"As a bookstore owner, you can well imagine, I am completely against censorship," chirped Hank Bradley. He looked straight into the lens while the Channel Seven camera whirred. Flashbulbs popped and a reporter jotted down some notes and bylines for the photo caption.
"And what better time to celebrate the First Amendment, than a day like today, on National Read-a-Book Day. Feel free to browse around the store, and take all the footage you need for your news spot. I am deeply flattered. As President of the American Booksellers Association, and a member in good standing of the American Civil Liberties Union, you can well imagine that I am resolutely for free speech. It's one of the great tenets this country was founded on of which I am most proud. We have many boo ks in our store, and many authors, whose ideas and writings were once banned -- Malcolm X, Anais Nin, The Diary of Anne Frank, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Color Purple...We take our role in the community, as a stockplace of ideas, very s eriously...
"But Mr. Bradley," interrupted the reporter, "isn't it possible that perhaps some ideas are best left uncovered, unreported, or --"
"My dear sir: Ideas can not hurt anybody -- only the suppression of ideas can harm us. The answer to bad speech or offensive speech is simply more speech. Now -- I don't look at pornography, mind you, or watch X-rated videos -- but I will fight to the death someone else's right to do so. Of course, I don't sell them in my bookstore either -- it's just not the kind of atmosphere I want to cultivate, you understand. We consider ourselves to be a family bookstore, for families and people of all ages an d sizes. It's a business decision, not a moral one. But if someone wanted them, I would feel it my First Amendment duty and responsibility to order them for them.
"But hey -- what's pornography, right? That's a thousand year old question! What's one persons shock is another's pleasure. We are fully stocked with American Psycho, because that is literature, not pornography. It takes a fine eye sometimes t o be able to tell the difference."
"Because there is not one shred of evidence, not one study that's been done, that shows me that pornography hurts anyone or causes men to rape and treat women and children badly.
"The anti-pornography feminists and Jerry Falwell Christian Crusaders would like us to believe that, but it is simply not true. And let me tell you -- I consider myself to be a feminist. I make regular donations to NOW and Planned Parenthood, and I go out of my way to stock feminist authors like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinham and publications like Ms., Working Woman, and even Off Our Backs.
"And I mean I would order anything. Anything. I do not believe in censorship at all, in any way, shape, form or disguise. I guess I'm what you might call a Free Speech Fundamentalist -- I firmly believe that free speech comes before anything else. I'm here to protect your rights, as a citizen, to have access to books and the ideas contained within them.
"Why here's a customer now-- excuse me for a moment won't you?"
The cameras and pens of the press corps jumped to life, following his motion, capturing this great defender of the First Amendment in action.
"What can I do for you today?" Mr. Bradley smiled at his customer.
"Are you the owner of this here store?"
"Sure am. The name's Hank, and I am the proprietor."
"Hank, I hear you're a champion of free speech, and that you'll order anything for anybody."
Hank winked at the reporter.
"My friend, as the President of the American Booksellers Association, and a member in good standing of the American Civil Liberties Union, you can rest assured that your constitutional right of free speech and access to the written word will never, ever -- under any circumstances -- be censored by me."
The press scribbled down each word, and photographers snapped photos as the television cameras whirred.
"Great Hank, because I have some mags and books I've been tryin' to get my hands on, you know, but it's been a hard sell because, well -- not all bookstore owners are, well, you know, as liberal-minded as you are."
"So lay it on me, what can I order for you."
"Well, there's some really dynamite mags, that well, if I could just get ahold of, you know, I would be a very happy man. And I could share 'em with a few close friends, some buddies I met when I was in the state pen you know, and..."
"Oh, an ex-con, glad to help you out. Assisting ex-convicts is one of the many great, liberal causes I wholeheartedly support. What will the world be without forgiveness? So why don't you just give me the titles, I'll do what I can. What'll it be, Prison Rights Quarterly, Legal Aid News, Free the Tehachapee Seven? Just name your game..."
The press was eating up the sound bytes. Liberal book store owner, supporter of ex-convicts, brandishing the First Amendment on National Read-a-Book Day. Won't this play like bully on the six o'clock news? It'll really stir up the law and order crowd, they'll be hopping mad but they'll tune in just so they can get a rise. What better way to blow off some steam after the work day? The flashbulbs popped at a furious pace, and the cameraman quickly popped in another video cartridge, never breaking his stride.
"Yes, heh heh, well...I'm a little embarrassed to say the titles too loudly, bein' in the pen can do a lot to one's confidence. And they're a bit unusual, some people might find me weird, and..."
"Nonsense my good man, nonsense," said Hank Bradley. "No need to be ashamed at the Open Mind Bookstore. Everyone has their own tastes, however quirky or kinky they might be. You've got to stand up for yourself and your viewpoint of the world. Proudly proclaim it from shore to shore, from the highest mountain top, for all to hear. That is what free speech is all about. It is all a grand part of the free marketplace of ideas. It is what makes our country great, and a leader in the world community."
