Jim Goad’s ANSWER Me! Zine

Date: 1995

Region: United States

Subject: Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Self-Published Magazine

Artist: Jim and Debbie Goad

Confronting Bodies: City court of Bellingham, WA

Dates of Action: 1995

Location: Bellingham, Whatcom County, WA, United States

Description of Artwork: Portland couple Jim and Debbie Goad used their home computer to conceptualize, create, and publish ANSWER Me! zine, putting out one issue annually, beginning in 1991. The zine included sexually explicit cartoon content, as well as articles on such subjects as sexual abuse, serial killers, and misanthropy. The now-notorious 1994 "Rape Issue" featured provocative artwork by Trevor Brown, rape stories told from the perspective of the rapist (including one where the victim has Down's syndrome), a pull-out addition entitled "The Rape Game," and images of decapitated women.

The Incident: ANSWER Me! issue 4 (the "Rape Issue," published in 1994) was being sold at The Newsstand, a magazine store in Bellingham owned by Ira Stohl and Kristina Hjelsand. After a complaint was filed with the city, the two stood trial for the distribution of potentially obscene material. Over 3,000 residents of Bellingham signed a protest to drop the charges against The Newsstand owners, while the director of the Women's Crisis Center claimed the zine was "not just offensive, it's destructive."

Results of Incident: Stohl and Hjelsand were found to be not guilty in their joint trial. A consequent lawsuit resulted in the City of Bellingham paying over $1 million to Stohl and Hjelsand for First Amendment rights' violations and resultant emotional distress. Although the Goads did not continue to publish more issues of ANSWER Me!, AK Press produced and distributed a collection of the zines' content. It has since been added to and reissued by Scapegoat Publishing.

Source: New York Times article