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Throwing the book at 'em

"Throwing the book at 'em" Continued...

Issue: "Ashcroft 2000?," Oct. 11, 1997

Richard Williams, the Nashville musician (his band, Obadiah, puts "hell-fire preaching ... to music"), heard about the book rippings on Mr. Terry's radio program. Mr. Williams, 27, and his wife, Jan, parents of two children, went with a friend to a Nashville Barnes & Noble, where they ripped up a Sturges book. Barnes & Noble managers summoned police but didn't press charges or ask them to pay for the book.

The next week, members of the Christian motorcycle club Heaven's Saints in Dixon rode to Nashville and protested, actually turning some patrons away. "They try to pass this stuff off as art and it ain't," says James Carpenter, 57, one member of the club who isn't tattooed. Some, however, look like bikers, and that was an intimidating sight greeting customers at the front door of Barnes & Noble. "We just told them they were selling child pornography," he says. "Some turned and left and said they wouldn't frequent the place. Some turned their heads and went on in."

In St. Louis, Mr. Abell, father of four children ranging in age from 1 to nearly 7, is organizing events leading up to the Oct. 24-25 protest. "This really isn't about Barnes & Noble," he says. "This is about the material."

Mr. Sears, whose observations set this protest in motion several months ago, finds it appalling that book merchants sell the books, regardless of their legal status. "I know they can take the stand that the First Amendment says we can sell a lot of things," he says. "Well, I assume the First Amendment would protect them if they wanted to sell Nazi rape and torture films from Dachau, but do we want to sell those? Is that in the best interest of the community?"

Booksellers who market pornography, he says, "wrap the flag around themselves, and hold up the First Amendment so they can continue to make profits off of the lives and bodies of others."

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