Michael Tierney of The Comic Book Store in Little Rock, Arkansas brings us up to date on the latest events related to the new Arkansas display law:
Have you ever read a quote of something you said, and then wondered what you were thinking? During the unending campaign against Arkansas' censorship law in the newly rewritten Act 858 of House Bill 1525, which was originally touted as being designed to keep 90% of literature away from children, I was quoted as saying:
'Really, the law is unrealistic.' It's a true statement, but I wasn't trying to be a poet. Reconsidering the sound of statements seems to be a theme in an article that recently ran in the Times Record of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The headline reads 'GOOD INTENTIONS? OR BAD IDEA?' The most interesting statement came from the Bill's sponsor, who has now stated that the law was 'directed at magazines like Playboy.'
BZZZTTTT! Somebody hit the error buzzer! Previously the statements were made that this law was intended to protect children from all the skin being shown on books like Cosmopolitan and Redbook in checkout isles! Plus, the sponsor's statement makes no sense -- since there is already a law regulating the sale of 'adults only' books, which places the same 'cover it up by two-thirds' restriction that Act 858 is trying to place randomly on other books.
I'm not going to say the name of the man making that statement, because I'm starting to feel (just a little bit) sorry for him. Where, in the early days of this debate people were identifying themselves as 'cosponsors' -- now there is just the 'sponsor.' As the media continues to cover this story, the other legislators who initially closed ranks in support are starting to scatter. Now newspaper reporters and television crews are being told a different story -- one of possible error. The legislators have adopted (Monty Python's) attack Plan B (of 'run away, run away') as they begin to realize that the public does not support censorship. All of the public that I've talked to has been incensed about this attempt to deny kids access to the majority of reading -- however good the initial intentions might have been.
Credit for the impact of public opinion goes to the media who brought the spotlight onto this ill-conceived law. The article in the Times Record might never have been written if not for the coverage of ICV2, which is sighted as a principal source of information. Good work by Tom Flinn and Milton Griepp!
I've had customers whom I haven't seen since they were kids, now coming back into the stores after seeing this debate on either the internet or the local news. Some have just walked around the store, positively nodding their heads like their chin is spring-loaded. They all offer encouragement in the fight for rights. Just now, one long-time customer commented negatively about 'the state of the State,' and shook his head in response to this law.
When it comes to Arkansas Act 858, I think the evidence is overwhelming that legislators are now asking themselves what they were thinking when they initially spoke up in defense of this law of random censorship.