What's a Heaven For?
A man's conception of heaven is a good indication of his character. The July Forum Newsfront reports that Billy Graham doesn't think there is any sex in heaven. He did, while addressing a group of pro golfers several years ago, assert that there would be plush greens in the life beyond.
H. B. Dodd, Houston, Texas
Indian Rope Trick
As I write this, Chicago is plastered with posters announcing the imminent advent of Guru Maharaj Ji, a portly 15-year-old who offers divine wisdom and claims that his glassy-eyed followers number in the millions. This reminds me that while Christianity is responsible for a lot of the stupid and vicious acts that humans have perpetrated against one another, it certainly has no monopoly on irrationality. A news dispatch from New Delhi, India, told of a bus full of Hindus trapped by floodwaters. A man waded out to the bus with a rope that he had secured to a solid object on high ground, but the passengers, who came from two different high-caste communities, refused to share the same rope and most of them stayed in the bus. Seventy-eight people drowned.
Frank Callahan, Chicago, Illinois
Anyone who says he's an atheist is in effect proclaiming that his own conclusions are more accurate than those of most of history's greatest thinkers who believed in God. This is megalomania. No completely sane person can totally disbelieve in God.
Robert C. Dell, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Three Little Words
A friend of mine likes to quote, as an example of U. S. provincialism, an alleged incident in which an American diplomat told some Israeli and Arab politicos, "What you people need is a little Christian charity and forbearance." I don't know if this really happened, but it is typical of the American belief that the rest of the world badly needs our tribal totems in order to become morally superior, as we are. Perhaps we will eventually ship some Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland to the Near East to teach the locals about the wonderful harmony produced by Christian charity and forbearance.
What the world really needs is agnosticism. A militant atheist is as much of a public menace as is a militant Christian, a militant Hindu or any other religious fanatic. People who know that they are right (whether they believe in Jesus, Krishna, Joe Stalin or Donald Duck) are the cause of every single problem in the world except for those due to scarcity of certain resources. The agnostic has the only formula for peace, the only key that can put an end to hatred and violence, and it's just three simple little words. If everybody said them the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, it would do more good than all the "Hare Krishnas," "Our Fathers," and "Power to the peoples" currently being intoned. What are these magic words? Very simple: "I'm not sure."
Harry Celine, New York, New York
Sex and Jesus
The young woman who wrote in the August Playboy Forum about masturbating with a crucifix seems to feel that she had to choose between sex and God. Her act was fascinating to me in that it combined the desecration of a religious object and a symbolic sex act with a deity. The young woman's upbringing may have led her to believe that one either follows Catholic teachings strictly or becomes a complete atheist. But if she can get over that misconception and do a little reading or talk to the right clergyman, she'll find that it's perfectly possible to both worship God and enjoy sex. Indeed, the enjoyment of sex is a good way to show God we appreciate his gifts.
E. Hart, Fort Worth, Texas
The story told by the girl from Boulder, Colorado, in the August Playboy Forum was downright silly. After talking with a handsome young man, she realizes the absurdity of religion, tears her crucifix off the wall and masturbates with it--ouch! I wonder what sort of psychotic behavior she exhibited when she found out there was no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny.
I, too, was a devout Catholic virgin. But at some point as I matured I began to question things that had been drilled into my head; I started to think for myself and use my own conscience as a guide. I, too, now enjoy sex regularly, but my crucifix is still hanging over my bed.
(Name withheld by request), Chicago, Illinois
The Ethics Of Adultery
The Reverend Kenneth Claus wrote a letter that was published in the August Playboy Forum responding to my letter in the May Forum. His letter seems to support adultery, and I am concerned that some of your readers might think he writes with full knowledge and authority on the subject. Claus states, "The field of Christian ethics has undergone significant change, especially thanks to Joseph Fletcher and situation ethics." This sent me scurrying to my bookshelves to reread what little of Fletcher's writings are in my possession. Nowhere in the material that I have does the reverend doctor specifically condone adultery. I get the feeling that he has the utmost sympathy for the person forced by circumstances into adultery as the only way of obtaining sexual gratification, but he doesn't go as far as to declare, "Go to it, friend. It's all right with situation ethics."
