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9 Controversial Magazine Issues Too Inflammatory for Newsstands

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Whether it’s a racy photograph or an article that expresses an unpopular point of view, most magazines have been mired in controversy at some point (though we don't remember anyone yanking our Swimsuit Issue off the newsstand). But here are a few controversial issues that either had to be revised or were removed from shelves entirely.

1. Jesus and the Bunnies

Putting Jesus on the cover of almost any magazine has the potential to be controversial, but Playboy? Yeah, that’s gonna ruffle some feathers. Especially when the scene depicts Jesus holding a topless, tattooed model in bed. And the July 2010 issue of Playboy’s Portugal edition didn’t stop there. The spread inside revealed Jesus standing next to a prostitute on the street, gazing at two women making out, and praying next to a topless woman reading a book. Playboy Enterprises - AKA Hef’s team in the U.S. - said they were never given the opportunity to review and approve the cover. As a result, they reacted fast - and furiously - by ending their relationship with the Portuguese publishing house.

2. In which people are not shadows

Earlier this year, the Philippines’ FHM yanked their latest issue after the cover with Philippine model Bela Padilla raised more than a few eyebrows. The shot in question featured Padilla posing seductively behind the words “Bela Padilla: Stepping out of the Shadows” amid a bevy of other models. The controversy? The models flanking her were all black. Upset readers flooded the magazine’s website with comments; the publishers quickly issued an apology: “In our pursuit to come up with edgier covers, we will strive to be more sensitive next time." Padilla took to Twitter to explain: "The concept was stepping out of MY inhibitions, MY fears, MY shadows. Not bashing a certain race."

3. This is why you always proofread

You’re probably familiar with USA Weekend: it runs in more than 800 weekend editions of newspapers across the country - that’s a circulation of, oh, about 23.7 million. So the newspaper magazine had a pretty big audience when they unwittingly ran the “n” word in an illustration that appeared in the background of a story in 2004. The word was caught mid-print, but more than 300 papers had already gone out with the offensive language. USA Weekend reimbursed the newspapers that chose to ditch the magazine rather than run the illustration.

The artist claimed his use of the word was entirely accidental: the illustration used the text from an article in The New York Times Magazine, and that article included “an exchange” that included that particular word. The artist said he used the text as a design element only and didn’t proofread it first.

4. Heinrich Himmler can’t handle TIME

Way back in 1939, Hitler’s right-hand man Heinrich Himmler banned all future issues of TIME from entering Germany the week after he was featured on the cover. The accompanying story chronicled Himmler’s career, apparently in a manner the Gestapo chief found unsatisfactory. Maybe he didn’t like hearing himself described as “inordinately ambitious,” or perhaps it was “weak, fleshy-chinned [and] owlish” that he objected to. Wait, I bet it was the jab about him looking “more like an Austrian gymnasium teacher than a leader of men.”

5. "Toughest Boss" doesn’t take kindly to the title

Two years before they pulled the plug on operations altogether, Eastern Airlines pulled Fortune magazine from all of their flights. The February 27, 1989, issue featured an article on America’s Toughest Bosses. The cover model for the list just happened to be Frank Lorenzo, the chairman of Eastern’s parent company, who reportedly expected his employees to work 14-hour days, six days a week. Fortune wasn’t fazed by the lower-than-barf-bag demotion, and issued a statement saying, “Fortune staff members will continue to fly the Eastern skies, friendly or otherwise.” A company spokesperson said that the command to axe the magazine didn’t actually come from Lorenzo, but must have come from someone in “middle management.”

6. Fidel flusters Miami International Airport

It wasn’t Fidel Castro’s famous love of cigars that landed him on the cover of the June 1999 Cigar Aficionado. Pictures of Castro and Bill Clinton accompanied a headline in giant red type that asked, “IS IT TIME TO END THE EMBARGO?” The question didn’t sit too well with Miami International Airport officials, who felt the cover and inside article painted a picture of the communist leader that was a little too pretty. The magazine was banned from the airport for three days, until common sense prevailed. “In the end, we have to come down on the side of what has been the tradition in the United States of freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” the Director of the Aviation Department said.

By the way, Castro claims he gave up his cigar smoking habit in the mid-1980s, but still gives boxes of his signature Cohiba cigars to ambassadors. "I give people cigars and tell them it is poison,” he once said. “I say: 'Smoke them if you like, but the best thing you can do with that box of cigars is give it to your enemy.'"

7. You know what’s not funny? The Ku Klux Klan

Peanut butter and pickles. Ice cream and ketchup. Some things just aren’t meant to go together, and I’d say the Ku Klux Klan and “humorous” advertising are near the top of the list. In 2000, South American Rolling Stone pulled a Hawaiian Tropic ad that featured a sunbather being dragged from a swimming pool by Klansmen. Rolling Stone’s U.S. office wasn’t happy, and neither were Argentine anti-discrimination groups. The creative director of the agency that created the spot said that he felt Argentinians saw the Klan as outdated and ridiculous and that the ad was meant as a parody of racism, not actual racism.

8. If we could only take the breasts out of breastfeeding

In 1994, at least 18 Rosauer’s Supermarkets and one Safeway in the Spokane area pulled an issue of LIFE magazine from checkout stands. The cover showed a breastfeeding woman in profile. “Material like that should not be on the racks for eyes to see, especially little children,” said one appalled mother.

Life is far from the only publication to find itself in the middle of the breastfeeding controversy, though. Other magazines that have run across similar problems after running a cover including a baby at a naked breast include Babytalk, Redbook, W and Vanity Fair.

9. When Presidential parodies were frowned upon

Images courtesy of standinsanddirtynothings

Back in 1966, a humor magazine at the University of Texas called the Texas Ranger retouched a picture of LBJ to give him stringy hair. The bewigged President was to appear on a cover image of an old-fashioned medicine bottle with the label “Mother Baines’ Snake Oil Elixir.” The magazine’s faculty advisers demanded that the insulting image be changed or pulled entirely, so the illustrator scrambled to change it to “Texas Ranger Snake Oil Elixir” with the tagline “Hastily Revised Batch.”

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.


According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.


In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.


Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.


This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.


Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.


This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.


This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.


If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”


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