Michael Tierney of The Comic Book Store in Little Rock, Arkansas, who has been keeping us apprised of the fight against the new Arkansas display law, Arkansas 858 (see 'Michael Tierney of the Comic Book Store on the Arkansas Display Law), saw our coverage of the Supreme Court refusing to hear the Castillo appeal (see 'Castillo Supreme Court Appeal Denied,' 'On Probation for Selling Comics,' and 'Interview with DBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein') and sees a connection to the Arkansas situation:
I've just read about the rejection by the U. S. Supreme Court of the appeal of Jesus' Castillo's conviction for selling an adult comic to an adult. I offer my condolences to Jesus, and worry about the harbinger that this heralds.
I'm currently fighting against Arkansas Act 858 which is NOT aimed at adult books. This act is intended to raise censorship to the next level, and establish a precedent that would allow arbitrary scrutiny of every form of reading. It would make my stores into a target, and I don't even carry 'adults only' material! In making that statement, I also feel the need to clarify that I find nothing wrong with 'adults only' material when it is retailed in a responsible manner. I have made my marketing decision based not just on my community, and not just in consideration of the many churches and schools surrounding me, but in response of the treatment of other bookstores.
Back in the early Eighties I received about a dozen phone calls in a single day - all of them looking for 'adults only' books. The tone of the caller's voices just didn't sound right. This wasn't a giggling girl looking for Playgirl. These calls were way too serious. I told them all that if they wanted 'adults only' books, they should go shopping over on Asher Boulevard, an area of Little Rock that (at the time) was notorious for pornography stores featuring books, videos, and live (interactive) shows. Later that night I saw on the news about how every bookstore along Asher Boulevard was raided and (permanently) closed that day. The authorities had let their fingers do the walking when they investigated me for a possible raid.
From early on, I knew what I could and couldn't sell in my local environment. I've always kept a squeaky clean reputation. Now Act 858 is seeking to censor everything! Suddenly, no matter how clean your store is, you still might be arrested for obscenity that exists only in the head of your accuser.
There is a Little Rock bookstore that specializes in metaphysical books and Wiccan material that has recently been drawing a lot of heat from church groups. Don't you know that Act 858 would land on them like a ton of bricks. To quote Jesus Castillo; 'Sometimes the laws are ill-conceived and some people unfortunately get caught in the system.'
Lines are being drawn, and we can't fight hard enough against them.
Every retailer and publisher in America should read the current ICV2 interview with Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. This is stuff you need to know. To quote Charles: 'You've got to fight your best fight.'
This is a war. Prepare yourself. And remember: next year is an election year. Any and every retailer could become a target.