the Blacklight Arrow

David Blacker’s Blog

US Nanny Corps Bans Porn

United States Republican Representative Paul Broun of Georgia is set to introduce legislation that will force the Department of Defense to ban the sale of “nudie” magazines on US military bases worldwide.

The loss of revenue these publications will incur if the new law comes into place will be fairly significant — sales of magazines such as Penthouse, Playboy, and Playgirl on US bases brought in $231,000 in Europe alone in 2007. This proposed ban isn’t that surprising, given the increasing prudishness and religious conservatism that the US Christian Right is imposing on the civil populace, thinly disguised as political correctness. More and more restrictions are placed on US military personnel, particularly those serving overseas, with sexual fraternization being frowned on, even amongst troops of similar rank. Things have deteriorated to the point that female soldiers serving in the Middle East were threatened with court martial just for some harmless mud-wrestling. What is shocking, however, is that people still read Playboy in this day and age. I guess it’s just Americans reading it, and if that’s true, then the mag is pretty much going down now that it’s about to lose this significant readership group. At first, I explained away the stats about Playboy sales as a result of US soldiers serving in the arse-end of the world not having access to quality porn, but almost a quarter of a million dollars of sales in Europe? Haven’t these dumb Yanks seen the porn available in Germany and Holland? You can buy hardcore stuff in the supermarket, for God’s sake. But apparently it’s not all about the pictures.

Playboy is good entertainment while you are on the can,” said US Army Pfc Greg Smith, 21, based at Grafenwohr in Germany. “They have jokes and good stories.” Right.

“We all read ’em,” said Pfc. Paul Rubio, 31, “There are times we just read ’em for the technological parts like the new gadgets that come out. They have good stories sometimes too.” OK, gadgets.

A DoD committee that reviews materials sold on US military bases, ruled in 2007 that the aforementioned magazines were not pornographic. And they aren’t, if you’ve ever been out of the States. However, the wording of Broun’s legislation, which will come under the Military Honor & Decency Act will once more bring these publications under scrutiny. What is more disconcerting is the fact that this wording effectively changes the definition of what is deemed sexually explicit, and this lowering of the threshold will force the DoD to review even such publications as FHM and Maxim, which cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be termed pornographic. Even the British edition of FHM, which is traditionally steamier than its American counterpart has been so watered down of late that I don’t even bother buying the bloody thing anymore. GQ has more skin in it these days than FHM.

This restriction of privileges for military personnel could result in a loss of morale, particularly in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where troops are exposed to regular danger and denied many of the comforts afforded to their comrades serving more peaceful postings. Similar arguments were unsuccessfully put forward when the Sri Lankan Government introduced new restrictions in 2006 under the National Authority on Tobacco & Alcohol (NATA) which, amongst other things bans sale of tobacco and alcohol to those under 21 years of age, thereby ensuring soldiers aged 18-20 are allowed to kill and die for their country, but not smoke. The SL Army cigarette ration of a carton (100 fags) per man per month was discontinued.

I’m not too sure what the SL MoD’s tolerance of porn is, but I guess it theoretically reflects that of the GoSL, which is zero. In practice, however, I bet the SL military follows its unofficial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act, which it applies to the areas of homosexuality, sexual abuse, human rights violations, etc.

In the US military, however, the proposed ban isn’t being well received, particularly down at the sharp end of things.

“It would suck if they ban it,” said 34-year-old Sgt Simon Brown, of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, who was entertained by his copies of FHM and Maxim when he deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005. “It’s bad enough we are down there to begin with. Taking that away would be like a knife in the chest. I’m not saying I’m depending on Maxim to keep me alive over there, but it helps.” Brown is preparing to deploy to a possibly porn-free Iraq this summer.

However Rep Paul Broun, himself a former marine, alleges that the magazines sold in US bases are partially responsible for a recent rise in sexual assaults and other problems in the military. Maybe they should send him on a tour of the SL Army — we don’t have any porn, but lots of sexual abuse.

Broun’s website claims that, “Allowing the sale of pornography on military bases has harmed military men and women by: escalating the number of violent, sexual crimes; feeding a base addiction; eroding the family as the primary building block of society; and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad.”

Armies, as institutes, are set up in order to kill and maim as many people as possible in the shortest possible time, and capture everything they hold dear. And Broun is worried about morality? I think a bit of sexual relief would probably reduce the number of excesses carried out by US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The French had this theory down pat — and until late into the 20th century, they had their own brothels with them — licensed, monitored, and regulated according to military law. I think it’s a great idea, and should be introduced immediately in Sri Lanka. That way, steady employment is provided to segments of the female civil populace, in a way that also ensures they’re safe, paid a standard wage, get enough rest, and have their medical needs taken care of. It’ll also prevent the Holy City of Anuradhapura from having the most number of illegal brothels per square kilometer of any town or city in the country, many staffed by underage, diseased, and frightened young women and girls. Prostitution, however, is a different subject, and not related to this post.

