Morality in Media is an organization that has been fighting “indecency” in the United States since 1962. They believe that pornography causes social harm and spend their time lobbying to stamp out freedom of speech in any respect related to adult content. This summer, they sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, which read, in part:
The Military Honor and Decency Act, passed in 1996, prohibits the sale or rental of recordings and periodicals at military exchanges “the dominant theme of which depicts or describes nudity, including sexual or excretory activities or organs, in a lascivious way.” 10 U.S.C. 2489a(d)
The Pentagon has refused to fully implement the Military Honor and Decency Act, freely allowing the sale of such publications as Playboy, Penthouse, Nude, and other magazines that dominantly depict nudity in a lascivious way.
The group asked the Pentagon to take away the aforementioned nudie mags, also requesting that the military do something to prevent servicemen and women from accessing pornography using electronic devices on all military bases and government-owned facilities worldwide.
The Pentagon received the letter and Assistant Secretary F.E. Vollrath responded seven weeks later, saying:
In accordance with section 2495b, DoD [Department of Defense] established the Resale Activities Board of Review to review the material offered for sale or rental on property under DoD jurisdiction and make recommendations to the Secretary of Defense regarding what material should be prohibited from sale or rental in accordance with section 2495b(a). Any material that is found to be sexually explicit, as defined by section 2495b, is not offered for sale or rental on property under DoD jurisdiction. If such materials are already on the shelves, they are removed. All adult sophisticate material approved for sale is displayed on top shelves with privacy panels, out of the reach of children.
The Resale Activities Board of Review previously reviewed the publications cited in your letter and determined that, based on the totality of each magazine’s content, they were not sexually explicit under the definition in section 2495b(e). Therefore the sale of these magazines on DoD property is permissible.
Following receipt of the response, Morality in Media updated its blog, noting, “Sex magazines are not sexy enough for the Pentagon! We didn’t run out to purchase the magazines in question to see if they no longer contain porn, aka, are ‘sexually explicit material,’ but we did take another look a the definition of ‘sexually explicit material’ in the law in question. It states, ‘The term sexually explicit material means Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ visual depictions, produced in any medium, the dominant theme of which depicts or describes nudity Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ in a lascivious way.”
Just over a week later, however, the Army Times reported nudie rags were going away anyway — not because of Morality in Media, but because the magazines just don’t sell.
Since more people are getting their porn online, Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores will no longer carry 891 magazines including Playboy, Penthouse, American Curves and Tattoo effective Wednesday, according to American Forces Press Service [AFPS].
The Internet has led to a massive decrease in the demand for print publications, as evidenced by the fact that sales of Ã¢â‚¬Å“adult sophisticate titlesÃ¢â‚¬Â at AAFES stores have plummeted 86 percent since 1998, an AFPS news story said.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service plans to use the shelf-space once occupied by the magazines to cater to what people actually want: electronic gadgets. And so porn lives on.
Header image by shell belle.