In the September 1981 issue's "Forum Newsfront," a judge in New York decided to let off some guy whose dog crapped in the wrong place and who thereafter gave an arresting officer a bad time. The judge's reasoning was, essentially, that some little dog-walking wimp probably ought not to be sent to the New York State prison where he would be instantly raped or killed or both. Because the defendant was white, that judge got jumped on as a racist, because the implication was that a young white boy wouldn't last long in a prison populated mostly by blacks. The judge himself was black, if I recall.
If that is not an example of racial equality gone out the window, I don't know what is. That judge was simply being realistic. How stupid and even insane it is to pretend otherwise. The fact that blacks commit more crimes and more often end up in prison for lack of good lawyers is a simple fact of life. It's not a matter of genes or race or anything else. There simply are more poor and violent and criminal black people because of economic class differences; A race prejudice contributes to the problems of the black community but does not alter the basic current crime statistics. One interesting fact about black criminality that white people often ignore is that most crime by blacks is against blacks, who also receive the least police protection.
Where racism occurs, it's the inability of white law-enforcement personnel to distinguish between the black population that is desperately trying to live honest and productive lives and the black assholes who prey on their own people because they are convenient targets and because the black criminal knows that white cops don't really give a damn what happens to the "niggers" in their own neighborhoods.
Jim Haber, Los Angeles, California
An Illinois circuit judge got himself in a similar bind by admonishing a defendant to get his act together because "the facts of life are you're a slight white male. And the prisons are full of big black people." That may be a fact, as you say. And, as you also imply, the problem with law enforcement may be the unwillingness or inability of frustrated cops to concern themselves with crime when it occurs in a black community. Most cops aren't trigger-happy killers. Most blacks aren't cop-hating criminals. But we've seen no community leadership in any city attempting to get the "good guys" allied together against the "bad guys," regardles of race.
Playboy is one of the few magazines readily available to those of us Americans in foreign medical schools. And since very few other magazines, to my mind, steer such a clear and enlightened editorial course, Playboy is doubly appreciated. After hearing about all the craziness back in the States, it's nice to know that you people are still carrying on the fight for intelligent laws, civil rights and sanity in general.
Douglas S. Arneson, San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
My boyfriend and I both have a sense of humor---fortunately---and enjoy teasing each other and occasionally playing practial jokes. He works at it a lot harder than I do, but I enjoy the attention. For my birthday last year, I received, among other things, a ridiculous "bust developer" that he'd ordered out of some magazine. Since I'm almost overly endowed, it couldn't be taken as a hint or an insult, so we both got a laugh. For his birthday, I retaliated by getting, from the hospital where I work, several of the little rubber finger gloves that doctors use for rectal examinations, bought three prophylactics in aluminum containers and did some careful repackaging with a razor blade. Since he's quite well hung, those finger-size rubbers also went over well. Last Christmas, he naturally had to retaliate. In an antique shop, he found what must be the granddaddy of all vibrators---a bomb-shaped metal job about three inches in diameter that resembles a Forties vacuum cleaner. I laughed, but I haven't decided whether that's funny or not, and I'm trying very hard to think up an appropriate revenge. If your readers have any truly brilliant ideas, I need to find them out before next October. I think I'm behind in the contest.
(Name withheld by request) Taos, New Mexico
We in the nation's capital have witnessed one of the great preversions of everyone's right to perversity, in the form of a Moral Majority onslaught against the lawmaking powers of the one city in the land still not entitled to write ordinances without interference from constituent-minded Congressmen from the hinterlands.
The District of Columbia was simply and belatedly rewriting its sex code. But because that opens discussion of such old taboos as sodomy and fornication and the rights of consenting adult homosexuals, it became ready fodder for the Moral Majority and its dozens of loony-fringe allies, all of whom just happen to have offices close to the Government that Reagan runs.
They had a field day. Mobilizing their pink-faced minions, they virtually ran amuck in the halls and on the switchboards of Capitol Hill, making it virtually impossible for many progressive-minded Representatives to do anything but oppose the bill when it was forced to a floor vote by the House District of Columbia Committee. Members spoke of receiving 700 calls in a single day warning them that a vote to approve the carefully drafted new District code (the city council had worked on it for several years) would spark a wave of publicity against them in their home districts.
With visions of "Supports Sodomy" and "Puts girls at mercy of teachers" headlines, they voted down the D.C. reform package---even though many have in the past supported just such reforms (I am told) in their home states. It's just that there was no Moral Majority then.
