Naval Base Exchanges

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
8

The Naval Base Exchanges operate much the same way as the Army, Air Force, and Marine Exchanges. The individual Base Commander directly decides what, if any, sexually explicit materials will be available at his Base.[2239] The Naval Regulations generally prohibit printed or visual matter which is considered offensive.[2240] The types of magazines offered at the Navy exchanges is based on consumer demand and subject to the approval of the Commanding Officer or his representatives.[2241] Sexually explicit materials which are offered at the exchanges must be stocked and displayed so that they are not accessible to children.[2242] In addition, no "X" rated videotapes are sold or rented at the Navy exchanges.

The Commission received testimony with respect to the manner in which some military commanders have dealt with the proliferation of "adults only" pornographic outlets in the communities adjacent to their bases.[2243] In North Carolina, the commanding generals of two large military bases at Camp LeJeune and Fort Bragg declared a number of these pornographic outlets off limits to military personnel.[2244] The action of the commanding officers had the effect of closing these establishments. This result was praised by the citizens in the nearby communities.[2245] The off limits order was later challenged vigorously in the courts.[2246]

In its decision dismissing the North Carolina action, the District Court concluded that a military commander has an overriding duty to safeguard the morals, welfare and discipline of his men and that the military commander may exercise this legitimate and important responsibility to place establishments selling sexually explicit materials off limits.[2247] The order by the Chief District Judge in North Carolina upholding the Commanding General's order was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.[2248]

Notes

  1. Interview with Estelle Shenkler, Counsel, Navy Resale Services Support Office (Mar. 6, 1986).
  2. Literature and Recordings:
    1. Policy on Offensive Literature: The sale of magazines, comics, pocket-size books and other periodicals that are considered offensive is prohibited. Magazines, comics, pocket-size books and other periodicals as well as their covers will be screened by the commanding officer or his/her designated representative(s) and those that are considered offensive will not be sold.
    2. Policy on Offensive Recordings: The sale of phonograph records and other recordings (including video tape recordings) deemed offensive is prohibited. Phonograph records and other recordings as well as their package covers will be screened by the commanding officer or his/her designated representative(s). Those items considered to be offensive will not be placed on sale ....
    3. Screening Program: Using the suggested guidelines, a continuing program which requires regular screening of all adult reading material and adult recordings before they are placed on sale will be maintained by the commanding officer or his/her designated representative. Any material which is considered offensive will not be sold. An exchange's physical location and patronage are factors to be considered. When a determination is made to sell adult type material, it will not be put on open display. Magazines may be offered from racks in which only the title portion of the magazines is visible. Adult type literature and recordings which by virtue of the title or package design are not suitable for open display will be made available, upon request, at such locations as checkout counters, customer service desks or other similar areas where a clerk is in attendance. A sign will be placed on the appropriate racks or counters informing customers that the adult type material is located at designated counters and is available upon request. Counters designated as appropriate to the sale of adult type material will be identified with an informative sign.

    Navy Exchange Manual, Ch. 4, Part A, Sec. IV, p. 4134, 2.f (Nov. 1984); Id. at f(1), f(2), and f(4).

  3. Interview with Estelle Shenkler, Counsel, Navy Resale Services Support Office (Mar. 6, 1986).
  4. Navy Exchange Manual, Ch. 4, Part. A. Sec. IV, p. 4134, 2.f (Nov. 1984).
  5. New York Hearing, Vol. I, Sam Currin, p. 85.
  6. Id.
  7. Id.
  8. Enslin v. Fulham, No. 83-137-Civ.-4 (E.D.N.C. 1984).
  9. New York Hearing, Vol. I, Sam Currin, p. 127A-11.
  10. Id., p. 86; See also, Hustler v. Gsell, Civil Action No. R-79-1482. In 1979, Hustler Magazine, Inc., Chic Magazine, Inc. and Flynt Distributing Company, Inc. filed a legal action against Army and Air Force Exchange Service representatives. The suit charged that the base exchanges in the Capitol Exchange Region refused to sell Hustler and Chic although similar magazines published by their competitors were sold in the exchanges. The plaintiffs claimed that this decision was arbitrary and a violation of their First and Fifth Amendment rights. The base exchange operators argued that they stocked their exchanges based on customer demand and sales potential. the plaintiffs asserted that all of the three base exchanges in question sold Playboy and Penthouse, the two most widely circulated sexually explicit magazines for men; Playgirl, the highest selling sexually explicit magazine directed toward women, and Players, another widely circulated sexually explicit magazine.

    The Court in entering a judgment in favor of defendants based its decision on defendants' testimony that the decision to stock merchandise was a business decision. Hustler and Chic were not excluded because of content.