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DoD Bans Sexually Explicit Pubs, Video

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 1998 – DoD will remove 153 periodicals and one video from installation stores for being sexually explicit, officials said Sept. 23.

The recently appointed eight-member DoD Resale Activities Board of Review banned the publications under the Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996. Congress passed the act to prohibit the sale or rental of sexually explicit material on property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense.

"The board reviewed materials offered or to be offered for sale or rental in at least one military retail outlet," said Army Lt. Col. Tom Begines, a DoD spokesman. "153 'adult sophisticate' periodicals were determined to be sexually explicit within the meaning of the act." The board determined 14 other submitted periodicals were not sexually explicit. One videotape, Playboy's Story of X, was banned, however, no DoD stores carry videos rated X or NC-17.

The board, chaired by DoD Accession Policy Director Steve Sellman, will remain in being and convene as often as necessary to fulfill its duties, Begines said. Its rulings were based on a congressionally supplied definition of "sexually explicit material," which is "material, the dominant theme of which is the depiction or description of nudity, including sexual or excretory activities or organs in a lascivious way."

Pentagon officials said the act bans sales in the exchange systems, commissaries and in Navy ship stores. "The law does not address, and we cannot control, sales on property that is not under DoD jurisdiction," Begines said.

The DoD board of review began meeting Aug. 13 and determined bans by a simple majority vote. Procedures allowed any member to request reconsideration at any time during the same session. Decisions that still stood at the end of a session were final, Begines said.

"Penthouse" magazine publisher Bob Guccione challenged the act in 1996. In June, the Supreme Court upheld the act by refusing to review a lower court ruling. In July, Frank Rush, acting assistant secretary of defense for force management, signed the DoD instruction implementing the law.

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