Man Burns Down Adult Store to Stamp Out Pornography

This happened where I grew up, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A man carrying an axe set an adult store on fire and burned it to the ground in a deluded effort to eradicate pornography. Thankfully, no one was there because the bad weather had kept the shop closed that day.

Kalamazoo police say the suspect who set the fire that destroyed an adult store did it in an effort to eliminate pornography from his neighborhood.

The fire broke out at Hollywood Nights on S. Westnedge near Whites Road late Wednesday afternoon. By the time it was out, the building had been leveled. A man who was seen by witnesses leaving the scene of the fire carrying an ax was later arrested after leading police on a brief car chase and then crashing.

Police sources identified the suspect as Mitchell Hapner, 41, of Kalamazoo.

He allegedly admitted to the arson. Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said the suspect told investigators he was trying to eradicate porn.

That makes sense. It’s not like he could burn down the internet, could he? This story kind of resonates with me because I might have become that guy. My first foray into political activism was when I was maybe 15 years old and I went to the Kalamazoo County Commission (or the township board, I don’t remember which now) and testified in front of them to urge them not to grant a license to an adult video store. I was a good little budding theocratic authoritarian.

Also a hypocrite, of course, because I had some dirty magazines in my room. The punchline is that I got them from a church youth group newspaper drive. Someone dropped off several bags of dirty magazines and the boys split them up and took them home. After I went off to college, my stepmother found a couple of them hidden in my room and made my dad burn them.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
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  • grumpyoldfart

    It reminds me of an incident about 25 years ago when an old church caught fire on Prospect Road in Adelaide (South Australia). When firemen search the building after the flames were put out, they discovered it was packed full of pornographic magazines – tens of thousands of them! We all thought we were onto a big scandal but it turns out the church was no longer operating and the building had been rented out as a commercial storeroom.

  • http://timgueguen.blogspot.com timgueguen

    I wonder if this guy has heard of the Squamish Five. One of the things these left wing Canadian radicals did in 1982 is take part in firebombings of several BC porn shops. This was after they used a bomb to attack Litton Industries in Toronto, which was making parts for US cruise missiles.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Back in the ’90s, a porn store opened in a rather conservative town down here in Florida, much to the delight of the local professional anti-abortion leader. He promptly announced (close to verbatim) in his newsletter that he would –

    … protest the baby-killing clinics by day and come against the pornography centers by night!

  • StevoR

    Pierce R. Butler : LOL! Did he actually know what he was saying there and listen to himsefl?

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    The porn shops should use religious zealots against each other. Just keep a Koran in the store, so if the store is burned down, the fanatical Muslims can hunt down the fanatical Christian(s). Circle of Life, or something.

  • sundiver

    Pierce R Butler and StevoR: Remember the bit George Carlin did where he quoted some anti-porn crusader? Can’t recall the whole screed but it started, “It is our aim to prick holes in the stiff front erected by the smut dealers” and goes on a while in that vein. I really think these guys actually get off on hate, and just can’t help but commit the double entendres.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Yet another competitive disadvantage faced by bricks-and-mortar bookstores in the Internet age.

    Just keep a Koran in the store, so if the store is burned down, the fanatical Muslims can hunt down the fanatical Christian(s).

    Nah, the Muslims would have just burned down the porn shop first. And the Pope would have said it served them right, and most other sex-hating Christians would have quietly agreed.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    Yet another devout evangelical Christian family man pissed that he still cannot get Lesbian Sex Kittens, Volume 5.

  • Alverant

    I won’t be holding my breath for terrorism charges to be brought. And yes, it is terrorism since it is violence with a political/religious motive against civilians. I expect no one will call it terrorism because of who the target was and his own religious views. No doubt some “patriots” will consider him a hero.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    No, there should NOT be terrorism charges, unless the perp knew there were people inside at the time, and intended to harm them, or threaten them with harm.

    “Terrorism” is a very strong word, and it’s being weakened by dishonest overuse. The mere destruction of property should not be considered “terrorism;” otherwise people who try to, say, interfere with illegal whaling by inflicting damage on whaling ships, or to stop overfishing by fouling nets, would be considered the equal of al Qaeda.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    After I went off to college, my stepmother found a couple of them hidden in my room and made my dad burn them.

    What, you didn’t give them back to the next “newspaper drive?” That would have been both honest and economical. (And what’s the point of a “newspaper drive” that accepts indiscriminate donations of old material? Is that a misnomer or something?)

  • dingojack

    Would it be uncharitable to wish the moron had been ‘hoisted by his own petard’?

    After all ‘we had to burn the village idiot in order to save him’.

    @@

    Dingo

  • John Pieret

    It adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “burning desire,” doesn’t it?

  • Synfandel

    Now they just have flaming porn.

  • magistramarla

    I hope that the adult store had good insurance and rebuilds with a bigger and better store in the same location.

    I will never understand spouses (usually wives) who want to deny porn magazines to their husbands (or adult sons for that matter). I have the latest edition of Playboy next to me on the couch, and I will read it cover to cover.

    I asked to see one soon after we were married and my husband happily obliged. We curled up together to read it.

    For our first anniversary, I ordered a subscription for him, and I’ve kept it up for 38 years now. (Yeah, pun intended).

    Men are visually stimulated, and I reap the benefits of that after he looks at the magazine.

    I don’t understand women being jealous of the young women in the magazines. He will never see them in person, but he will be spending the night with me!

    Oh, and a shopping trip to an adult store can be lots of fun for a couple, too!

  • David C Brayton

    I am positive that the second photograph ever taken in all of history was of the photographer’s junk.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    @David C. Brayton

    Considering that there was a lot of pornographic graffitti in Pompei porn has been around for a very long time. And it’ll be around for even longer. Considering, too, that levels of porn consumption seem to correlate with levels of religiousity, it’s not going away.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    Yet another devout evangelical Christian family man pissed that he still cannot get Lesbian Sex Kittens, Volume 5.

    Are you serious? Everyone knows that Volume 5 totally sucks (and not in a good way). The best in the series is without a doubt Volume 3. If you don’t believe me just ask modusoperandi.

  • http://onhandcomments.blogspot.com/ left0ver1under

    Ed’s comments remind me of the old “Four Religious Truths” joke:

    1. muslims do not recognize jews as god’s chosen people.

    2. jews do not recognize jesus as the messiah.

    3. protestants do not recognize the pope as the leader of the christian world.

    4. southern baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.

    —–

    Raging Bee (#10) –

    No, there should NOT be terrorism charges, unless the perp knew there were people inside at the time, and intended to harm them, or threaten them with harm.

    Terrorism is an overused word and charges of it often overinflated (re: the RCMP recently labelling anti-oil environmentalists as “terrorists”) But where is the line drawn? Did the arsonist really know the building was empty? What if the owner or an employee was using the weather closure as an opportunity to take inventory, and was trapped and killed during the fire?

    The attack on that store is reminiscent of bombings at aborition clinics. Someone who phones in a bomb threat before detonating may tell everyone to leave, but that doesn’t guarantee everyone will or can leave in time, or will leave at all (re: hoax threats).

  • felidae

    Just curious–what was his blood alcohol level when he was arrested?

  • dingojack

    The problem with arson can be the unintended consequences:(

    Dingo

  • http://essaressellwye.tumblr.com Hershele Ostropoler

    17:

    Considering that there was a lot of pornographic graffitti in Pompeii porn has been around for a very long time.

    And what happened to Pompeii? Destroyed by fire. So there you go.