My original point was that the words of Christ as reported in the Bible make it clear that he considered adultery sinful. If one is to acknowledge the divinity of Christ, one must be prepared to try to live according to his teachings and consider adultery sinful. Period, amen and so mote it be.
G. A. Malloch, Scudder, Ontario
Despite what Pepper Schwartz states in her letter in the July Playboy Forum, the fact that women are multiorgasmic does not indicate that women need more than one sex partner. One orgasm does not, as she claims, make a man feel like turning over and going to sleep. Often it inspires him to try for further pleasure. The male can learn to maintain his erection for long periods of time, just as the female can develop her capacity for multiple orgasm.
Schwartz assumes women are afraid to experiment sexually because of the double standard: "An unmarried woman may be able to have more than one partner, but she still isn't allowed 30." A woman's extramarital affairs are neither more nor less serious than her husband's. The fact that a double standard exists should not be used to justify promiscuity for either sex. Schwartz says that women are denied "the sort of prestige from sexual experience that our culture affords to men." Actually, the whole concept of prestige in exchange for sexual contacts is pernicious. The need for sexual prestige is one of the worst aspects of our commercialized, dehumanized approach to sexuality. Hopefully both sexes will outgrow the desire for this empty prestige. There is no justification for assembly-line sex.
Schwartz states that women in multiple relationships find that the males can't accept the female's sexual freedom and therefore her value as a sex partner declines. I admit that if I were one of a string of 30 lovers or even of two lovers being exploited for the physiological aspects of sex, I would feel dehumanized and estranged from my partner. No one, male or female, likes to feel that he or she is one of many. Both sexes are subject to jealousy.
Both men and women should enjoy their own sexuality. Neither men nor women should demand that their partner be monogamous. But, unless we reaffirm the ideals of sharing and personal comradeship between men and women, we risk cultivating the sexual alienation, greed for status, loneliness and hostility that we have inherited from earlier generations. Dehumanized, gluttonous sex has been a traditional symptom of our society's malaise. I defy anyone to prove that a man or woman who has 30 sex partners shares anything but his or her body.
It is true, as Schwartz states in her last paragraph, that "some women will find nonmonogamous sexual styles more in keeping with their desires," but Schwartz confuses sexual liberation with sexual promiscuity. Let's hope that men and women will be able to accept each other's sexual integrity without feeling that they have to multiply their activities beyond reason. What we need now is less depersonalization and fragmentation, not more.
George Gentes, Oakland, California
Out Of The Cage
I'm an officer in the United States Navy and I have been happily married for nearly 20 years. Coming from a conservative Protestant background, I have had very narrow sex attitudes for most of my life. Gradually, over the years, my wife and I are becoming liberalized.
In recent months, we have finally dared to try some sexual experiments that would have horrified us when we were younger. At my wife's instigation, I have played a submissive and feminine role, even to the extent of allowing her to dress me in women's undergarments and pretend to rape me. I can't describe how frightened, guilty and ashamed I felt the first time we did this. I imagined every officer and man on my ship, my childhood clergyman, my parents and a dozen gossip columnists jumping through the windows to catch us and snap photographs. Especially disturbing at first was performing cunnilingus, not the usual way as something I was doing for her but as something she was forcing on me as a punishment while I was tied down; but I sure did enjoy it!
Weeks have passed, and we have repeated this and other diversions. I no longer feel guilty; I actually feel reborn, strange as that may sound. The world seems like a simpler and less terrifying place and, above all, I no longer feel any need to express disgust or outrage at other erotic minorities, such as homosexuals. It is as if I had lived in a dungeon all my life and have now discovered that the door was never locked and I could have walked out at any time. All my fears of being unmanly or degenerate now seem totally absurd, and I can only look with wry pity upon those who promulgate and believe the traditional sexual morality.
Thank God that love exists in this otherwise brutal universe.
(Name withheld by request), FPO San Francisco, California
The people whose shock at your behavior seemed so threatening to you are probably, behind their own bedroom doors, doing things they're afraid you might find out about.
