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Local residents remember Citizens Against Pornography

Linden, Michigan — from – It began 26 years ago, in 1984, when a Linden business displayed a Dial-A-Porn poster, with phone numbers listed. Youngsters stopping in for a snack or soda saw the phone numbers and called them, some of them racking up thousands of dollars on their parents’ phone bills.

The local Citizens Against Pornography group formed, with members from the Linden, Fenton and Holly areas. They received assistance from Bill Johnson, a teacher who began helping the group in 1985. Johnson left teaching and became the American Family Association’s first state director, in 1988, a position he held until founding the American Decency Association in 1999.

On Monday, Johnson and his son, Chris, visited Linden to reminisce with several former members of the Citizens Against Pornography. Local resident Judy Trevillian showed the bulky, black tape recorder she used to make a recording of Dial-A-Porn, which children were calling. Trevillian said she still has the tape, which she brought to the Rev. Donald Neuville, now retired from Linden Presbyterian Church. “He got us started,” she said.

After playing similar recordings at a meeting in Fremont in 1986, Johnson said two young men present asked him not to ever play those tapes again. “It isn’t just pictures,” he said. “It’s also words. That was a real eye opener to me, how sensitive and vulnerable some people are.”

Trevillian and other local residents placed signs, spoke at schools and held luncheons featuring speakers. Trevillian appeared on Oprah, and she and Ruth Wagner attended the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography in Los Angeles.

On the day they were to take a plane to California, Trevillian and Wagner had forgotten it was a holiday and banks would be closed. They’d planned to get some cash for their trip before leaving. Linden resident Marge Kimble telephoned and said she thought they had forgotten about the holiday, and she had money for them for “lunch in California,” Wagner said.

The attorney general’s commission was stressful, because of the videos shown, Trevillian said. Larry Flynt and his entourage, and a pornography star attended. “As soon as she walked out, all the media followed her,” Wagner said.

Trevillian added, “We were in the minority, for sure.”

Citizens Against Pornography also held White Ribbons Against Pornography at Linden City Hall. They had yellow leaf bags, printed with “Pornography destroyed” slogans, and volunteers offered to rake people’s yards for them. Afterward, they left behind the yellow bags with the slogans.

It resulted in a woman calling them and saying she would remove pornography from her store, said Frances Boone. The caller said she had no idea so many people felt that way. In addition, selling the bags, in sets of five tied with a ribbon, was a fundraiser for Citizens Against Pornography.

Due to Citizens Against Pornography, parents became aware of Dial-A-Porn and learned they could buy blocking devices to keep their children from accessing it, Trevillian said. And, a lot of money was refunded to many families, due to underage children calling Dial-A-Porn.

Trevillian ended her involvement with Citizens Against Pornography in 1991, while Boone continued until March 1998. Trevillian was receiving threats. “It was a pretty nasty web of people that were involved,” said her husband, Don.

There were many barriers to the fight against pornography at the time, including some powerful public officials, Johnson said. In addition, while George H.W. Bush and the late Ronald Reagan were presidents, there was more anti-pornography support. It stalled with the Bill Clinton administration.

Because of the Internet and desensitization of people toward pornography, the fight is more difficult, former members of Citizens Against Pornography say. The key now is to begin with their own families, trying to teach younger family members and hoping they spread the word, Judy Trevillian said.


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