The Combat Zone
I enjoyed the January feature "Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Sexual Environment." I thought you might like to see the table of contents to Dave Marsh's new book, 50 Ways to Fight Censorship:
The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do
1. Speak out!
Things You Can Do By Yourself
2. Register and vote!
3. Send your Senators and Congresspersons letters or Mailgrams.
4. Teach your children how to know when censorship appears in the classroom or elsewhere.
5. Oppose de facto censorship of the news media by the wealthy and powerful.
6. Get involved with your library.
7. Make art that fights censorship.
8. Speak out about freedom of speech at schools, churches and to youth groups in your town.
9. Write a letter to your local paper in defense of free speech.
10. Call your radio-station talk show.
11. Support those retailers who fight against censorship.
12. Read everything you can get your hands on about censorship and First Amendment issues. Read banned books.
13. Gather information and news clippings on censorship and send them to a central clearinghouse.
14. Buy banned records.
15. Write and perform songs about free speech and the perils of censorship.
16. Write to movie moguls and tell them to eliminate the M.P.A.A. ratings code.
17. Watch The Simpsons and other controversial TV programs.
18. Contact your local cable outlet to find out if it's being pressured to censor its programing.
19. Join the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.).
20. Join the Freedom to Read Foundation.
21. Stop the attack on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
22. Join Article 19, a human-rights group working to identify and oppose censorship around the world.
23. Support the American Booksellers Association Foundation for Free Expression.
24. Get to know the censorship groups. Study their literature and expose them to public scrutiny.
25. Investigate the tax-exempt status of procensorship lobbying groups.
26. Find out your state's requirements for purchasing textbooks.
27. Run for office--city council, school board, state representative, Congress--on a platform supporting freedom of expression.
28. Write to your favorite artists; find out what they're doing to help preserve freedom of expression.
29. Make an anticensorship home video showing the various benefits of free speech in your community--and the perils of censorship.
30. Write about your positive experiences with art.
Things You Can Do With Others
31. Become a voter registrar. Organize a voter-registration drive.
32. Form a group that establishes a First Amendment litmus test for politicians.
33. Start an anticensorship petition campaign.
34. Boycott products made and marketed by companies that fund the censors.
35. Start a grass-roots anticensorship organization.
36. Start an anticensorship newsletter.
37. Contact local arts and educational organizations; persuade them to stage a free-speech event (you'll help organize it, of course).
38. Set a good example by starting a parents group to combat censorship.
39. Contact local TV stations and propose a "Censored Films Festival."
40. Use community-access cable or community radio to raise awareness of free-speech issues.
41. Stage a mock trial on censorship.
42. Sue the bastards!
43. Create a public-service announcement to be aired over the radio.
44. Make sure local schools have a course on freedom of speech.
45. Contact others concerned about censorship--use the classifieds!
46. Talk with teachers about what they're doing to ensure free speech.
47. Picket the censors.
48. Have a moment of silence to keep speech free.
49. Have a Speak Out Day.
50. Make the real obscenities the real issues.
You can order 50 Ways to Fight Censorship, by Dave Marsh ($5.95 paperback), from Thunder's Mouth Press, 54 Greene Street, suite 4S, New York, New York 10013, 212-226-0277.
Michael Carter, New Rochelle, New York
I've just mailed a special contribution to the A.C.L.U. for the defense of Elaine Ott, arrested in Miramar, Florida, for the "crime" of selling your magazine to two 16-year-old boys. I've been a longtime subscriber and I never kept Playboy out of reach of my kids. They have all turned out to be great, well-adjusted adults.
Graham E. Mathes, Seattle, Washington
Another One Bites The Dust
Another thriving American megacorp has been rendered gutless by Donald E. Wildmon.
Blockbuster Video, buckling to the intimidation tactics of the fundamentalist right, has pulled all NC-17 films from its shelves.
I view this as a particular affront in light of the fact that Blockbuster presented itself to the American public as a one-stop solution to our every video desire. Neighborhood video stores closed, one after the other, as Blockbuster began servicing entire communities. Now that it has our money and attention, it has decided to deliver a moral KO by telling us what is and is not acceptable viewing.
Since the bureaucrats who run the company operate not according to principle but according to the bottom line, I have stooped to their level long enough to cut and return my Blockbuster membership card.
Blockbuster? "Ballsbusted" seems more appropriate.
Kerry Simpson, San Francisco, California
The Good Book
Forum readers should beware the subversive influences lurking in the pages of Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition). According to West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, our common culture is being poisoned by the kind of objective detachment that allows inclusion of "four-letter" words in a standard reference book. Byrd accuses Webster's editors of "cultural cowardice" for not taking it upon themselves to censor the English language and compares our current language tolerance to that following the fall of the Roman Empire. With friends like Byrd, who needs Republicans?
Jerry Minor, Cedar City, Utah
And we were happy to have a few more options for the Scrabble board. A recent study by Indiana University found that 61 percent of the editors surveyed would permit the use of expletives under various circumstances. Five years ago, 92.6 percent would have no part of four-letter words. This is an impressive increase suggesting a healthy sentiment that language standards meet societal changes.
As for Byrd's mealymouthed reference to the responsibility of the "Webster's" lexicographers, the editors got it right in the text's foreword, which states, "It is not [our] mandate to pass editorial judgment but only to describe ... the language as it exists." Why include expletives, Senator Byrd? Because they are a very real part of our existence, you pompous bumwipe.
If the sexual revolution had a flag, it would look like this. Benetton unfurled this colorful condom ad in February with predictable results. Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle and Self refused to run it. Newsday, Adweek and Advertising Age provided free coverage (as did your humble editor of The Playboy Forum). These people are not dumb.