T-shirts with lewd pictures and words are drawing the attention of families, and officials, in Wildwood, N.J.. No specific ordinance prohibits the displays, but the Shore town’s trying to hide the shirts in favor of its focus on being family friendly.
Mayor Ernie Troiano knows the limits of his power.”Have we tried to have ordinances? Have we tried to enact laws to correct this? Absolutely,” he says. “The bottom line comes down to freedom of speech and what’s the difference between obscenity and pornography.”The shirts suggest drug use, include curse words and depict scenes that might not be appropriate for children.Troiano said he doesn’t like to see the T-shirts on the boardwalk, but it’s tough for any city to govern taste. “It just so happens we have a big boardwalk with a lot of people and a lot of stores,” he says. “We try to make sure that — those who try to every once in a while put them out in the front of the store — we ask them to put it in the back.”Tracy DuFault, the executive director of the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce, said the lewd T-shirts go against Wildwood’s family-friendly atmosphere and she doesn’t want to see them on the boardwalk.”Unfortunately. it’s turned into sort of a cat-and-mouse type of game in which as soon as they are approached to move them in the back, they move them in the back, and as soon as the boardwalk inspector leaves they move them back out front,” DuFault says of the store proprietors. “So, certainly, we need to get them out of the view of families with young children and even young teenagers.”
Troiano said one way to get rid of the offending T-shirts is to convince people not to buy them.