New York AG Shuts Down “Smackfest” Slapping Contests

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Successfully concluding his latest campaign to enhance public safety, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has announced a settlement under which an Albany radio station will stop its “Smackfest” competition, in which young women slap each other for prizes.

Spitzer stated that WQHT in Albany had held 24 of the contests during 2004 and 2005. Smackfest competitors took turns “violently slapping” each other for prizes ranging from concert tickets up to $5,000 in cash. The station posted Smackfest pictures and videos on its website.

Officials of the station’s parent company originally defended the contest as “harmless entertainment”—although at least one match drew blood, which doesn’t seem entirely harmless—and noted that hundreds of people had voluntarily signed up for the contest. But Spitzer charged that the contest was a “combative sport” similar to boxing, and so the station had violated the law by not obtaining the necessary permits. Because it’s okay to arrange for people to beat the crap out of each other, as long as you get a permit. That’s good to know.

Under the settlement, the station’s parent will pay $240,000, much of it going to a nonprofit group that promotes awareness of domestic violence issues. The station’s website no longer features any Smackfest photos, but it does show that the station is sponsoring World Wrestling Entertainment’s “SummerSlam” event. Because it’s okay to arrange for people to pretend to beat the crap out of each other, and you don’t even need a permit for that.