That Time Playboy’s Braille Edition Was at Center of Congressional Fight Over Budget, Morality

Lawmakers tried to shut down the publication of the magazine in Braille in the ’80s

There are at least 500 people who actually regularly read Playboy for solely the articles and not the pictures — the Braille version of the magazine that is.

That fact is even more interesting given that Congress cut off taxpayer funding for making Playboy Magazine available in Braille in 1985, according to the Washington Post.

The Post reported that the Library of Congress had been publishing magazines in Braille since the 1970s. But in the ’80s, Republican lawmakers were “concerned with the moral implications of taxpayer-funded pornographic material” and actually wanted to stop the service for Playboy.

This sparked a huge debate within Congress, with some calling it “censorship.”

“I just think that when we have a budget deficit of $200 billion, this is an unwise use of taxpayers’ money,” Rep. Chalmers Wylie said in 1981, according to the Post. “I think Playboy assails traditional moral values and peddles licit as well as illicit sex. I believe that promoting the reading of Playboy in this way does lead to undesirable activities.”

The Senate apparently agreed and voted to stop taxpayer funds from publishing Playboy in Braille. Then, a group of Playboy readers sued for the right to read the magazine, and a U.S. District Court judge overturned the ban, citing a violation of the First Amendment.

The Library of Congress has since been publishing them again and Playboy is now among 30 general-interest magazines published in Braille by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. And it has 500 regular readers.

A spokesperson for the NLS has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.