Censors cry foul

Raechel Fittante, Editorial Director
Raechel Fittante, Editorial Director

Just when we thought the First Amendment was protected in the Inland Valley, we were wrong again.

On Dec. 3, 1995, the Friends of the Library Bookstore, a fundraising agency of the Rancho Cucamonga Library, held an auction in which a collection of 238 Playboy magazines dating from December 1968 to December 1989 were sold for a profit of $235.

To the dismay and outrage of two parents, the popular men’s magazines were put on public display inside a glass case in the library, with only the covers showing. These two offended parents, Jacqueline Bolda and Tony Villegas, both Rancho Cucamonga residents, took the issue to the extreme with a petition and a fundraising drive to rally their cause that “pornography should not be available at the library.”

Last Thursday, a meeting of the library’s board of trustees voted unanimously that they would not set a formal policy banning the sale or display of Playboy, but they agreed that the bookstore would never again carry Playboy, Penthouse or other similar magazines.

However, that was not good enough for Bolda, who presented the board with a check for $235 collected in donations by her supporters, but refused to submit a petition of ascertained signatures, claiming the holiday season hampered her ability to get enough signatures.

Ironically enough, two of the signatures miraculously acquired by Bolda were none other than those of Dennis Stout, the district attorney of San Bernardino County, and Linda Wilde, who is presently running for Congress in California.

It seems strange that these two representatives are at the extreme right end of Republican politics and are behind such moronic censorship issues in this day and age, especially Stout, the D.A. who refused to prosecute Larry Rhinehart, former mayor of Montclair, for soliciting prostitution to an undercover police officer back in 1995. Stout did not see the need to prosecute Rhinehart, yet found the time to involve himself in the protest that has ended up with the assurance that the Rancho Cucamonga library doesn’t offer Playboy for adults. These kinds of idiotic tactics for publicity by would- be politicians are indicative of exactly the kinds of idiotic politicians we elect into office, anti- censorship, paranoid citizens who only go through the motions of pretending to be in favor of free speech on national levels.

The dominating factor in the library incident is that the magazines, regardless of whether they were Playboy or not, were enclosed in a glass case within the public library itself. It is not an issue of children being exposed to Playboy because they were not accessible to anyone. Why is the health of the children the popular target for censorship issues? The result of this pro-censorship argument would be to reduce the level of intellectual discourse to that of children. Only adults have the choice to read them in the first place, even in a public library.

There are probably more racy magazine covers on the outside of today’s Cosmopolitan and Vogue, than the former covers of Playboy. Nobody is outlawing those magazines, and they can be read in checkout stands across the country, not just displayed in the library.

Yet, Bolda, who was the first president of the library’s board, is intent on continuing her efforts to get the library’s agreement to ban Playboy in writing.

This stroke of censorship is a tribute to how much pressure a consensus of two people can wield over a library patronized by thousands every day.

Library manager Deborah Clark told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, “My sadness comes from my belief that with these kinds of censorship issues, there’s never a win-win situation.”

But some feel that the winners are the individuals who blew up the entire episode into something absurd, and the losers will have to repair the damage in the years to come as the fight against censorship rages on.

Congratulations, Jackie, on a job well done.

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