Indecency is in the eye of the beholder

As if the product being served up at Espresso Gone Wild wasn’t already stimulating enough, the Gorst establishment several weeks ago adopted a policy of outfitting its baristas in bikinis — and occasionally less.

Talk about your morning eye-opener.

The costumes led to two predictable outcomes — an increase in customers and outrage among some of the community’s narrower minds.

As evidence of the latter, the Kitsap County commissioners were asked last week to consider what it would take to enact a decency ordinance that would apply to scantily clad espresso servers.

And South Commissioner Jan Angel is apparently sympathetic to the idea.

“I don’t like this,” Angel said of Espresso Gone Wild’s choice of employee attire. “They have the right to do business the way they want to, but they should notify the public about what they are doing. You are notified if there is nudity in a movie. We should have the same notice for an espresso stand.”

While we believe Angel’s heart is in the right place, it should be pointed out that there’s a big difference between what she seems to be advocating and how the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theater Owners police themselves.

Namely, the movie ratings are strictly voluntary, while a decency ordinance by definition would carry the force of law. And even though there’s nothing wrong in theory with adopting laws that outlaw or at least regulate activities clearly outside the bounds of mainstream community standards, we have a hard time putting bikini-clad baristas in that category.

For our money, we’d prefer our local law enforcement officials devoted their resources to keeping drunk drivers off the street and shutting down meth labs rather than using a tape measure to calculate how short someone’s skirt is or how much cleavage they’re showing.

Instead of wasting valuable time debating needless, unenforceable and probably unconstitutional laws that regulate how other people dress, we prefer as always to put our faith in the free-market system.

If enough people are offended by what Espresso Gone Wild’s baristas are wearing — or, more to the point, not wearing — they’ll take their business elsewhere and the owners will have to develop some other gimmick to lure customers away from the approximately 10,000 other coffee stands that line the county’s highways.

Our guess is the novelty will wear off soon enough and the baristas will go back to covering up their goosebumps the old-fashioned way.

But if not, it’s really none of our business.

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