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Arkansas supermarket chain Harp’s has created a little bit of a controversy by covering up a magazine rack that featured an Us Weekly issue featuring singer Elton John, his partner David Furnish, and their new adopted baby.

The card in front of the magazine read: “Family Shield. To protect young Harp’s shoppers.”

Well, someone took a picture of the “shield,” it made it onto the internet, and suddenly the controversy went viral and Harp’s was getting phone calls questioning why it would cover up the picture of a mainstream singer who, it should be noted, recently performed at Rush Limbaugh’s fourth wedding.

Kim B. Eskew, president/COO at Harp’s, has now released the following statement:

“We have received a number of complaints regarding an incident in our Mountain Home store involving the current issue of US Weekly Magazine depicting Elton John, David Furnish and their newborn son. I would like to explain how this happened. For many years we have provided each of our stores with shields which can be used at the manager’s discretion to cover the front of magazines when they receive complaints from our customers regarding either the photo on the cover of the magazine or the titles of articles contained within the magazine. Sometimes those photos might be sexually provocative or too revealing. The magazine article titles might also be too suggestive for some customers.

“In this case our store manager received some complaints and, as has been our custom, placed the shield over the cover of the magazine. When we began receiving complaints at our corporate office, we reviewed the magazine in question, removed the shield and are selling the magazine in all our locations today without any shield.

“Our true intention is not to offend anyone in our stores and this incident happened at just one of our 65 locations, which when brought to our attention, we reversed.”
KC's View:
Lesson number one is that even a single move by one store manager can instantly become a much bigger deal because of the internet. You may not like it, but there isn’t much you can do about it. One of the things you have to tell your people is that they have to factor this kind of thinking into their decision-making process.

Lesson number two, I think, is this. When I was a kid, if I saw a sign saying that it was there to protect me from seeing something, the first thing I would do is look behind the sign. (I once got into trouble during a class trip to FDR’s home at Hyde Park, NY, when I went up the stairs past a sign saying “do not enter” because I was curious what they did not want me to see.) I would expect no less of my children.

There are a lot worse things kids could see than picture of two people in a committed relationship raising a family.