I am a third-year student at Harvard Law School. Occasionally, I enjoy reading a Playboy Interview whenever work and classes permit. A few days ago, I had such a rare break and went looking for the current issue at the Harvard Coop. I discovered that it does not carry Playboy. The store does carry magazines with male nudity.
I wouldn't take the time to write this letter if I did not feel that the bookstore was offending the First Amendment for the sake of Harvard's whining liberals. What's your opinion?
Steve Thaler, Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Harvard Coop, despite its name, is a private business that is free to decide which publications it will carry. Fortunately, there is an easy way to deal with this sort of priggishness: Subscribe.
Who Changed Sex?
I was reading James R. Petersen's Forum article "Who Changed Sex?" (December) and was surprised by a glaring omission from the list. Well, maybe not an omission---the notable I am concerned with received a nod for "runner-up"---but Petersen didn't feel the need to name the man who invented the water bed, science fiction author Robert Heinlein. In his writings, Heinlein has long treated sex as it should be: as a session of pleasurable exercise between two or more consenting individuals. In Heinlein's view, skin is nothing more than skin. For anyone not familiar with Heinlein, such classics as Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love and I Will Fear No Evil illustrate my point. Most Heinlein fans, Petersen included, will agree that the author struck a major blow against sexual conservatives.
I fear that time may have passed Heinlein by, and many younger readers may not be familiar with his work. But this makes it all the more important that he be mentioned in Playboy's retrospective. Amateur sexual historians interested in learning where Heinlein got his wild idea are advised to check out his books Waldo and Magic, Inc. and Expanded Universe.
Chris Jackson, Fort Collins, Colorado
While Heinlein did indeed describe a water bed in his 1961 classic "Stranger in a Strange Land," credit for inventing the modern water bed generally goes to Charles Hall, who designed one as a class project at San Francisco State University in 1969. But we'll give you credit for calling attention to a man who certainly influenced sex in this century: In addition to the water bed, Heinlein envisioned sex changes and universal free love and predicted that the country would be swept up by Christian fundamentalists with elaborate propaganda networks.
"The General's Loophole" by Peter McWilliams (The Playboy Forum, December) left out one important detail about Marinol: the cost. At my local Wal-Mart, Marinol retails for $202.92 for 30 five-milligram doses. Compared with the street pharmacist's cost of around $40 per quarter ounce of the natural stuff (or so I've been told) the price seems outrageous.
Drug czar Barry McCaffrey may have once again shot himself in the foot, but the low-income people and those without health insurance got it right between the eyes. Sadly, that's become a familiar refrain in the drug war.
Nathan Woodhull III, Lima, Ohio
Cost of Rights
In James Bovard's "The Cost of Rights" (The Playboy Forum, October), he states that "James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights." I have been under the impression that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Bill of Rights. While this doesn't in any way detract from Bovard's excellent examination of what our government has become, I am nonetheless curious about the Bill of Rights' true author. Was Bovard mistaken?
Bill Flanagan, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Although many voices called for a declaration of individual rights, James Madison drafted and saw through Congress what became the Bill of Rights (Jefferson was in Paris). Madison, originally a Federalist who believed that the constitutional government would never encroach on individual rights, came to see the wisdom of safeguards.
In the three years since you published James Bovard's article "Prison Sentences of the Politically Connected" (The Playboy Forum, April 1997), I've seen several updates from Playboy readers in your letters pages. Please add this to your list: Last July, Morgan Grams, the 21-year-old son of Republican Senator Rod Grams of Minnesota, was pulled over by Anoka County police at the behest of his father. The elder Grams had received a phone call from an acquaintance of his son who reported that Morgan had borrowed a rental SUV and refused to return it. When the police located Grams, they found ten bags of marijuana and several cans of beer in the truck, along with two juvenile passengers. They didn't arrest Grams, who had showed them an expired U.S. Senate staff pass card, even though one of the bags was discovered beneath his seat and he was on probation at the time for underage drinking and driving. Police instead arrested a 17-year-old passenger who was later convicted of drug possession and served more than a month in a juvenile detention center. As for Grams, officers put him in the front seat of an unmarked police car and gave him a lift back to his motel. He was not charged with a crime.
Perhaps the continuing coverage (by Playboy and others) of this type of shameless favoritism is beginning to have an effect. After these incidents were documented in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Anoka County Sheriff's office asked for a special investigation to determine whether or not Morgan Grams received favorable treatment from police when he was pulled over.
Bob Thomas, Minneapolis, Minnesota
After a review, the special investigation concluded that Anoka County deputies did not follow proper procedure when they stopped Morgan Grams. (They did not file a report on the incident until November, following the coverage by the Star Tribune.) However, the investigator found no evidence that the elder Grams had requested favorable treatment for his son. In December county officials decided to charge Grams with possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle and driving without his license, both misdemeanors.
For the Record
"I am an American citizen, and I can fuck my girlfriend anywhere I want to."
---The explanation given by a 27-year-old Wisconsin man who police allege had sex with his girlfriend on the sidewalk outside a Madison bar as onlookers threw money at the couple.
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