A View from Riverside Drive, Commentary by Ed Hynes, August2007
You can do something important today, right now, for the cause of decency in our world.
Just pick up a pen and paper and write a letter to J.W. “Bill” Marriott and ask him to stop offering hardcore pornography on pay-per-movie television sets in the guest rooms of his hotels. His address:
Mr. J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr.
Chairman and CEO of Marriott International
Washington, DC 20058
With thousands of Marriott hotels showing movies like “Horny Housewives Auditions” and “Dorm Room Bang-A-Thon” the Marriott chain is a major contributor to the highly sexualized tone of popular culture, to the harmful effects pornography has on individuals and families, and to the stimulation of demand for sex that drives the criminal global trade in trafficked women and children.
A pay-per-view menu offering pornographic movies during his stay at a Marriott last May prompted Morality in Media President Robert Peters to send Bill Marriott a letter of protest on July 18.
Bob wrote, “. . . what I found was not only a link to ‘Hollywood Movies’ but also to ‘Adults Only.’ There was a ‘Must Be 18 To Enter’ warning, but proof of age was not required to proceed and view film titles (with pictorial/written promotional material) like these:
“Reign of Tera 2” (“hardcore action”)
“Lesbian Secretary” (“hardcore”)
“Hardcore POV” (“This is hardcore point of view”)
“Rock Hard Porn: Young Sluts”
“100% Sex: Sophomore Sluts”
“Dorm Room Bang-A-Thon” (“We found the sweetest sluts…and screwed the decency out of them”)
“Crazy Campus Sluts”
“Hustlers Barely Legal #60”
“Hustlers Desperate House Tramps”
“Horny Housewife Auditions”
“All Sex: XXX fantasies” (“imagine your raunchiest, dirtiest, fantasies come to life”)
Bob pointed out the sad irony that Marriott “is the only major chain whose founder (your father) was honored by Morality in Media. . . for his efforts to fight pornography.”
How times have changed.
If you say you are not an arbiter of morals or of good taste and that you are just giving many of your customers what they want, you really should be ashamed of yourself.
You should also be aware that distribution of such materials, among other things, contributes to the breakup of marriages, to prostitution, to sexual assaults against both children and adults, to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and to the erosion of decency.
You should also be aware that in the 1973 Miller v. California obscenity case the Supreme Court said that persons who traffic in materials that “depict or describe patently offensive ‘hard core’ sexual conduct” are “subject to prosecution for the sale or exposure of obscene materials.”
Morality in Media, among many others, is of the opinion that a criminal prosecution of a “mainstream” corporation that is in the business of distributing hardcore pornography is long overdue.
It is my earnest hope, however, that even after so many years of ignoring complaints about the sale of pornography in your hotels, you will yet do the right thing for your family, church and nation.
I would expect that any loss of customers who decide to stay elsewhere because they are addicted to pornography will be more than offset by the gain in customers who want to stay in nice but also pornography free hotels. Your own conscience should also rest much easier.
Bob released his letter to the press.
In his “Ethics & Religion” column for August 4, Mike McManus wrote, “A Marriott PR man called Peters to say that the decision was a corporate one, not a personal decision by Bill Marriott. Nonsense. Surely he has influence. What if readers of this column added their voices by writing Bill Marriott?”
“Your letters can make a difference,” Mr. McManus wrote, citing his own experience to support the point. “If you don’t complain, you are the problem.”
Indeed. So would we all.
The Senate commerce committee has approved a bill that would, if enacted, counter a federal court decision on broadcast indecency.
In early June, a 2-1 vote by three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York decided, in effect, that it is OK to say the words “f*ck” and “sh*t” in broadcast television and radio, as long as you don’t say them more than once (or perhaps twice) in a program.
The case involved two live broadcasts by Fox in which guests uttered those words. The Federal Communications Commission found that the broadcasts violated the broadcast indecency law and fined Fox. Fox went to court, challenging the Commission’s authority to fine broadcasters for “fleeting” indecency.
“Fu*k” and “sh*t” were among the taboo words in comedian George Carlin’s monologue about “seven dirty words you can’t say on TV and radio.” The incongruous fact was that Carlin’s monologue was broadcast on radio, until the Supreme Court, in its 1978 Pacifica decision, affirmed the FCC’s finding that the broadcast was indecent. Morality in Media provided key assistance to the citizens who brought that landmark case to trial.
Now, 29 years later, the Court of Appeals panel in New York says the FCC is “divorced from reality.” They did not directly say that of the Supreme Court.
In response to the June 4 court decision in New York, the Senate Commerce Committee on July 19 approved a bill (S. 1780, the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act) that would confirm the FCC’s authority to fine TV and radio broadcasters for airing even single-word or image indecencies.
The bill was introduced by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark). Co-sponsors included the committee chairman, Sen. Daniel Inouye, (D-Hawaii), and the ranking Republican, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement that members of Congress “stated once again what we on the Commission and every parent already knows; even a single word or image can indeed be indecent.”
More than half of adult Americans apparently would agree. A poll by Harris Interactive for Morality in Media found that 52% of adult Americans say the FCC should have authority to fine any of the major broadcast TV networks for airing a single expletive or “four letter word.” Morality in Media released the poll findings on July 12.
It will be interesting to see what the full Senate and the House of Representatives do with the Rockefeller bill.
The FCC is considering its options regarding the appeals court decision.
A regional anti-pornography campaign was launched in southern Indiana/northern Kentucky July 26 with a press conference under a campaign billboard at an off-ramp of Interstate 65 in Clarksville, Indiana, a small town outside Louisville, Kentucky. The billboard is across the street from equally large signs advertising a porn shop and theater.
The event was staged by ROCK, Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana, which is an alliance of religious, business and education leaders. Rock was founded in 2004. Several dozen people attended the press conference, including government and law enforcement officials.
In its July 27 story about the press conference, the Louisville Courier-Journal said, “ROCK is planning to offer information to civic, church and community leaders, and services for people who are in or affected by sex-related businesses.”
The paper reported that Rock President Bryan Wickens “said sex-related businesses diminish property values, increase crime and lead to the exploitation of children, among other ills.”
Kerry Stemler, chairman of the Clark and Floyd counties’ chamber of commerce and economic development council, added, “We need … an economy that our children and grandchildren will want to be a part of,” the paper reported.
ROCK has a Web site: www.reclaimourculture.org
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported June 29 that the city of Daytona Beach “won a full-frontal victory from a federal appeals court in Atlanta when the court upheld its zoning and nudity ordinances.” A federal district court had ruled in January 2006 that the city’s nudity laws were unconstitutional because they violated the free speech rights of dancers at adult clubs, clearing the way for dancers to perform in the nude. Now the city will require that they wear “conservative bikinis.”
The Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa, included this encouraging note in its presidential campaign coverage “In several stops, [Governor Mitt] Romney stressed the importance of enforcing obscenity laws, getting tough on retailers who sell violent video games to kids and education to reduce the number of unwed mothers.”http://www.spencerdailyreporter.com/story/1232525.html
In Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 18, Governor Romney stressed his intention to “enforce our obscenity laws, which we haven’t done for a long time. . . . Instead of teaching about sex education in kindergarten to five-year-olds, let’s clean up the ocean of filth, the cesspool in which our kids are swimming. . . . I’m very concerned about the Internet and the porn that comes into people’s homes, into kids’ faces, even when they didn’t request it – even if they requested it, I don’t like it, but just having it come in unanticipated is an outrage. I’d like to find a way to end that if we can technologically and legally.”
Author: Ed Hynes 08/01/2007