The leader of all this. of course, was the good old Reverend Mr. Falwell. This is the best microcosmic example to date of his skill in mobilizing mass demagoguery as an extension of his individual demagoguery. One shudders to think what it could do if carried to a national scale.
Peter Ross Washington, D.C.
Would you believe that our Oklahoma legislature has shelved fundamentalist efforts to require the teaching of Biblical creationism in public schools? I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but the winning argument against the proposed bill was that it would require giving equal time to Darwin!
I also don't know whether this was a clever maneuver by some enlightened Oklahoma statesman (which seems a bit unlikely) or the realization by some backwoods lawmakers that most Oklahomans probably have never heard of Darwin and should not be confused by any exposure to evolutionary theory.
Either way, this may be a good tactic for holding off efforts to cripple education with theology. Let parents raise bloody hell that teaching superstition will require their schools to give equal time to science and common sense.
Bob Fuller McAlester, Oklahoma
Right To Be Wanted
The Playboy Forum continues to take up valuable (to me, at least) space with the pros and cons of abortion. In lieu of debates on the right to life, the arguments should be about the right to be loved and wanted. Every child born needs to be wanted and loved, lest he or she in time becomes an unhappy menace to the community. A random sampling of those incarcerated in our prisons and mental institutions will reveal that most were unwanted, unloved children.
More than 1,000,000 youngsters abandon their homes and families in this country each year---or are themselves abandoned. In Third World countries, millions of children yet unborn face starvation. India, with one of the highest education rates among the group, and despite massive efforts at teaching and assistance in birth control, has a population growth of about 14,000,000 annually---equal to the population of Australia!
So, please, let us start planning ahead to give our descendants a fair chance to survive and to continue to try to held those less fortunate.
Ezekiel Barber, Ph.D. Union, New Jersey, and New Delhi, India
Right to life
The bill to define human life as beginning the moment of conception is based on the truth that a fertilized egg has the whole complement of genetic information, as does each cell of the final individual. That same genetic information is carried by a human being's danfruff. The most obvious difference is that a fertilized egg is a live cell, whereas the cells in dandruff are dead. That difference can be carried further.
Each and every individual cell of a human body just deceased retains life. Is the sum total any less dead? We must seek the answer to the question of what constitutes the difference between a dead human and a live one.
Harry A. Shamir Newton Center, Massachusetts
There seems to be a presumption that abortion is legal in this country. It may be legal as a point of law, but that doesn't mean it's legally available in any meaningful way. Ask any pregnant teenager who isn't street wise in some large city or who isn't the daughter of a prosperous family with the right connections. Thanks to the anti-abortionists, the one group of young women who are becoming pregnant and bearing children are those who are the most lacking in good sense, parental ability and economic opportunity. I find it hard to believe that those who oppose abortion, and especially welfare abortions, evidently want themselves outbred and overrun by the very same people they consider scum. There's simply no understanding people who place theological principles above social reality.
Arnold Wells Wichita Falls, Texas
I cannot bring myself to share the anti-abortionists' concern for "preborn human life." Preborn is the sort of semantic gibberish you expect from used car dealers, as in "predriven." By whatever name, what we have are used cars and gestating fetuses.
May the good Lord in His wisdom and sense of justice arrange that those unwanted fetuses, upon reaching the age of 16 or so, when they may well be living off the great welfare teat or supporting themselves through free criminal enterprise, stick their pistols in the tummies of card-carrying right-to-lifers by way of demonstrating their appreciation. And may the good Lord inspire those same underprivileged fetuses to lay the hell off people like me whose primary concern is for the welfare of society and its postpartum members who are not merely the regrettable by-product of horniness and stupidity.
(Name withheld by request) New York, New York
I would like to thank Playboy for running our advertisement urging a stop to America's handgun violence. The ad has sparked considerable interest in our organizataion's legislative program.
Handgun Control, Inc., supports common-sense legislation to make it more difficult for the criminal and the crazed to acquire handguns---the favorite tools in violence. Our organization supports the Reagan Task Force on Violent Crime's proposals to combat handgun crime. Specifically, the Task Force recommended that anyone using a handgun in a crime be given a mandatory sentence; that handgun purchasers be checked out to make sure they don't have a criminal record; that we stop the importation of Saturday-night-special parts; and that handgun owners be required to report the theft or loss of a weapon. Those recommendations were characterized by Associate Attorney General Rudolph Guiliani as "enforcing present gun laws as stringently as possible---to cut down the opportunities for convicted felons to possess handguns."
