The manager of the company that runs the rest stops on the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway no doubt thought he was doing the right thing when he removed brochures touting an Atlantic City strip club.
Greg Dion, general manager of HMSHost, of Bethesda, Md., has said he thought the brochures for Bare Exposure - which calls itself "Atlantic City's only all nude entertainment" - were potentially inappropriate, and that's why he removed them from gift racks.
Plenty of people probably agree with him. The brochures feature only a woman's face - there is no nudity in them. But they do advertise all-nude couch dances and the availability of five intimate champagne rooms.
However, Anthony Ariemma, the owner of Bare Exposure, has filed a federal lawsuit against HMSHost, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the expressway, and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the parkway.
We suspect Ariemma will prevail in his lawsuit, which could prove costly for the two state authorities.
Like them or not, strip clubs such as Bare Exposure are a legal business. (We'd also add that a not-insignificant percentage of Atlantic City's visitors are indeed interested in going to such clubs. This is a gambling town - not a religious retreat.)
And Ariemma is arguing that he has the same First Amendment right to advertise in the rest-stop racks as any other business.
U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb has denied a motion to dismiss this case - and denied Bare Exposure's motion to put the brochures back in the racks while the suit continues. So at the moment, this case is headed for trial.
Dion, of HMSHost, said he made the decision to remove the brochures without consulting anyone from the SJTA or the Turnpike Authority. And again, he sounds like a guy who was just trying to do what he felt was right.
But do these two state authorities really want to continue to pay their lawyers - with the public's money - to defend this decision? Government invariably gets itself into trouble when it tries to be the morality police - and that's what is going on here. The SJTA and NJTA need to settle this suit and move on.