In the July Playboy Forum, Playboy defends its position that, "People should feel free to follow whatever moral code they prefer, as long as they don't harm others and don't try to force their views on the unwilling." But what individual is so sage that when he does something, he can predict whether or not it will harm others? Playboy's approach to morality might suit a person who is concerned only with the transient and immediate pleasures of life, but it will not make for a lasting balance between the individual and his environment. Judaeo-Christian ethics have been future-shocked into near impotence in contemporary society, but they do have one valuable suggestion: The individual should get his morals from the community rather than from himself.
H. Willman, San Francisco, California
There's no guarantee that any ethical system will protect a person from causing unintentional harm. Ethics deals with what man knowingly and willingly does, not what he does by accident. We don't go along with your insistence that getting one's morals from the community is the only sound approach, but it is one of the valid optionsas long as the code, whatever it be, is freely and sincerely chosen.
I conducted a psychiatric study of promiscuity, the purposes of which were to understand why people turn to promiscuous sexual behavior, what they expect to gain from it and what forms it takes. I do not mean to imply that promiscuity is necessarily an emotional or social problem, since there have been many societies and cultures in which it is not only accepted but institutionalized and represents the norm. In such societies--the South Pacific islands, for example--relationships seem to be less intense, more casual and superficial.
The majority of the 28 couples and 32 single persons I interviewed had advertised in different swingers' magazines for group sex, swinging or just extramarital sexual relations. Most of them were not seeking sexual intercourse as a primary goal, but wanted something else that was not performance-oriented or connected with potency, such as oral-genital contact or general touching, caressing and fondling. They expressed to me feelings of loneliness or alienation. I believe the previously held opinion that promiscuous people are sexually dissatisfied and therefore are constantly searching for satisfaction is an oversimplification and a distortion. The cause of promiscuity does not have to be physical. Rather it can be a tremendous need to be loved and wanted; the physical contact is used merely to fulfill that need. I would say that promiscuous people lack the ability to love and to give without fear and expectation. They are more interested in getting than in giving.
I. Emery Breitner, M.D., Psychiatrist, Roslyn, New York
Orgasm In Women
I'd like to add my two cents' worth to the controversy stemming from Dr. Seymour Fisher's inference in his book The Female Orgasm that a woman's relationship with her father determines her ability to experience orgasm. My wife enjoys frequent and intense orgasms. This might surprise Dr. Fisher, since her father died when she was scarcely one year old.
(Name withheld by request), Miami, Florida
Dr. Fisher's findings have been widely questioned, but he did include fatherless women in his sample and found that a majority suffered from orgasmic dysfunction. The fact that some didn't, of course, can be explained in any number of ways. That's why psychology isn't an exact science.
The August Playboy Forum includes a discussion of the problems of men who go to bed with today's liberated women, can't get erections and are treated with contempt. I met a girl at college and we started seeing each other regularly. Two weeks after we met, I was visiting her apartment when she announced that she was going to seduce me. That was fine with me, but she went about it rather crudely, telling me what she expected of me instead of trying to put me in a (continued on page 186)Playboy Forum(continued from page 76) sensuous mood. She pulled me into her bedroom, where we made an unsuccessful attempt at intercourse. Once it was clear that I was not going to get an erection, she declared that I was prudish. We made a couple of more tries at lovemaking, but her attitude toward me was so obviously critical that I found it impossible to get into a good mood for sex. A few weeks later, I did get a partial erection, enough to allow us to have intercourse. But finally I had enough of this girl's condescending, arrogant attitude and I told her where to get off.
Fortunately, I'd had intercourse successfully several times before, so I wasn't completely crushed. But the loss of potency upset me enough to cause me to become a heavy smoker and to start seeing a psychotherapist. In therapy, I realized that a penis is not a mechanism that will become erect just because its possessor thinks it should. People say that impotence is on the rise in the U. S., but I wouldn't call cases such as mine impotence. Rather, I'd describe it as my emotions vetoing my intellect: I thought I wanted to go to bed with this girl, but my emotions did not go along with the act. Fundamentally, I have to like the person I go to bed with. It seems sad, but it is a mark of how sexually screwed up this culture is, that the idea of liking the people you have sex with should come to me as a revelation.
