Att. shoppers: explicit material

July 2, 2008
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My just-over-the-cubicle-wall colleagues at Indiana Lawyer reported yesterday that Judge Sarah Evans Barker "threw out a new Indiana law requiring bookstores and other retailers to register with the state and pay a $250 fee if they want to sell sexually explicit material."

The story quotes Barker as stating: ''A romance novel sold at a drugstore, a magazine offering sex advice in a grocery store checkout line, an R-rated DVD sold by a video rental shop, a collection of old Playboy magazines sold by a widow at a garage sale ... would appear to necessitate registration under the statute." She added that the law was "unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.”

My question doesn't have to do with law, just day-to-day living: Are you more offended by the existence of adult bookstores or by the headlines on the mainstream magazines displayed at your local supermarket check-out lines?

(FYI: This month's Cosmopolitan cover includes "Taboo Sex," "Caught Butt Naked," and "The Hottest Words to Say to a Man During Sex"--not to be confused with last month's "The Hottest Things to Do to a Man in 60 Seconds or Less," and "His G Spot.")

Or are you good with it all?

Your thoughts?
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  • At worst case senario, it (all forms of media content) should be regulated like Video Games, TV, Movies, and Music. Informing the consumer of the potential content, but not stopping unless under recommended age. When I use to work in retail, I would not sell rated Mature, R, or Explicit material to minors to save the company from having to return the material later because the parent does not watch their children.
  • I'd have to say the mags at the supermarket are of more concern to me.
    If people choose to go to an adult bookstore, that is their choice.
    Parents in line at a grocery store checkout with their kids don't have a choice.
    It's all right there for whoever is passing by, including kids with impressionable little minds.
  • This is censorship. Be careful where you go as it will undoubtly lead further. I don't know what it will take to understand the government cannot legalize morality. Besides I enjoy reading the covers of magazines in the grocery store line. I don't have to spend the money or the energy for titilation.
  • When I was a kid going through the supermarket checkout, I didn't give a rip about what was on the cover of Cosmo anyway. (What little boy cares about a girl magazine?) I was much more interested in the Weekly World News. And the candy, which on the whole would have been much worse for me than if I'd been paying attention to the sexy article titles. (Good thing Mom seldom let me have any of said candy.)

    That's not to say that the news and entertainment media aren't generally trashier now than they were in the past - thank you, 24-hour cable and People Magazine - just that kids are probably largely indifferent to a lot of that stuff that grown-ups get so uptight about. If I were a parent I'd probably be more annoyed by that Disney Adventures magazine that you see next to the TV Guide all the time. That's more attractive to a kid's eye, and seems to exist for the sole purpose of indoctrinating your kid with the spirit of rampant media consumerism.

    At any rate, the judge made the right decision. I guess the state will have to do without all those $250 registration fees from everyone from college bookstores* to art museum gift shops.

    *Actually, there is an adult bookstore in Bloomington called College Books. I've always thought that was very clever.
  • Color Me Free, I'm not advocating censorship. And I never suggested the government should get involved in what's offered at the supermarket check-out.
    I'm raising an issue. Lines are drawn all the time. Supermarkets don't put Penthouse in that spot. Is that censorship? And is it censorship when, in Hollywood grocery stores, many supermarkets cover up the tabloids so as not to upset the celebs who shop there?

    And, Brian, to suggest that kids don't take in what they read there is a little naive, don't you think? I've got four kids. They notice. Now, whether or not their noticing is a problem is up for debate.

    Thanks to all for continuing to discuss...
    Lou
  • I agree with Bryan,

    When I was about 7, my mom took me with her on a buying trip in Manhattan. She bought me a Cosmo to read on the plane because I liked the outfit on the front, and I wanted to look grown up, reading a magazine. I remember her flipping through it before she agreed to buy it, and I remember wondering why. That's because I paid absolutely no attention to the cover stories, or for the words inside for that matter.
    The woman sitting next to me on the plane, buried most of the flight in her Wall Street Journal, looked over and asked me, horrified, who'd bought me the magazine. I told her my mom did, and she looked over at my mother in disgust.
    I remember thinking that lady was mean and way too uptight.
    Incidentally, I still think that about her, and all the other people who worry about the impression magazine covers have on children while in the checkout line.
    Lighten up people, sheesh.
  • Lou, I didn't think you were advocating censorship. I know you were just raising an issue. The you in my note was a general whoever, not specific person(s).
  • I don't know what it will take for people who like to use the argument, you can't legislate morality, to realize that most of the laws on the books are, in fact, legislated morality... Why is it illegal for me to approach a person, kick their dog [animal cruelty], punch them[assault], and take their wallet [theft]? Because collectively, as a civilized society, we decided that these actions were inappropriate and immoral, and they were legislated as such.

