Online Porn Site Says I Can’t Buy Adult Material Because I Live in a “Sexually Conservative” Area December 15, 2014

Online Porn Site Says I Can’t Buy Adult Material Because I Live in a “Sexually Conservative” Area

Last night, acting on a tip, I visited the adult website Adam & Eve to buy some DVDs. When they asked for my address, I gave them a particular zip code from Tennessee. And then I couldn’t go any further with my purchase, because this was on the next screen:

At this time, we are unable to send any XXX books, magazines or videos to your address. Your community has been considered sexually conservative and our lawyers have advised us against it. Keep in mind that this is not a matter of legislation and that both the billing and shipping addresses must be in a non-conservative area. However, you can still order adult toys, lingerie, novelty items and lotions from our online catalog.

What the hell was that all about?

So I called up Adam & Eve’s customer service line and ended up having a lovely 17-minute conversation with a company representative regarding what this was all about.

Here’s the short version of the story as I understood it: In the 1970s and 1980s, there were laws forbidding the sending of pornographic material through U.S. mail. Adam & Eve’s founder Phil Harvey, among others, went to court over this several times — and he came out on top each time. He even wrote about it in a book available on the company’s website:

37 armed law enforcement agents forced their way into the offices of Adam & Eve in 1986. Employees were detained without due process or access to an attorney. This was only the start of 8 years of legal battles and $3 million in legal fees that would mean the difference between survival and oblivion.

However, faced with the possibility of further lawsuits, a compromise was reached decades ago. Harvey essentially threw the feds a bone. Since obscenity rules were different based on where you lived, the company promised not to sell certain items to people in those locations.

Which items were forbidden? Anything depicting actual genitalia, including videos and dirty magazines.

Dildos and blow-up dolls, however, were fine since they were fake.

Unless, of course, the boxes they came in showed the actual pictures of the porn star’s nether regions… in which case they fell into the forbidden zone.

(I should tell you at this point that my wife was very amused by this conversation, mostly because, every few seconds, she would hear me say something along the lines of, “What about dildos?”)

Even though most of these communities have very different demographics now and much looser obscenity rules — which is why adult bookstores may have been built in those places over the past several years — Adam & Eve is still sticking to their promise. They won’t send genitalia-depicting items to “sexually conservative” cities in places like Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Utah… not because they would lose in a lawsuit anymore, but because they’d rather just play it safe by adhering to decades-old rules. And they want to show they’re making a sincere effort not to violate local standards.

Plus, you know, it’s not like you can’t find those things somewhere else.

So there’s your explanation. I hope I got it right. There are more details here if you’re interested. And if you’re looking to do some last-minute erotica shopping, you know where to look.

Unless you live in Spring City, Tennessee, in which case your options may be limited.

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