(Name withheld by request), Atlanta, Georgia
The Long And Short Of It
I am a 28-year-old nurse, and nurses probably see more penises than do any other group of women except prostitutes. For many of us, just the sight of a large penis is a turn-on. Of course, in our work we rarely see an erect penis. But a man with a large flaccid penis has a head start toward satisfying his sex partner if she is, as I am, aroused by the sight of it.
(Name withheld by request), New York, New York
I want to reinforce the August Playboy Forum letters debunking the penis-size myth by recounting my own experience For 21 months, I was married to a man who was builtz--and hung--like a Greek god. At first I thought I was lucky and was sure that I'd be well taken care of sexually, but was I ever wrong! My husband felt that it was an honor for me to be on the receiving end of his oversized tool; never once did he consider what I felt, which was pain on our wedding night and little or nothing thereafter. I never had an orgasm during the time we were married.
Then I got involved with a man with whom I worked. He had only an average-sized penis, but he knew how to use it to satisfy me and to make me feel like a woman. I was overjoyed when he asked me to get a divorce and marry him. When I told my husband that I wanted a divorce, he thought I was crazy and Loki me I'd never realize how lucky I was until I "balled some small stuff." Little did he know.
A man with a small- or average-sized organ who knows how to use it is far superior to some well-hung idiot who couldn't do a decent job of screwing if his life depended on it. All a man has to do is put forth a little effort and care about the woman he's with. The size of his equipment is irrelevant.
(Name withheld by request), Des Moines, Iowa
I can't recall many Playboy Forum correspondents who have been willing to admit that they engage in unconventional sex practices and also have been willing to sign their names to their letters. This makes me wonder if they have the courage of their convictions, or if they know what they are doing is morally wrong and are therefore ashamed to identify themselves.
John Smith, Chicago, Illinois
Whenever possible, "The Playboy Forum" prefers to publish letters with the author's name signed, but there are several valid reasons for requesting anonymity. A person may wish to describe an experience that contributes to a discussion of sexual behavior without sacrificing his own privacy or that of others. Or he may be admitting to some act that happens to be a crime under state or local laws. Finally, he may live in one of those medieval communities, inhabited largely by wowser brigades, beaver patrols and other inflamed antisexual neurotics, where discretion about one's activities or opinions may be essential to survival. John Smith?
Slip Of The Pen
I'm sure your readers will be interested to know that I can only achieve sexual gratification if my partner is a quadruple amputee, I am bound and gagged, both of us are receiving an enema and----
Oops! I got a little confused. 1 thought I was writing to Penthouse.
Andrew J. Saam, Cape Kennedy, Florida
The July Forum Newsfront contains an item about two teenage girls "apparently the first women in U. S. history to be convicted of rape." As unusual as it may sound, women can be convicted of rape if they aid another person in committing a rape. The possibility of convicting a woman for rape is part of the common law of England. Sir Edward Hyde East wrote in a volume on English law published in 1806, "All who are present and assist a man to commit a rape may be indicted as principals in the second degree, as well women as men." In California alone, there are several reported appellate cases upholding rape convictions in which the defendants were women.
Herman D. Roth, Davis, California
Victim As Criminal
Playboy has written a great deal about the absurdity of crimes without victims (homosexuality, prostitution, drugs, pornography, gambling), and I certainly agree that it is inane to define acts as crimes when nobody is hurt by them. But how about the crime in which a victim actually exists, but is paradoxically treated as the criminal? I refer, of course, to rape.
As everybody ought to know by now, there is one rape about every two minutes in the United States, as contrasted with a few rapes per year in sexually liberalized nations like Sweden and Denmark. In the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, for instance, statistics show that the number of rapes is increasing dramatically, even though, according to a study in Prince Georges County, Maryland, between 50 and 90 percent are not reported at all.
(continued on page 190)Playboy Forum(continued from page 187)
The reason that most rapes aren't reported, according to the Prince Georges County study, is that most women are more afraid of the police and their neighbors than they are of the rapists. Rape victims "are treated at best as a piece of evidence and at worst as a criminal," according to councilwoman Gladys Spellman, a sponsor of the study. The study found that most policemen yell at rape victims, treat most complaints as false, want to use lie detectors and generally regard the woman as the criminal in the case. The reactions of neighbors are often even more hostile and suspicious, if not mocking and lascivious.
