The Resighini Rancheria tribal council should reject plans to build a strip club in Klamath.
The 3,000 square-foot club would be located near the Gold Bear Casino in a building now being remodeled. Council members likely will vote on the strip club later this week.
Supporters tout the club as part of an effort to develop tourist attractions on the 228-acre reservation. But a strip club hardly is quality economic development. When communities want to improve their business base to create jobs and revenue, usually the first thing to go is the red light district. Strip clubs don't draw many other businesses other than adult bookstores, after all. Certainly with limited space to create attractions, the rancheria must be choosy about what businesses it allows.
Strip club supporters say they have difficulty finding other businesses to open on the rancheria. Economic development is difficult--no doubt about it. But growing tourism can happen with a concerted, coordinated effort of all communities along the North Coast. New efforts are underway to accomplish that in Del Norte County, and the rancheria ought to be part of that. After all, travelers visiting Crescent City and Smith River do go to Klamath, and vice versa. But the same people who come here to see the ocean, hike the Redwoods, visit art galleries and enjoy our fine restaurants aren't the same clientele who will go to a strip club. Making a strip club the focus of economic development undermines those mutual efforts by making Klamath a less desirable place to visit.
The biggest problem with the strip club has little to do with economic development and tourism, however. The simple fact is that strip clubs degrade women. It objectifies women by valuing them only for their sexuality. And no one should kid themselves--very few young women choose the life of being a stripper but are forced into it out of economic desperation or because of abuse.
Indeed, tribal council members need not ask themselves why they want to harm economic development and tourism in the long-term just so their community can see a small spike in visitors following the strip club's opening. All they really have to ask is if they would mind if their own daughters performed in the club. If they don't mind, then it's time for the rancheria to find new leaders with a different moral outlook.