City council votes on racy magazines


    By James Martin

    The Provo City Council will vote next week on a proposition that would encourage business owners to cover up racy magazine covers.

    The resolution, which focuses on protecting children from inadvertent obscenity, is not legally binding in any way, nor does it force business owners to do anything. However, it does educate and provide a clear definition of what the community wants the obscenity standards to be.

    JoAnn Hamilton, president of Citizens for Families, said the resolution is not out to trample on anyone”s First Amendment rights.

    “Education is the name of the game,” Hamilton said. “The resolution is not a hammer.”

    Hamilton has been president of Citizens for Families for six years. Thus far in her term, the organization has helped more than 20 other Utah cities pass Childhood Appropriate Standards resolutions.

    “Most of the 21 cities passed the resolution without any dissenting votes whatsoever,” Hamilton said. “That seemed to be the case as long as there were not misunderstandings about what the proposition was.”

    According to an article in The Salt Lake Tribune, Provo Mayor Lewis Billings said the city was careful in the way the resolution was crafted so as to have a positive vibe.

    In practical application, the resolution would be the first step in establishing definable community standards. This could be very important down the road, Hamilton pointed out, if there is a legal obscenity case in Provo.

    Obscenity, which is illegal, is dependent on community standards. Something cannot be proven obscene, and thus no legal action can be taken, if there are no set community standards in place.

    “The resolution is a first step in establishing those community standards,” Hamilton said, but it has no “legal teeth” in and of itself.

    With the Child Appropriate Standards resolution in place, a concerned community member could cite the resolution to a business owner as evidence of standards the community has chosen. The decision to censor the questionable material would still be left up to the business owner, however.

    City Council member Cindy Clark will be voting on the proposition in the next council meeting.

    “I don”t think it will have any problem at all passing,” she said.

    Clark compared the covering of explicit images in store aisles to keeping the cigarettes for sale behind the counter.

    “You can still see the title of the magazine and it is still available, but it”s not out there in your face,” she said.

    Hamilton said the resolution is all about protecting our children.

    “I”ve talked to hundreds of sexual addicts, and when I ask how their addiction started, they usually say it started with a magazine,” Hamilton said. “The city council can either do nothing, or they can pass a resolution saying we would like to have a community where children can come and go freely and not be exposed to sexually explicitly images.”

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