Some charges made by women's liberationists are unfair, I grant you; but the actual treatment of rape victims in this country is proof positive that something fit to be called "male chauvinism" really exists and is just as widespread and cruel as racism.
Janet Dubowski, Washington, D.C.
Beast With Two Sides
Feminists are right when they say women can't get as good jobs or make as much money as men. But when it comes to personal relations between the sexes, I find women's lib to be pure bullshit. Here's why: Most men seem to want sex most of the time. Women apparently are much more in control of their sexual desires, able to give or withhold as they see fit. This puts women in the driver's seat socially and sexually. Men spend a great deal of time and energy trying to please women in order to obtain sexual favors. The seducer may be portrayed as a masterful Svengali or, as Germaine Greer presented him in Seduction Is a Four-Letter Word (Playboy, January), a quasi rapist. But the wretched truth is that a successful seducer is more like a lap dog pleasing his mistress with clever tricks.
Feminists claim marriage is an institution that oppresses women. Odd, isn't it, that from prehistoric times the objective of all men some of the time and some men all of the time has been to obtain sexual favors without having to get married? A man who marries acquires the responsibility of financially supporting a wife and children for the rest of his life, regardless of whether or not he stays married. The wife undertakes no equally burdensome obligations.
As for the economic advantages men supposedly enjoy, anyone who looks at the comparative life expectancies of men and women will see the price men pay for them. Look again, ladies, at your male chauvinist pig. He's actually an admirable beast of burden. He isn't on your back; you're on his.
Samuel Newman, Chicago, Illinois
To my dismay, I noted that people who have attended college were singled out in opinion polls in the April special Forum report Mr. Nixon and the Media and in the same issue's Forum News front item "Catholics and Contraception." These college-connected opinions supported Playboy's point of view, and the implication is that since college-educated people back a certain position, it must be the correct one. As a self-appointed spokesman for the noncollege crowd, I resent this elitist reporting.
Keith Doty, Broomall, Pennsylvania
Many surveys put college students and college-educated people in a separate category, and we report it when that category (or any other) takes a position significantly different from other groups. But that's news, not elitism. Statistically, it seems true that those who are college educated tend to be better informed than the average, but this may indicate only that such people are more inclined to go to college. We're not claiming that college-educated people have a monopoly on wisdom, intelligence or good sense.
Science For Heads
James E. Schutte's experiment that purportedly proved that marijuana is a dangerous drug (The Playboy Forum, August) relied on techniques that were archaic, to say the least. It's hardly surprising when a rat's brain--or a dog's, cat's, or human's--is removed, soaked in a Formalin solution, boiled for eight hours with Cannabis extract and nitric acid, and beaten in a blender, that "subsequent microscopic examination showed unquestionable cellular destruction." I am very skeptical of his results and ashamed that he is a part of the growing scientific community.
Howard B. Kaplan, Ph.D., Ann Arbor, Michigan
The experiment involved too many variables acting on the brain to blame only Cannabis for the damage.
Lou Tully, Ft. Collins, Colorado
When was the last time Schutte submerged his brain cells in nitric acid?
J. Kenna, La Mirada, California
James E. Schutte's letter has convinced my friends and me that experimenting with marijuana is dangerous. It's much safer just to smoke it.
Linda Pollick, Auberry, California
We put our friend Ernie through the same process that James E. Schutte put his rats' brains through. After we put Ernie's brain back into his skull, he just wasn't the same anymore. Schutte must be right.
Doug Hampton, Phoenix, Arizona
I hope none of your readers missed the humorous intent of James E. Schutte's letter in the August Playboy Forum. His letter was an excellent parody of the types of procedures and methodology evident in much drug-related research. Excesses of technique and/or zeal have been apparent in many studies.