    At what point will the courts cease allowing activist groups to hide behind the First Amendment as an excuse to permit inappropriate material to be displayed to minors, when that was never the intent of the amendment when it was written?
  • Lethargy,

    The reason why it is illegal to kick somebody's dog, is first of all the dog is owned by someone, and is therefore that person's property. We have laws to protect property from being forcibly taken or harmed by others. That is why you can not punch someone. It is physical harm against another individual that was not self-defense. And the same for taking someone's wallet. You are taking something that one individual owns (money, credit cards, etc) and has received as payment for performing work. It is not legalized morality but a protection of an individual against another individual who forcibly and purposely causes harm to another. It is an objective standard and is at the heart of the constitution of this country.

    In contrast a magazine on a stand does not fall into this category. First of all it does not steal something from you, it does not physically harm you. The store in which it is displayed does not force you to look at it and indeed does not even force you to shop there. Therefore it does not meet any objective standard of harming of an individual. And many (if not most) people would not find it offensive, or at the very least are not outraged by what they see. Should sexy clothes be banned in public too? That surely is worse than any magazine cover! It's a slippery slope you advocate.

    Also, as a consumer shopping at a private establishment you most certainly can make your opinions known to the store manager or even the CEO. And, if enough people agree with you, the store will have to consider removing material that a majority of people find offensive or risk losing consumers. Why do you think grocery stores do not sell Pornography? They know consumers would be outraged and would not shop there.
  • As an adult who does not have children... I get tired of the What about the children! argument. When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's my mom was never one to sensor what I watched or read. I remember in Jr High a book the teacher had assigned our class drew protests from all the other parents (except two, mine and my best friend's). The teacher pulled the book less than a week later, but my friend and I had already finished it. I remembered wondering what was so wrong with it? Why were other parents so freaked out? I didn't even like the book but since it became controversial I decided to finish it. I think the book was called Death Watch or something like that. I guess I was immune to the violence in the book since I had already seen many a Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood movie.

    I think the main point that people forget about children, is that children are adults in training. Why does everything in this world have to be kid-friendly? Why do they have to be entertained and shielded all the time? What about teaching them right and wrong and how to live in an adult world... one that they'll be joining very soon?

    I also agree with two of the above posts... as a kid I never paid much attention to those magazines. They didn't interest me in the least. I always wanted to play the Donkey Kong game in the corner.

    My mother didn't censor much of anything I ever read, watched, or listened to, but she did always know where I was at any time and with whom I was spending my time. I had a curfew and had to abide by it or else. I turned out just fine. I think it all has to do with a strong parental figure...not government mandated censorship.

    I think people today are reverting to an uptight 50's era mentality and it disturbs me. Parents are overly sensitive and get freaked out over any little thing. Yes, you should protect your children from harm, but you shouldn't protect them from life. They will otherwise be ill-equipped adults.
  • I have to disagree on a few points... My example of harming an animal is still animal cruelty regardless of whether it's owned by me, or you, or is a stray roaming the street. Whether it is or isn't personal property has no bearing on that. But I digress... The point that I was trying to make is that these laws are, in fact, based on the standards of morality established by the framers of the Constitution. Not speaking Biblically, but technically, morality is defined as, the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct, or a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct.

    In some civilizations around the world, women are still treated as property, to be used and abused however the men see fit. In our society, we view this conduct as being wrong, or immoral, and consequently have made laws against it. The same goes for murder, assault, theft, etc... Our society has deemed these to be wrong, so they were also made illegal. Simply calling it an objective standard does not make it any different than a moral standard. They're synonymous.
  • Delayed response, but heavy on my mind. While shopping recently at my local pharmacy, was not pleased to see front counter display of mag stating 'Angela Jolie's sex with twins'. Does this magazine offer consultation to my 6 and 8 year old son's?

    And how about the VIAGRA commercials at all hours, I'm furious. Both BOYS are music lovers, yet what a shock to hear one belt out 'VIVA VIAGRA' last week. I had to sit down and endure a lengthly conversation as to why it is OK to sing the original 'Elvis', yet not the VIAGRA commercial.

    Thank you for bringing attention to this unacceptable advertising, I plan on taking a step further and complain to a few publishers and ad companies with petition/signatures.

    Sincerely
    BEllis

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