Gov. Bob Martinez called for a statewide investigation Thursday into the sale of sexually explicit music by a Miami rap group for possible violations of the state's obscenity and organized crime laws. A Fort Myers judge two weeks ago ruled there was probable cause to find that As Nasty As They Wanna Be was obscene and ordered the album by 2 Live Crew pulled from the shelves in Lee County.
The platinum album also is under investigation by law enforcement agencies in Dade County, according to Martinez.
"It is appalling to think that recordings that a judge has already determined may be obscene are readily available to minors throughout Florida," the governor wrote Peter Antonacci, statewide prosecutor. "Even more horrifying are reports that some of these lyrics are routinely recited by school students as young as seventh-graders."
In the letter Thursday, Martinez asked Antonacci to "conduct a full investigation into the possibility that Florida's RICO and obscenity laws have been violated by the widespread distribution of the records of the 2 Live Crew and perhaps other groups."
A spokeswoman for Skywalker Records, the Miami record company that produced the album, referred inquiries to the company's lawyer, who was unavailable for comment Thursday evening.
Martinez said he did not think the state should try to censor "the kind of legitimate public expression protected by the First Amendment." But he charged the album by 2 Live Crew doesn't meet that standard.
Under state law, it is a third-degree felony punishable by a possible five-year sentence and a $1,000 fine to distribute an obscene record or tape.
The state Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations statute, which includes obscenity violations, carries a first-degree felony punishment with a possible prison term of 30 years.
But Charlene Carres, a Tallahassee attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said works with literary, artistic, political or scientific value were not covered by the obscenity statute.
"It seems that with all the attention that's been given recently to legislators in Florida and other states . . . the governor is merely trying to garner attention," Carres said.
The lyrics of 2 Live Crew were passed out at a legislative panel meeting last month when lawmakers debated a bill that would add records to a statute that bans the retail display of some magazines and books. The legislation was approved 2-1 by the House Film Industry Subcommittee.