One wonders what the true motives of some researchers really are. For example, the FDA's cyclamate ban a few years back was based on the ability of the artificial sweetener to produce cancerous growths in rats when injected in certain concentrations. There was apparently not one red face among the FDA researchers when other scientists noted that for a human to be endangered by cyclamates, he would have to consume the equivalent of several bathtubs full per year for several years.
Of course, there are those who would argue that any substance that is potentially harmful should be banned. But if that's to be the case, we would have to ban nearly everything. Peanut butter would surely be noted as a causal factor in skin cancer if injected subcutaneously, and water is hazardous to health if one attempts to drink a glassful through the nose.
My point, and I think Schutte's, is that misapplied techniques and misleadingly interpreted results can be used to "prove" virtually any substance to be dangerous. The real mystery pointed up so well by schutte is why those involved in such research pretend to exercise objectivity to further essentially moralistic or other self-serving notions. Good drug research is desperately needed. It is imperative that those who carry it out give more consideration to meaningful paradigms and less to personal proclivities.
Terry W. Gamble, Fort Rucker, Alabama
It's surprising that anyone would interpret schutte's letter as anything but a satirical put-on and put-down of certain kinds of misleading marijuana research. But judging from the response, many people didn't find the schutte "experiment" all that farfetched--which tends to prove his point.
Obscene Health Hazards
The day of judgment is at hand, O ye assassins and tools of Lucifer! Preaching your shameless gospel of lust and perversion, you have driven the cream of American youth to wanton fornication and self-abuse. Your vicious campaign to glorify sex has swamped dermatologists' offices with cases of green palm hair and severe acne; our asylums are overrun with the criminally insane; cancer of the penis is rising.
Beware, peddlers of vile smut! We in the medical profession are not taking your sexual revolution lying down. Scientific studies are now being conducted in which beagles, trained to smoke your shredded magazines, are developing lung cancer. Concentrated solutions of your inks and dissolved papers are being injected into pregnant rats and are producing birth defects. The Surgeon General will soon possess conclusive evidence that sex is hazardous to one's health; the demise of your wicked efforts must come soon thereafter.
Timothy P. Oltersdorf, M.D., Tucson. Arizona
Virginians, Past and Present
As a Virginian who has lived in New York City for nearly two decades, I'm always jolted when the national news media cast their spotlights on my home soil. I've learned that Albemarle County, Virginia, following the Supreme Court's decisions that standards of prurience and offensiveness shall be determined separately by each community, has banned Playboy.
I confess I don't really know what pornography is. In New York, I have been able to buy publications and to see films termed hard-core, so I subjectively define it as material about sex that makes the subject dull and often repulsive. Some hard-core pornography makes me react as I would to a detailed color film of open-heart surgery.
Playboy is not in that category. In its early days it was considered daring, but, with the advent of commercially available pornography, Playboy has become primarily a magazine to read.
Albemarle is the county in which Thomas Jefferson was born, made his home and was buried--Jefferson, whose lifelong fight was against "every form of tyranny over the mind of man." I come from Albemarle County; my ancestors lived there in Jefferson's time and one of them knew him personally. This makes me especially sad that his county made national news in such a questionable way.
Charles W. Freeman, New York, New York
The spirit of Jefferson is not dead in Virginia. When the Albemarle County prosecutor asked a grand jury to set standards for obscenity, they refused to act, thereby putting an end to the flurry of local magazine banning. Another grand jury convened in the town of Buena Vista, Virginia, reviewed magazines submitted by local newsdealers--including Playboy--and concluded that none of them were obscene by contemporary community standards.
The Court And Obscenity
Some say they see a ray of hope in the Supreme Court's decisions on obscenity, in that a given community might take a liberal stance on obscenity. It's doubtful that this will happen very often, though, because the fig-leafers are better organized, especially at the grass-roots level, than the freedom-of-expression groups. There will always be some little old ladies' sewing circle or conservative church organization to exert pressure on local administrators.
Dennis Kravetz, Champaign, Illinois
Chief Justice Burger's opinions use the Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in a way that's silly and basically dishonest. Nowhere does Burger mention the fact that the majority of the commission's members, many of them qualified behavioral scientists, found no evidence of a causal connection between pornography and dangerous behavior. At the same time, he cites a dissenting report written by two know-nothing clergymen on the commission, Winfrey C. Link and Morton A. Hill, to claim that "there is at least an arguable correlation between obscene material and crime."
