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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, June 23, 2000

Mirikitani’s proposal
from Twilite Zone

IN his zeal to shut down any business he deems offensive, City Councilman Andy Mirikitani is proposing to turn half of Honolulu into a "prostitution-free zone."

Mirikitani's fanatic obsession with the sex trade -- everything from adult magazines to nude dancing to prostitution -- is a little scary, mainly because he sees nothing wrong with trashing individual rights in order to pursue his own puritanical view of the world.

I've got an idea. Why doesn't the City Council set up an "Andy Mirikitani-free Zone?" It would encompass the Honolulu Hale building and surrounding grounds. The idea would be to keep Mirikitani away from City Hall so he can't use his position as a representative of all the people to indulge in his own personal hang-ups.

I'm not for prostitution. But we already have laws against it. The problem with Mirikitani is he's willing to shut down businesses with the swipe of a pen and with complete disregard for the property rights of citizens.

His prostitution-free zone is not so much a "zone" as an enormous geographic area that encompasses hundreds of businesses. It would run from Ward Avenue through the Ala Moana Center area and all the way down Kapiolani Boulevard into the far reaches of McCully.

On the surface, the proposal seems benign. It follows the establishment of Waikiki as a prostitution-free zone by the state. But there's a huge difference. Waikiki was crawling with streetwalkers. Even when they were busted, they'd be right back out on the street again. In the prostitution-free zone, any prostitute convicted of "street solicitation" is barred from Waikiki from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The Mirikitani zone, however, includes a mishmash of strip clubs, hostess bars and massage parlors where sexual activities could take place on private property.

NO problem, says Mirikitani. Under his proposal, that private property suddenly becomes public property because, well, because Andy Mirikitani says so. Every business owner in that zone forfeits certain due process rights. The government can ban them from being present on their own property.

I said the proposal was a little scary. Let me correct that. It's really scary.

Now, you say, what's the problem? We're talking about prostitution. Only businesses involved in that illegal activity have to worry. Wrong. Remember that Mirikitani's ultimate goal is to ban any sex-related commercial activity. Today we might be talking about strictly sexual intercourse-type prostitution. Tomorrow it will be nude dancing. Then it will be sexual books, magazines and videos. Suddenly, we've gone from Klub Koochi-Koo on Keeaumoku to Borders Books and Music on Ala Moana Boulevard. ("Because you sold a book with naked statues, you'll have to leave your store, Mr. Borders.")

Look, if you want to get rid of prostitution, make prostitution and pimping punishable by 10 years in prison. Problem solved. Prostitution is a business. If the cost of doing business gets too high -- like all your employees are in the clink -- the business fails.

But if a dating-impaired adult wants to buy a dirty magazine to keep him company on Saturday night, that's his right. And if some adults want to watch other adults dance naked, while paying too much for beers, that's their business. And despite what the tyrannical Mr. Mirikitani might think, the property on which they are cavorting is not public, it's private.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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