The Army & Air Force Exchange Service decided Wednesday to end the sale of “adult sophisticate” magazines, a category that includes pornographic periodicals such as Playboy and Penthouse.
Hubbub over pornography at military installations arose in June when anti-pornography group Morality in Media formally asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to ban the sale of pornography on military bases in accordance with Section 2495b of title 10 in the United States code, which expressly prohibits the sale of sexually explicit materials on any Department of Defense property.
“It is a great victory that the Army and Air Force exchanges will finally stop selling sexually exploitive magazines,” Morality in Media executive director Dawn Hawkins said Wednesday via press release. “Hopefully the other branches will follow suit or Secretary Hagel will order their removal from all bases.”
Despite Morality in Media’s claim of victory, the Army & Air Force Exchange worked overtime Wednesday to spin its new policy as a strategic business move that had nothing to do with mounting pressure from groups like Morality in Media. Army & Air Force Exchange spokesman Chris Ward told the Wall Street Journal, “This was purely a business decision on our part.” And in an interview with USA Today, Ward said, “In this digital age, magazine readership and buyer-ship is declining. So it's just a chance for us to re-evaluate our stock assortment, find out which ones are selling, which ones are not.”
Wednesday’s decision to excise pornography from Army and Air Force bases comes only one week after the Department of Defense sent a reply letter to Morality in Media. In that correspondence, Assistant Defense Secretary F.E. Vollrath asserted the sale of Playboy and Penthouse is wholly permissible on military installations because the magazines are “not sexually explicit under the definition of section 2495b.”