WASHINGTON – Bob Guccione, publisher of Penthouse, sued the federal government this week over a Defense Department provision that will prevent the sale and rental of sexually explicit magazines and videos at defense facilities.
General Media Communications Inc., which is owned by Guccione and prints the U.S. edition of Penthouse, on Thursday sued Defense Secretary William J. Perry and the Department of Defense, claiming the provision is unconstitutional.
It violates Guccione’s First Amendment rights “to disseminate constitutionally protected periodicals, video cassettes, audio recordings or other modes of expression,” says the complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The provision is a product “of the continuing attempts by the politically-motivated religious right wing to enforce their irrational notion that sex is dirty, shameful and unnatural,” Guccione said in a written statement.
He added in an interview, “We intend to have the act struck down.”
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, who pressed to have the language adopted this year in the military funding bill for fiscal year 1997, called the lawsuit “a waste of [Guccione’s] money.”
Bartlett added, “Uncle Sam’s subsidized distribution of smut at military facilities was a slap in the face to the almost 200,000 women on active duty in our military, our military families and all women.”
Magazines are sold tax free at military facilities and at 10 percent below the cover price, Bartlett said.
The measure preventing the sale and rental of sexually explicit magazines was signed by President Clinton Sept. 23 and takes effect 90 days after that.
“Bob Guccione doesn’t need or deserve a corporate welfare handout from taxpayers,” Bartlett said.
Guccione agreed the magazines are sold tax free at defense installations, but said their sale is not subsidized. -30-