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Keep pornography away from our kids

Convenience stores should show more responsibility when it comes to smutty magazines

By Verinda M. Birdsong

6:22 PM EDT, August 3, 2011

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Everyone knows their local convenience store, where teenagers go in and buy slushies and adults pick up the occasional milk or pancake mix for the morning's breakfast. It is great to be able to quickly and easily get a cup of coffee, along with the morning's edition of the newspaper, a gallon of milk, even a breakfast sandwich, all the while pumping gas into your car.

But what's up with the racy magazines in the front of the store?

Not long ago, the stores I frequent in Hampden, Randallstown, Pikesville and downtown Baltimore used to have the magazine racks along with the newspapers at the side and back of the store near the drink coolers and the ATM. Popular magazines like "People," "Ebony, "Jet" and others were in the front, and the illicit magazines were on the back shelf of the rack, with a shield of some kind concealing the cover of the adult magazines. Not so now. In every store I have walked into in these last few months, adult magazines are plainly seen while customers are purchasing items. Rather than "cover the cover," these store owners are now exposing "all eyes" — including the eyes of young children — to this sordid printed trash.

What? Are they not selling as many smutty magazines as before, so they have to be in front of the cashier just in case, while sipping your coffee, you might want to "take a peek"?

What kind of message does this send to our children about our moral values? There used to be adult magazine stores for those who wanted to consume such, hidden in the red-light district areas of town, away from families. Do we now want to introduce our children, who are already inundated with trash from the Internet and reality TV, to more profane images of men and women in a magazine at their fingertips? When they go to the corner store, how can you prevent them from buying the magazine if there is no warning of "We will card you for shopping for these magazines at our stores," as with cigarettes. Should we continue to give business to these store owners who are so irresponsible in how they conduct business in our communities?

I would also suggest that a law should be on the floor during the 2012 session of the General Assembly to stop convenience stores from even carrying these types of magazines altogether, tempting our children and weak-minded citizens. Remember the story of Eve, the first woman on Earth? She saw that the fruit tree was good "and pleasing to the eye," so she took what God told her not to eat. That's how temptation works; sometimes it's in "seeing" the thing that draws us into a particular vice, just like Eve.

I don't believe the purpose of the convenience store is to provide filth to the community. "Convenience" should mean getting those staples we frequently use, a quick drink, gas and some cash. That is all most people use the store for, and that is a good purpose. It's bad enough that there are Lotto machines and Keno terminals at some of the stores, but the forbidden fruit of debauchery must end. And the community should sound alarm about it.

Verinda M. Birdsong is a Christian writer who lives in Baltimore City. She writes a local weekly column on homelessness in Baltimore. Her email is wordlot674@hotmail.com.