Galileo wouldn't have any better luck with Burger's Court than he did with the Inquisition.
William Kyle, Detroit, Michigan
The decisions on obscenity of the U. S. Supreme Court represent an expected counterreaction to the mercenary people who took undue advantage of the collapse of censorship and exploited a precarious situation with little regard for the sensibilities of the general public.
The decisions have corrected two serious weaknesses in the former legal situation. First, the assertion that even the slightest redeeming social value was a defense against an obscenity conviction has been dropped and replaced by a more rational criterion; there now must be serious value--that is, the redeeming value should be clearly evident. Second, the local definition of community standards is an improvement because: (1) there never was a single national standard, (2) it recognizes local variation in mores, (3) it has analogous precedents such as local liquor-option laws and (4) it is more truly democratic.
Nevertheless, these decisions are an infringement on individual freedom and an attempt to legislate taste. It is another example of the Government's claiming that the individual must be protected from himself, as if he were a young child or a mental incompetent. This is dangerous because it could easily lead to more repressive laws.
A large segment of the public obviously wants explicit sexual material. Such material has not been shown to cause antisocial behavior nor mental-emotional difficulties. Therefore, explicit sexual material should be legally available to those adults who want it; but there should be constraints on display and advertising of such material, so that those who find it offensive will be protected from unwanted exposure.
Paul H. Gebhard, Director, Institute for Sex Research, Inc., Bloomington, Indiana
Bugging The Buggers
In 1968, Congress passed a statute allowing Federal and state officials to tap and bug in order to obtain evidence of crimes. Almost all the experts who have analyzed the statute have found it to be too loose to be constitutional, but the Supreme Court hasn't yet ruled on it and the lower courts have upheld it. For the past five years, the Federal Government has been issuing annual statistics on court-authorized wire tapping and bugging. With financial support from the Playboy Foundation, I have been studying these reports, as well as data from other sources, to evaluate the costs and benefits of electronic eavesdropping.
There are two kinds of electronic surveillance: that done under a court order, and that authorized solely by the Attorney General, under powers said to be inherent in the Presidency. In June 1972, the Supreme Court said that this latter power did not extend to surveillance of domestic dissenters whom the Attorney General thought to be dangerous.
The statistics for the court-ordered variety of tapping and bugging are very detailed, in sharp contrast to the scarcity of information about the national-security variety. Court-authorized taps, both Federal and state, were primarily used to obtain evidence on gambling and drug traffic. Taps were not used in any homicide or espionage case and in only one kidnap case, in which the tap turned up nothing.
National-security taps are not as numerous as court-ordered surveillances, but they last longer. I estimate that national-security surveillances may overhear 500,000 to 1,500,000 conversations a year.
Study of convictions at both the Federal and state levels shows that court-authorized wire tapping rarely produces usable evidence. And most convictions are for gambling or drug trafficking, not for what one prosecutor called "real crimes." As to the value of national-security wire tapping, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark has stated that if all such surveillances were shut off, "the impact on our national security ... would be absolutely zero." The average Federal tap costs about $10,000, and that doesn't include the large expenditure of time on the part of lawyers and judges who have to prepare and process the applications.
The picture is now becoming clear: Despite a great many promises and claims, wire tapping and bugging are of almost no value. The only accomplishments have been that many millions of dollars have been spent and the privacy of countless numbers of our people has been invaded. Copies of my complete 103-page study, with supporting statistics, A Report on the Costs and Benefits of Electronic Surveillance--1972, can be purchased from the American Civil Liberties Union, 22 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016, at three dollars per copy.
Herman Schwartz, Professor of Law, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York
(On pages 74 and 75, "The Playboy Forum" presents Part II of "Sexual Behavior in the 1970s," by Morton Hunt. Letters continued on page 76.)
"The Playboy Forum" offers the opportunity for an extended dialog between readers and editors of this publication on subjects and issues related to "The Playboy Philosophy." Address all correspondence to The Playboy Forum, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611.