Broun initially justified his posture by saying, “Taxpayers will not be footing the costs of distributing pornography on military bases.” When he was informed that the magazines were not subsidised by public funds, and that military personnel purchased the publications with their own money, Broun pointed out that taxpayer money is “used to pay military salaries, so taxpayer money is, in effect, being used to buy these materials.” In other words, Broun feels the government has the right to tell its employers what they may or may not buy.

Some people, however, supported the proposed porn ban. Roberta Woolley, the wife of a USAF member, living on Yokota Air Base in Japan, said, “It’s a good idea. I think there’s better literature out there.” Of course there is, but try wanking off to National Geographic. She went on to say that pornography, like alcohol and cigarettes, didn’t promote a “healthy lifestyle”. The fact that the military isn’t a health spa seems to have escaped some people. Neither is it a high school, and US troops in the Pacific point out that such a ban impinges on their personal and constitutional freedoms.

“They’re making it a point of undermining soldiers to almost make them feel like we’re back in elementary school,” Pfc. Nickolas Sears said Friday at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea. “We’re all adults here, and if it’s something we want to do, we should feel free to choose as we please.”

“I believe it’s a breach of freedom of speech,” said Senior Airman Garrett Deese, 25, who just completed a tour with the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.

Sgt Pou McCall, 23, a female soldier based at Grafenwohr in Germany, also says she’d support the ban, even though she doesn’t really have a problem with porn per se. “What if it was their (soldiers’) sisters (in the magazines)?” she said. “It doesn’t take a magazine for sexual harassment to happen but it increases it.”

“I’ve seen all these magazines, and they don’t make men or women intelligent or beautiful,” went on Roberta Woolley. “And even though they’re hidden, there is still exposure to children as well. It’s the parents’ responsibility to give ideas about body awareness to their children. I don’t think Mr. Hefner presents a positive image of men or women in his magazine.”

Comments such as those by McCall and Woolley question the larger issue of pornography in society as a whole, and are not really relevant to the military. If society deems it legal (and therefore tacitly ‘correct’) to sell pornography, alcohol, tobacco, petrol, Tommy Hilfiger clothes, etc to the general public, why should the military be treated as children who must have their choices made for them by a nanny state?

This effective censorship of literature available to military personnel could also be seen as the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to censorship and freedom in general. Would it then be permissible for the US Government to ban other forms of literature that could be termed “unhealthy” or “immoral”? Would magazines, books or newspapers that promote an anti-war agenda be banned because they don’t conform to a MoD view on what is “correct” for soldiers to experience? Would literature that targeted a particular political administration be deemed no longer suitable for military personnel? In May 2001, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), which runs the majority of post exchanges on US bases worldwide, decided not to stock American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, which is an authorized biography of McVeigh.

I think this issue of pornography in the military is a topic not relegated to just pornography in the military. It’s an issue of state control over the minds of a group of its citizens, and should be looked at and dealt with as such.

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May 7, 2008 - Posted by | Literature, Sex, War | , , , , , , , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. The problem is having extremists in postions of power or influence.

    There is no doubt the resourceful solidiers of the US army will get what they want, perhaps at a higher cost. WHat say if you and I set set up some mobile bookstores that move from camp to camp, we could cash in on this? Sales will be at a small premium to compensate for the extra costs of course.

    Comment by Jack Point | May 8, 2008 | Reply

  2. This nonsense will only last until someone digs up some dirt about Paul Broun and his past misdeeds. Maybe Messrs Heffner, Flynt and Guiccione have already got people on the job???

    Comment by robincruz | May 8, 2008 | Reply

  3. So pictures of naked woman are extremely harmful to the people who carry highly explosive devices such as nuclear bombs – Interesting. Come to think of it, we should air drop porn in enemy territory next time. I suggest Asian porn.

    This is defiantly a proud movement for Georgia, where most ridicules laws can be found, such as
    “Chicken must be eaten with the hands”,
    “Donkeys may not be kept in bathtubs”,
    “All citizens must own a rake”,
    “It is illegal to say “Oh, Boy”,
    “Can’t cut off a chicken’s head on Sunday.”,
    “One man may not be on another man’s back.”,
    “Against the law to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp.”,
    and after all, most important law from Georgia, Quitman..
    “It is illegal for a chicken to cross the road.”

    Comment by sam | May 8, 2008 | Reply

  4. As if they didnt have enough problems in the US army with morale, enlistment, etc….I hate these bloody holier than thou wankers like Broun….I echo robincruz in eagerly awaiting the day his dirty laundry comes out.

    Comment by N | May 8, 2008 | Reply

  5. There’s probably a Broun version of Ashley Dupre somewhere I’ll bet…

    I mean sure the ethics of porn are always debatable but its always the readers choice and if they want to read, so be it.

    Some “land of the free”.

    😛

    Comment by Dili | May 8, 2008 | Reply

  6. you were tagged. check my blog pls. top ten random things that bring you happiness.

    Comment by dhammika | May 16, 2008 | Reply

  7. Oh fuck off.

    Comment by David Blacker | May 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. hmmm… the same to u?

    Comment by dhammika | May 16, 2008 | Reply

  9. also to let you know, you hurt my feelings. seriously.
    not that you care anyways.
    tc
    🙂

    Comment by dhammika | May 16, 2008 | Reply


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