"Gosh Hank. I've...I've never heard it put that way before. Why...you...you...make me feel really good about who I am. Make me feel proud about my desires. Why, they...they are my free speech, aren't they? And I have a right to them and to tell them to the world and...and...perhaps I'll meet other like-minded people to share and exchange with!"
"Of course, of course, my good fellow, that's what diversity is all about. We don't tolerate diversity here, we celebrate it. All viewpoints respected, no matter how inane or offensive. In fact, it is the speech that is most offensive that must be the most protected, I firmly believe that. We'll have none of that PC political correctness stuff in my store. There now, you stand up proudly and proclaim yourself. You're a free man now, out of the penitentiary, with unlimited potential to stand on your own two feet. Now -- what did you say the names of those titles are?"
"Well actually there's a whole list of 'em and the names of them are -- no, wait a minute. I'm...I'm gonna clear my throat and say them out loud, just like you said. I'm not going to be ashamed anymore. Hank, I'm going to proclaim them out loud to the world and to everyone in your bookstore..."
The press shoved forward, with microphones held under his chin as he cleared his throat. "Ahem, ahem, testing 1,2,3,4. I, Tony, former ex-convict and now a free man, would like to order from you, Hank, the owner of the Open Mind Bookstore, the followi ng magazines and books:
1) All Those Juicy Young Pussies #1 and #2 2) Anal Girls That Like Black Cock 3) Daddy's Hot Daughter 4) Daddy's Little Girls 5) Sweet Young Boys 6) Passion for Pissing and Bondage 7) Dog Fuckers 8) Girls and Dogs 9) Horse Lover 10) Incest De light 11) Manson Sex 12) Abused, Defiled, and Degraded 13) Abused Slave 14) Abused Runaway 15) Abused Vietnamese Virgins 16) Naughty Nieces #1 and #2 17) Older Men With Younger Girls 18) Oriental Lust for Pain and Pleasure 19) S & M New England St yle 20) Taste the Lash 21) Sex Crimes 2084 22) Shaved Pink 23) Slit Skirts and Sluts in Heat 24) Teenage Dog Orgy 25) The Horny Dog 26) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis 27) Toilet Orgy 28) Anal Slave 29) All the Way In, Mom 30) A Mother's L oving Son 31) Battered Bride 32) Bound, Whipped and Raped Schoolgirls 33) Boys Gang Orgy 34) Chain Whipped Bride 35) Daddy Tastes so Sweet 36) That's My Daughter 37) Dad + Daughter = Ecstasy 38) Daughter Loves Doggy Fun 39) Mom's Sweet Thighs 40 ) Darling, Darling Niece 41) Deep Throat Daughter 42) Dog Loving Daughter 43) Eager Naked Daughter 44) Ghetto Girls 45) Girls Who Can't Say No 46) Hot Cock Nazi Master 47) Nazi Abuse 48) Nazi Dungeon Slave 49) Nazi Sex Slave 50) Hot for Black Fl esh 51) Hot Wide Spread Daughter 52) Humiliate Me 53) Deck the Bitch and 54) Gag the Bitch 55) Japanese Sadist's Virgin Captives 56) Lust for Black Flesh 57) Momma's Slave Boy 58) Nazi Masters 59) Used By The Gestapo 60) Raped By Arab Terrorists 61) Rich Bitch's Nigger 62) Soviet Sex Slaves 63) Spread Wider Mom 64) Teen in Terror 65) Teen Rape Orgy 66) Teens In Bondage 67) Terri's Lesson in Bondage 68) The Doberman Next Door 69) The Nuns Animal Fun 70) The Wizard of Ahhhs 71) Tied an d Tormented 72) Tied Up Tits 73) White Slaves: Black Slave Girls 74) Vicky's Cock Fucking Throat 75) Punishing His Wife And Daughter 76) Fucking Virgin Ass 77) Girls That Love It From Behind 78) Anal Virgins 79) Queens of Anal Sex 80) Girls Ju st Wanna Get Fucked 81) Shaved Slits 82) Sushi Cunts 83) These Girls Need Deep Penetration 84) 299 Shaved Pussies 85) White Chicks Love Black Dick 86) Pound That Pussy 87) Asian Anal Gir--
"Stop, please stop..." croaked Hank Bradley.
"What's that you say Hank?"
"Hank, you're looking a bit pale, buddy. Perhaps you should sit down. Have a drink of water or somethin'."
"What...what were you...arrested for...?"
"What's that Hank? I say speak up, I can't hear you when your biting on your thumb like that."
"What were you...in prison for?"
"Aw, nothin' much. Just a misunderstandin' between me and my daughter and my wife. One thing led to another and well...I don't wanna bother ya none with the details."
"What's that Hank?"
"Get OUT of my store..."
"But Hank -- what about my mags and books...?
"Get OUT of my STORE."
"But Hank, what about censorship and free speech and all that?"
"GET OUT OF MY GOD DAMNED STORE YOU FUCKING PERVERT!!! AND DON'T YOU EVER, EVER COME BACK!!!"
The ex-con slinked out of the store with his free speech tucked between his legs. The Great Free Press hustled after him, determined to gain an exclusive interview.
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