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A couple of people have written to you about the “adult nature” of some of the ads in the City Paper (The Mail, 6/7 & 6/14). One of them threatened to not advertise in your magazine anymore since you carry these ads. Both of them expressed concern over the fact that children are exposed to these ads. Their letters implied, even if wasn’t explicitly stated, that Washington City Paper should not carry these advertisements, or restrict its distribution, in order to “protect the children.” Steve Majors writes, “it’s just easy access for teens to get into trouble.”
There are a lot of things in this world that are easy access for people to get into trouble. The greater the freedom available, the greater the opportunity to get into trouble, and that’s the beauty of freedom. The ultimate responsibility, however, for these actions lies on the people who perform them. In the case of children, parents share this responsibility. City Paper is under no obligation to make parenting an easy job by making its content “clean,” nor should it, for it would be acquiescing to a part of the population that seeks to impose morality. And as long as City Paper continues its uninhibited style of publication in all respects, I will continue to firmly support it.
I further question the utility of shielding children from everything that some adults find offensive. Children acquire a lot of information about this world. City Paper isn’t the only source for pictures of scantily clad girls. This is almost unavoidable in our current cultural climate, and I think censoring what children can see is being overprotective and destructive. Impressionable kids will come across this sort of thing one way or another, and it would be better if they were taught the right skills that would let them judge for themselves what they were seeing. Censoring/controlling what they read will simply hamper the development of such skills, and in some cases might lead exactly to the opposite of the intended effect.
via the Internet