I’ve driven through Mountain Home, Arkansas countless times. The Ozarks were a regular part of my childhood scenery, as my family made a drive from northern Missouri to southern Arkansas and back again a few times every year on visits to my grandparents.
The Ozarks are beautiful, but it wasn’t long before even child-me realized that I probably ought never plan to move there. My mother could would point out which towns had “sundown signs” only a few years before. Exceptions aside (and of course, there are always exceptions), much of Arkansas is just not a friendly place if you are different in any way from the state norm.
I kind of hate to pick on Mountain Home, but the manager of the Harps grocery store there asked for it when putting grey shields, reading, “To Protect Our Young Shoppers” over US Weekly magazine covers featuring Elton John, his partner and their new baby son. The manager said there had been complaints. When a local GLBT group complained louder, the shields were removed.
It’s the height of silly, really, since to look at the magazine, you wouldn’t necessarily even know you were looking at a gay couple and their baby. And, as the GLBT group pointed out, it isn’t exactly Hustler. Let’s face it, Elton John has seen his sexiest days. And even if they did realize they were looking at gay dads, I’m pretty sure no young shoppers were harmed by the magazine cover before the shield was put up or after it was removed.
The whole thing actually makes me wonder if another logic was at play in the store manager’s decision. Remember that bit in Huckleberry Finn when the con men, the “King” and the “Duke” get up a nonsense show in Arkansas? They add a note to the bottom of their playbill warning:
“No ladies or children admitted”
remarking, that “if that don’t fetch ‘em, I don’t know Arkansas.”
Perhaps the shields over the US Weeklies in Mountain Home created just enough prurient curiosity to sell more magazines.
"All that you have is your soul." Tracy Chapman
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