Monday, August 24, 2009

RFK -- Yes, Robert F. Kennedy -- in Playboy

So, while all the straight boys would probably pick up an ancient July 1967 copy of Playboy and first look at the "Girls of Paris" pictorial, leave it to a gay man like me to notice that in the letters to the editor, there are some amazing historic letters, including the first letter in the letters section, from a certain Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

RFK writes in response to an article about tax reform, and he lets the editors know "that your thoughts and the problems pointed out in the Playboy article ... will be most helpful to me as I continue my study of this whole area of tax reform."

Lest you think his letter was an aberration, directly below Kennedy's letter is a letter on the same subject from Sen. Charles H. Percy, and nearby are also letters from U.S. Rep. Bob Sikes, an Unitarian minister, more ministers and senators and representatives, and even Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore (father of the future vice president of the same name).

Yes, that is the magazine that the United States federal government under Atty. Gen. Ed Meese tried to run out of business in the 1980s -- and, I argue, contributed mightily to that effort by working with right-wing moralists to boycott Playboy's advertisers. Considering the intelligent and largely progressive discussions going on among America's leading political, cultural, and religious figures within its pages, I do not think that the Religious Right's fundamental problem with Playboy was its (relatively mild) sexual content; it was its intelligence and progressiveness.

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