shown, the facts are irrelevant in a witchhunt. Only the results matter.

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