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Jewish World Review August 24, 2001 / 5 Elul 5761

Dayle A. Shockley

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Consumer Reports

Mad and doing something about it! -- I TURNED the corner at my local Kroger store a while back and came face to face with a topless woman on the cover of a men's magazine. Her hands were in strategic places, but a lot of good it did. The cover lines read like an X-rated movie.

I took the magazine to the service counter. "I am offended by this magazine," I told the clerk. "It exploits women and promotes pornography. I hardly think a grocery store should be a place where we have to shield our children's eyes. Is a manager here?"

She rang upstairs and relayed my message. After a brief pause, the manager promised to pull the magazine from the shelf. I said thank you, finished shopping and left.

Two weeks later, the magazine was back. I went home and wrote a letter to the store manager and sent a copy to Bob Zincke, president of Kroger's.

The reply came soon enough. Gary Huddleston, consumer affairs manager, wrote to say that while Kroger doesn't "condone pornography," it recognizes that many customers buy magazines. "We do not want to be placed in the position of censoring all magazines," he wrote.

I found Kroger's response to be blase at best. The last time I checked, store owners decide what magazines they wish to sell. Apparently, Kroger selected this one with no arm twisting from anyone.

In Kroger's defense, it isn't the only grocery store that stocks such publications. And while it has the right to sell them, I had hoped that, with all of the immorality and decay that have settled into the fabric of our society, grocery stores would remain innocuous.

Regrettably, there are few places that families can go these days without finding something vulgar and offensive. That is because vulgarity sells.

I haven't seen it, but JWR columnist Greg Crosby recently wrote about a commercial from the Pilot Pen Corp. in which two businessmen are seated next to each other on a commuter train. The first image shows one man staring down at his lap, but the viewer can't see his lap. The other man glances down, and his eyes widen in wonder. "Wow!" he says. "That is some instrument you're holding!" At that point, the first guy looks over and cagily says, "Yeah. You wanna hold it?" That brings an elated response from the onlooker. "Oh, yes! Yes, I do!"

The viewer still remains in the dark, but the sexual implication is disgustingly plain. Finally, the first man holds up a Pilot pen, and the viewer hears a few words about the writing instrument.

When I read about the commercial, I was furious. That is why I dashed off a letter to Ronald Shaw, president and chief executive officer of Pilot Pen in Trumbull, Conn., telling him just how angry I am and that I won't be buying another Pilot pen unless he pulls the commercial.

We can moan about the immorality peddled to our families until the cows come home. But until we get up off our behinds and do something about it, nothing will change.

Perhaps you believe that your letter, phone call or boycott won't do any good. Think again, dear reader. Think again.

When the Jenny Craig weight-loss company presented Monica Lewinsky as a testimonial client, the indignant rose up, wanting to know why a wholesome company chose to spotlight a young woman who had an adulterous affair inside the Oval Office. Although Jenny Craig stuck by its decision, its earnings plummeted until Ms. Lewinsky's day in the sun ended.

If you care about where this country is headed, it is time to rise from the sofa and become an activist. We are the only ones who can stop our nation from sinking lower into the pit of smut and sleaze. If we sit back and do nothing, we are as guilty as those who concoct the garbage we claim to detest. There is a Bible verse that says: "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." I say, Amen!

Consider this a call to arms. One person may not get a lot of attention, but there is great power in numbers. When corporations start losing at the cash register, they will listen to what consumers are saying.

JWR contributing columnist Dayle Allen Shockley is a Texas-based author. To comment on this column, please click here.

08/10/01: My daughter was not aborted
07/30/01: The surrendered parent
07/06/01: Beauty can be a disguise


© 2001, Dayle Allen Shockley