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Defense

The U.S. Military Doesn't Want Your Porn, SpongeBob, or New York Review of Books

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service will stop carrying 891 periodicals at its stores.

(AP Photo/Nickelodeon)

photo of Matt  Berman
August 1, 2013

Sorry, smut and animated sponge fans serving in the United States military: Your selection of reading material is about to be seriously culled.

This week, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service announced that it is permanently eliminating 891 publications from its stores. Those publications include The Saturday Evening Post, SpongeBob Comics, Home Buyer's Guide, The New York Review of Books, and 48 pornographic magazines. Yes, that means it'll be a little bit more difficult for members of the U.S. military to get their hands on Playboy, American Curves, and Penthouse.

The decision to pull these publications comes on the heels of a Morality in Media campaign to strip pornographic magazines from AAFES stores to "help curb the plague of sexual assaults that afflict the U.S. military," reports Kellie Lunney in Government Executive. In late July, the Pentagon informed Morality in Media that the magazines were simply "adult sophisticate material," meaning that the stores were allowed to sell them. 

 

The Pentagon and AAFES officials maintain that the decision had nothing to do with the Morality in Media campaign. In a statement, the AAFES public affairs chief said it was "a business decision driven by the time, money, and energy required to facilitate buying habits, combined with decreasing demand." 

If anything, the decision seems to be one more tale in the saga of print's decline. AAFES officials say sales of all magazines fell 18.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. Sales of "adult sophisticate titles" have declined 86 percent since 1998, along with other magazine sales. The statement, of course, blames the rise and expansion of digital magazines, and "exchange shoppers' increased reliance on digital devices to access content virtually."

While the print version of the New York Review of Books may be a beautiful thing, members of the military, like increasing numbers of civilians, seem to prefer to read it in pixels—or maybe not at all.

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