WILLIAMSBURG (AP) — John Callaghan was so disgusted by the cover of a national homosexual-advocacy newsmagazine at a library that featured two men about to kiss, he said, that he ripped it off and took it home with him.
Now he could face criminal charges.
Library officials are deciding whether to alert law-enforcement officials, revoke Mr. Callaghan’s library privileges or take other disciplinary action against him.
“Anything of this nature is treated seriously,” said John Moorman, director of the Williamsburg Regional Library.
Mr. Callaghan, 77, said he got angry when he saw the cover of the Advocate featuring a black man and a white man, both bare-chested and muscular, leaning in to kiss each other.
“I thought of my grandchildren, and I thought of impressionable teenagers, so I took the cover off,” Mr. Callaghan said.
Mr. Callaghan said he was offended the magazine was available to young people and that his tax dollars were spent to put it there.
“They don’t put Playboy in the library because it’s considered immoral and indecent,” he said.
Mr. Moorman said the library has subscribed to the magazine since 2001 and this was the first time anyone has vandalized it or complained about it. He said the magazine was added to the collection at the request of people in the community.
“We represent all the taxpayers,” Mr. Moorman said. “We are a community organization, and we serve the whole community.”
The Nov. 11 edition of the Advocate appeared on a magazine rack also featuring sexually suggestive pop singer Britney Spears on the cover of Cosmopolitan and a scantily clad Jessica Simpson, also a pop singer, on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Under Virginia law, willfully destroying or damaging a magazine in a library is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
Mr. Callaghan said he didn’t know he broke the law. Told he could go to jail, he said, “It would depend where they would send me, and if they had TV with football on it, that would be important.”
He said he still has the offensive cover he ripped off last week. The library learned of the incident after Mr. Callaghan approached a local newspaper to complain about the cover but, he said, “They don’t have witnesses that I did this.”