Playboy and a Moral Quandary
For Advocates for Life, Feb 1996
Appearing before the grand jury on 26 September, I complied with the subpoenaed command to bring “any and all documents referring to” that rare and sought-after piece of literature which the feds call “The Army of God Manual.” As reported previously in this column (November), I eagerly presented the winter 1994 edition of Capital Area Christian News to the jury which featured an inspiring review of the sought-after “manual.” (I trust this was the book to which the feds were referring, for I am not yet clairvoyant enough to know all their thoughts and desires. The actual title of the book which we reviewed is, When it Hurts, Call the Army of God.) As an aspiring author partially motivated by wanton ambition, I was thrilled about the attention I had received from important people in Washington. I needed to float some of my pieces out there for someone to notice. Maybe a speech-writing job was in the offing.
But I needed to take stock of myself and avoid letting it go to my head. I entered into a time of personal reflection to check the secret desires of my heart. This brings us to the moral dilemma which has been tormenting me. After complying with the command to bring to the jury my library, underwear, every letter ever written to me, and a platter for my head, I remembered one more thing. That June issue of Playboy. (See Summer, 1995 issue of CACN.) It has a special feature on pages 50, 51 with the byline: “How Pro-life Extremists are Turning America into a Killing Field.” And in those two pages there are pictures of the covers of two Life Advocate issues; a flier advertising my book, A Time to Kill; a cartoon from the abortionist joke book, Bottom Feeder; and a few excerpts from “The Army of God Manual.”
Now, let me explain something here. I was informed of this article by a person, whose name shall remain a secret, who told me that there was some interesting coverage of the JH apologists in that particular Playboy issue. So I covertly borrowed the issue from a county policeman neighbor. Now, the way I found out that he was a subscriber was that I saw the sordid publication one day while we were in his house talking about diverting guns from Bosnia and taking over the state of Maryland. Anyway, I observed that the article was satisfactory and carefully copied down the address of the publisher, Playboy Enterprises Inc. Then, I wrote said publisher and requested a free copy of the issue, noting that I was featured, so to speak, in the issue and promising to reference the source in an upcoming edition of CACN. [Special notice to the reader. Parts of this paragraph have been fictionalized to protect me and policeman.]
What to do. Alas, failing to bring in the Playboy with its reference to “the manual,” I was impaled upon not two but three horns of a dilemma! And did it hurt! 1) If I reveal to the grand jury that I have a Playboy in my possession, I risk my good name. 2) If I don’t disclose my Playboy, I may be charged with “contempt of court.” 3) If I reveal my Playboy and sacrifice my good name, I may suborn the morals of the prosecutors and the good citizens on the jury.
Well, I had to do the right thing, of course. And sometimes it is painful. I decided to protect the prosecutors and jurors from that unseemly publication, though it may cost me my freedom. I am resolved not to surrender my Playboy. However, I do not wish to be close-minded about this issue. It is crucial that our movement maintains a good reputation, obey the laws, AND keep from being a stumbling block to our prosecutors. But it seems that there is just no way to do all three of these things at once. If the law is obeyed the reputation suffers and morals are suborned. It seems most economical to preserve both morals and reputation at the expense of obedience: two out of three. Nevertheless, the dilemma is a stressful one. Therefore, at this juncture, I would like to solicit the counsel of the Life Advocate readership.
I want to assure you folks that in arriving at this preliminary decision I consulted numerous wise men; counselors; youth leaders; TV, radio, and big-ministry preachers acquainted with sexual temptations. The counsel was as numerous and variegated as a flock of preachers at a prophecy conference. Some thought that the prosecutors were “given over” beyond corruptibility so that a little pornography could do them no harm. Others allowed this possibility, but contended that the jury was not necessarily as depraved and therefore needed to be shielded.
The counsel of our brethren is very important. And we want to take advantage of the wisdom of you folks out there. If you don’t mind risking a conspiracy charge or would otherwise like to join in the fellowship of defendants, please offer your advice in case there is a way to get me off these horns.