Our advertisement encouraged many Americans, including gun owners, to write to Handgun Control, Inc., giving us an opportunity to explain that we do not support the confiscation or banning of handguns. Others have written asking for copies of our poster, which are available for three dollars each from our offices in Washington.
Pete Shields, Chairman Handgun Control, Inc. 810 18th Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006
Normally, I would not write a letter to a magazine complaining about an advertisement. However, Playboy's donation of a full page to Handgun Control, Inc., amounts to a $50,000 endorscment of that organization's message and deserves some response.
Handgun Control's ad message is misleading and indicative of its peculiar view of crime in America. Handguns, strictly speaking, did not and do not kill anyone. People with handguns killed more than 10,000 Americans last year, and people with other weapons killed another 10,000. Too often, handguncontrol advocates forget that we are dealing with a problem of 20,000 murders, not merely with the fact that 10,000 of the killers chose handguns with which to commit their crimes.
It is true that a number of major nations have strict gun control and few murders. It does not follow that those controls are the cause of the low homicide rate. Crime is a function of the culture and of the people in the society. Foreign countries prove it.
Switzerland and Israel have few murders compared with the United States, yet both have among the highest rates of firearms ownership in the world. As the ad states, Japan is also blessed with a low murder rate. But is that due to its strict gun controls? A look at Taiwan, another small, crowded island nation with strict gun controls, would suggest that Japan's tranquillity has some other cause. Taiwan's murder rate is greater than that of the U.S. and many other countries.
Any discerning reader knows that nearly anything can be "proven" through the selective use of statistics. The truth is that the only thing that international comparisons prove is that crime varies by nation according to the culture, not the availability of guns.
John D. Lewis, Public Affairs Director Second Amendment Foundation Bellefield Office Park 1601 114th S.E., Suite 157 Bellevue, Washington 98004
I cannot quite understand how gun control fits into the Playboy philosophy, which has always defended the right of privacy and the rights of individuals. As long as I do no harm to a fellow human being, what right does anyone have to tell me I can't have a gun, handgun or otherwise, in my own home or place of business for the defense of myself, my family and my property? The only fellow human beings I might harm would be those who would take it upon themselves to threaten what I hold dear. Those fellow human beings I'll be most willing to put bullets through.
Tom Gallagher Chicago, Illinois
Sounds like we've put ourself right in the middle of an ideological holy war between the progunners and the antigunners. We supported the Committee to Control Handguns only because it seems to be the most sensible reform group---one that recognizes that the country has a serious violence problem in which handguns figure much too prominently, but one that does not consider the answer to be abolition or confiscation. Unfortunately, the rhetoric on both sides has made the expression gun control nearly synonymous with gun prohibition. We don't buy that simplistic solution any more than we think tougher drug laws will correct that notional problem. Consider "The Playboy Forum" now open to debate on the issue, but please---both sides---spare us statistical clichés and righteousness and suggest some solutions. Next month, we'll be publishing an article titled "The Trouble with Guns," by William J. Helmer, who examines with some dismay the irrationality that seems to characterize the extremists on both sides of the issue.
Stick 'em up
Please enjoy the enclosed sticker, which has been used to terrorize certain otherwise respectable citizens of our nation's capital. The fact is, I have never claimed respectability. In my circle of disreputable friends, this sticker plastered on my car's windshield was equivalent to a military decoration for gallantry in action. I was so proud. I parked my car in the very midst of all the pimps and hookers, just around the corner from our infamous 14th Street, in the company of my girlfriend. She is now a bona fide prostitute and would like you to return the sticker if possible.
(Name withheld by request) Alexandria, Virginia
"He found what must be the granddaddy of all vibrators...."
In December 1981, the "Forum Newsfront" reported a nationwide survey of escalating efforts to censor or ban books from public school libraries, as well as increasing timidity on the part of educators and administrators in dealing with this problem. This report, titled "Limiting What Students Shall Read." is the joint effort of the Association of American Publishers, the American Library Association and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and is the most comprehensive study of its kind. Copies are now available at five dollars each from the Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611.
"The Playboy Forum" offers the opportunity for an extended dialog between readers and editors of this publication on contemporary issues. Address all correspondence to The Playboy Forum, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611.