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AFA Journal

COVER STORY

Kmart promises broken

Purchases prove chain is selling explicit CDs to minors and can’t be trusted



AFA Journal, October 2001 Edition

Despite promises not to sell explicit music to minors, Kmart corporation continues to do just that.

Children of AFA members in different states recently purchased CDs marked with parental advisory labels, facing little or no scrutiny on the part of Kmart employees. This is the second month in a row Kmart has made such transactions. AFA has initiated a national boycott of the retailer, and asks members to follow suit in an effort to persuade Kmart to be a responsible, family-friendly chain. Kmart stores in Arkansas and Pennsylvania are the latest to sell explicit CDs to minors.

In Jonesboro, AFA of Arkansas President Bobby Hester took two 15-year-old boys to Kmart where the boys purchased a CD with the parental advisory logo. Hester didn’t accompany the teens through the checkout line. When the teens checked out, a cash register computer message came up calling for an age check or guardian approval. When one boy walked away, the other asked the clerk how old one must be to purchase such a CD.

“At that point another clerk spoke up and said, ‘Just put something in and sell it to them,’” Hester said. “The clerk did that and the boy purchased the CD with the parental advisory warning label. They were going to also sell to the other boy, but he became a little nervous and didn’t want to proceed with the purchase.”

In Franklin, AFA of Northwest Pennsylvania President Diane Gramley took her two youngest sons, Robert, 13, and Nathan, 15, to a local Kmart. Nathan went to purchase a CD by Kid Rock, “Devil Without a Cause,” but was turned away by the first clerk. Nathan then simply went to another clerk who sold him the CD, no questions asked.

Why is AFA in the fight against Kmart selling these CDs? A quick look at the content of the CDs reveals Kmart is, by selling this music, effectively saying it cares nothing about the family, nor about the messages it conveys to young people.

The parental advisory CDs purchased by children at Kmart include titles from “artists” Eminem, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker and Korn, but are only a few of the dozens of such titles the retailer carries. The songs on these CDs are extremely explicit, and it doesn’t take long to discover just how bad the lyrics are. On one CD, for example, one of the musicians sings about sexually assaulting a male cousin, cutting his mother’s throat, and having 10 of his friends “take” his little sister’s virginity. Printed on the CD of another artist is a hand making an obscene gesture.

AFA Director of Special Projects Randy Sharp said some store managers, perhaps out of confusion, have told customers their stores do not carry the CDs with explicit lyrics. However, phone calls, visits and purchases have shown that indeed the stores do carry the explicit CDs and are selling them to minors.

“Some managers don’t even know what’s in their stores,” Sharp said. “Several of the ones who do know, and the ones who have it brought to their attention aren’t happy with the policy. They don’t like the idea of having to carry this music.”

Also, Sharp said some Kmart managers have said their competitor, Wal-Mart, carries this type of music, which isn’t true. Wal-Mart has long held a policy of not carrying music that requires parental guidance stickers. That retailer’s policy states: “While Wal-Mart sets high standards, it would not be possible to eliminate every image, word or topic that an individual might find objectionable. And the goal is not to eliminate the need for parents to review the merchandise their children buy. The policy simply helps eliminate the most objectionable material from Wal-Mart’s shelves.”

Wal-Mart’s vice president of public relations has reiterated to AFA his company has no plans to sell such music.

This marks the second time Kmart has chosen to sell products that are not family-friendly. In the 1990s, AFA led a successful campaign against Kmart for selling pornographic magazines through its subsidiaries Waldenbooks and Borders. Then-President and CEO Floyd Hall assured AFA that Kmart would not return to its anti-family practices.

AFA President Donald E. Wildmon has called Kmart’s new policy a sham, saying it only provides a cover for the retailer once again to peddle pornography.

AFA is calling for a boycott of Kmart. Wildmon is asking concerned supporters to:
  • Make a toll-free call to Kmart at its customer care desk (1-866-562-7848) and tell them, in a kind way, that you will not shop at their stores until they change their policy, and that you plan to tell your friends about Kmart’s involvement with pornographic and violent music.


  • Call your local Kmart and give the manager the same message.


  • E-mail Chairman Julian Day: jday@kmart.com