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Legislation aims to jack soldiers' 'off time' reading materials
Nick Langewis
Published: Saturday April 26, 2008

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"Pro-family" organizations and members of Congress are continuing the push to limit the range of reading materials available to members of the military.

House Rep. Paul Broun (GA-10), with 15 co-sponsors and the support of organizations such as the Alliance Defense Fund and the American Family Association, recently introduced a bill that would strengthen the ban on sales of adult-themed publications on U.S. military installations.

While the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 bans the sale of "sexually explicit material" on property under Department of Defense jurisdiction, the Pentagon doesn't consider certain items explicit enough to take off of base store shelves; a certain percentage of a film or magazine's content would have to be considered "sexually explicit" for sale or rental to be barred.

Rep. Broun has introduced H.R. 5821, also known as the Military Honor and Decency Act, which would close what he calls a loophole that allows the continued distribution of pornography to soldiers, to their moral detriment, with the help of taxpayer funds.

"As a Marine, I am deeply concerned for the welfare of our troops and their mission," Broun said on April 17. "Allowing the sale of pornography on military bases has harmed military men and women by: escalating the number of violent, sexual crimes; feeding a base addiction; eroding the family as the primary building block of society; and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad. Our troops should not see their honor sullied so that the moguls behind magazines like Playboy and Penthouse can profit. The ‘Military Honor and Decency Act’ will right a bureaucratic--and moral--wrong."

"We're asking these people to risk their lives to defend our Constitution's principles," said law school professor and ACLU head Nadine Strossen to USA Today last November, "and they're being denied their own First Amendment rights to choose what they read."

"Let me get this straight," The Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen added. "U.S. troops are fighting two wars, neither of which are going well, and the American Family Association’s biggest concern is what kind of magazines the troops can purchase on base?

"Here’s a radical idea: maybe those who wear the uniform and put their lives on the line for their country should be able to read whatever they want."

The text of H.R. 5821, introduced on April 16, can be viewed at this link.