Fairfax County's passage of a tough new ordinance that takes Playboy and other sex oriented magazines off the store racks and puts them out of view behind the counter was the culmination of a carefully organized, sometimes orchestrated campaign that disarmed critics and even won some of then as supporters.
The leader of the campaign was Board of Supervisors Chairman John F. Herrity, who, while savoring Wednesday night's victory during his lunch yesterday, cheerfully admitted that if he had stood by his original, broader proposal, "it would have gone up in smoke."
Herrity's campaign, begun early this summer, proceeded on two fronts: Getting ordinance language that was confined to the goal of putting the magazines out of reach of juviniles and building a broad base of community support for the Law.
Herrity is confident that the adopted law does not stray beyond its intention - a frequent problem in controversial area of laws aimed at pornography - and the 9-to-0 vote of the Board of Supervisors provides a powerful buttress for his contention.
"I have no problem supporting this (Herrity's) version," Supervisor Alan H.Magazine (D-Mason) said before Wednesday night's meeting. Earlier, Magazine had been supporting a draft ordinance of his own that would let the magazines stay on the racks but in opaque, sealed wrappers.
To win the support of Magazine, and other originally hesitant supervisors, Herrity did what he has not always been willing to do on controversial positions he has taken: He compromised.
Herrity's original proposal included not only pictorial matter but textful content. But that was scrapped, along with provisions providing penalties for juveniles convicted of purchasing the magazines and barring the circulation of the magazines in public schools and libraries. The enacted ordinance requires that magazines that have predominaantly sexually explicit pictorial matter be placed out of view.
Appearing on a local television show when his original proposals was on the table, Herrity got a hard time from questioners who picked at the "broad and loose language," words he himself uses. "I have a law degree too," he said.
So the proposal was sent back to the county attorney's office, where Herrity recalled telling then Assistant County Attorney James P. Downey, now in private practice: "Look, we're got to target in on what we're seeking to prohibit."
Another adviser was Frank C. Kimball, the retired vice president and general counsel of the Marriott Corp., who had headed the Board-appointed Citizens Advisory Committee on Control of Obscenity.
While his proposal continued to be refined, Herrity was proceeding on the second front - getting broad-based community support.
The person he chose to lead this effort was, again, Kimball. A lawyer who had spent a couple of years of involvement with the pornography issue, Kimball was asked by Herrity to head a citizen's committee to win support for the measure.
"I said to Herrity," Kimball recalled, "'Don't have the county government appoint it (like the first committee). It might look like it's I said we needed a spontaneous, grassroots group. It shouldn't even have a name."
The group was formed, without a name, but it did not reach throughout the county spontaneously. That happened with long hours of careful organization.
The message was passed to the Protestant ministerial association, the Catholic diocese, the Knights of Columbus, the County Federation of PTAs, the county Chamber of Commerce, the county school board - all of whom lent support or official endorsement.
Supporters telephoned county supervisors, some of whom were still hesitant or uncommitted, and hammered away at what Kimball called "the movement to inundate the people of this country with all this sexually explicit material."
In preparing for the public hearing, the Kimball committee lined up a variety of speakers, ranging from concerned parents to child psychiatrists, to stress the rationale for the ordinance: That juveniles are not mature enoughj to cope with the often provocative and explicit material of sex magazines, and there often is a link between such material and sex crimes.
Kimball's claim that "we felt we practically got the whole community informed" seemed borne out the night of the meeting, when about 350 people tried to get into a room holding only 180, and 84 signed up to speak.
After Magazine threw his support to Herrity's proposal, Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville), pondering the long speakers' list as she temporarily chaired the meeting, said to the audience: "I think everyone here knows how this Board feels."
The audience, by hen, did, but they took the next three hours to remind the Board just how they felt.
Fairfax appears to be in the forefront of other Washington area jurisdictions in restricting adult bookstores and movie houses, vigorously prosecuting adult bookstore owners, and trying to define community standards to prevent a future influx of sexually objectionable material.
Last year the Board approved an ordinance that set community standards for obscenity and passed a law restricting the location of adult bookstores and movie houses in the county.
Some Fairfax residents protested for months about the proposed inclusion of sex-education programs on the public schools and the County School Board tried to prevent a high school newspaper from printing portions of an article on birth control.
Fairfax "is a different kind of community," said Jim Guiliano, executive director of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. "It's not very urbanized. There are different types of people. There are more families out here than in Arlington. The people probably don't feel confrotable seeing these types of things in their community," Guiliano said, referring to magazines like Playboy and Hustler.
Lauren Selden, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Northern Virginia, said passage of the ordinance covering magazines could have been by accident or a reflection of the community.
"I think Herrity hit on the issue and is riding it," Selden said.