The following is an excerpted version
of a letter written by Playboy representative Gary Cole on May
16, 1996 in response to an article the Carolina
Blue newspaper printed about Linnea Smith and her efforts
to disaffiliate college athletics departments and athletes from
pornographic magazines like Playboy, and her protests
against the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (Kaylor;
May 4, 1996, p. 6).
It is clear that Cole is not interested
in directly addressing any of the issues Smith raises in the
article, or in her work. His letter was written to the news reporter
who wrote the article, not the more appropriate Letters to the
Editor section. In that public space Cole would have had to defend
Playboy and SI without resorting to personal attacks,
and juvenile name calling.
As the subsequent letter by Carolina
Blue Editor clearly indicates, people can see through Playboy's
strong-arm tactics, and will not allow them to censor the efforts
of inquiring journalists, or prevent them from reporting on those
who dislike pornography. [(Smith
in Kaylor, Carolina Blue, May 4, 1996, p. 6). See how
Playboy responds to this article on Smith, and how they
have responded directly to Smith].
Dear Mr. [Michael] Kaylor,
I'm writing to you in reference
to an article you wrote that was published in the May 4, 1996
edition of Carolina Blue concerning Ms. Linnea Smith.
Most of the information included in the article in reference
to Playboyis inaccurate and I'm sorry that you or someone
at Carolina Blue didn't pick up the phone and call us
to get our side of the story and check the facts before publishing
...There have been only a handful
who have turned down the opportunity to accept the PlayboyAll-America designation and attend our weekend.
In a few instances, it was because, as Ms. Smith states, the
player felt his own personal beliefs were at odds with the philosophy
of the magazine. No problem. Playboybelieves in freedom
of opinion, freedom of choice, freedom of speech. In a few other
instances, most particularly at North Carolina and, even more
particularly, in the basketball program, players have sometimes
not attended because they were pressured not to by Ms. Smith.
Kenny Smith [no relation to Linnea Smith] is one example. Eric
Montross is another although Ms. Smith neglects to mention that
Eric did attend one Playboy All-America weekend (copy
of photo enclosed). When we invited him again the next season,
he told me that he wanted to come very much, that he had no problem
with any aspect of Playboy or the weekend, but that Ms.
and Coach Smith had 'made life miserable' for him for attending
the previous year. ...In the few instances when a player has
declined (Kenny Smith) and there was another player of comparable
skills, we then selected the other player to receive the award.
However, we do not substitute players because they can not attend
the weekend if we feel they are dominant at their position and
that there is no comparable player at that position. ...
Now about our Coach of the Year
award. Along with our All-America players awards, we also select
a Coach of the Year. ...[M]any legendary names in coaching ...
have attended our football and basketball weekends over the years.
You read [the list of names] and tell me what you think about
the legitimacy of Playboy's All-America preseason selection
Oh, and one other coach that Ms.
Smith forgot to mention. Coach Dean Smith [Linnea Smith's
husband] who happened to be the PlayboyCoach of the
Year 20 years ago on that very first Playboy All-America
team in basketball. Coach Smith attended the weekend at the PlayboyResort
in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and had, as I remember, a great time.
Ms. Smith is wrong when she indicates
that schools 'pressure' any of their athletes to attend. ...
And how do the schools 'profit' from activities such as the PlayboyAll-America
weekend? Do they profit from the Heisman? Do they profit from
being on TV? Do they profit from being featured in SI
or Carolina Blue? What is she talking about?
...The truth of this whole controversy
with Ms. Smith can be found in the fact that she finds a photo
of Christie Brinkley clothed with her three-year old daughter,
not clothed, to be evil or pornographic. Or that she thinks the
problems of the world can somehow be solved by getting rid of
the Sports Illustratedswimsuit issue. Look at studies
of child abuse. Look at the histories of serial rapists, sex
offenders, etc. You'll find that the vast majority of these people
came from sexually repressive environments, that they had dysfunctional
families, alcoholic and abusive parents, etc. Do you think the
Catholic church has had so many problems with priests/sex because
they all subscribe to Playboy Magazine?
Ms. Smith is to be condemned because
she cloaks her puritanism, her prudishness, her repressive attitudes
in the cloth of academia and knowledge when, in fact, they are
the fruits of ignorance and misinformation.
If you are a student studying
to be a reporter, please remember that you have an obligation
to look for both sides of the story and to check your facts.
If you're a working reporter, shame on you. I know that the Smith's
have lots of clout in Carolina country. But I don't think that
entitles Ms. Smith to use Carolina Blueas a slander sheet
to promote her own personal philosophical agenda. If Ms. Smith's
attitudes accurately reflect the editorial viewpoint of your
paper, perhaps it would be better to retitle it 'Carolina Bluenose.'
Teams [Cole's actually works as Playboy's photography
The following is the letter (reproduced
in full) written by Carolina BlueEditor John Kilgo on
May 22, 1996 in response to Cole:
Dear Mr. Cole,
"Your letter to Michael Kaylor, a
reporter on our staff, was arrogant, misleading, insulting to
Linnea Smith, as well as a complete misrepresentation of the
truth. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Dr. Smith has demonstrated the
courage to take on giant publications such as yours, and to personally
attack her in the way that you did in your letter is reprehensible.
Dr. Smith has explained in detail why she opposes your publication's
association with college athletics, and to try to make her the
villain in this case exposes your own ignorance and indifference
to common decency.
I asked Eric Montross to confirm
your account of his refusal to attend one of your so-called 'weekends'
('Coach Smith made life miserable for me') and he says there's
not a shred of truth to it. I wasn't surprised.
You can rest assured that your
heavy-handed letter to reporter Kaylor has been filed as garbage,
recognized for what it is--yet another attempt by you and your
magazine to bully individuals and publications that dare to try
to shed light on a matter of great importance.
Your personal, mean, uninformed
and cheap shots at Dr. Smith are another matter all together.
I have forwarded your tirade to her. She won't be surprised.
She's known for a long time that going against trash peddlers
is no easy challenge, especially those with big money behind
them who also try to cloak themselves in the disguise of legitimate
I'm sure your venom will only
strengthen her will, as it does ours."
Coles letter continued.