Forty years ago, toward the end of August, the Madera City Council took up the issue of “girlie” magazines at the behest of Councilman John Wells. He brought the subject up in a report that several mothers had complained to him that their children were running to the magazine racks and reading the “girlie” magazines just as soon as they entered a store. When Wells asked city attorney Axel Christiansen for an opinion, considerable discussion ensued.
Wells pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that each community had the right to decide what was obscene material in their own towns. Christiansen agreed and informed the council that it could adopt an obscenity law and then enforce it to the hilt. The attorney added, however, that the law would no doubt be tested and then the community standards would be defined by what came out of the court case. The city would then have to live with those standards, Christiansen maintained.
In the end, the council decided to ask parents who complained to do their own policing and keep their kids away from objectionable material.
That was all right with Wells; he had done his duty, after all, he hadn’t come to the City Council just to crusade against “girlie” magazines. Politics were part of his DNA, and he had other fish to fry...