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August 1, 2007
Column #1,353
Advance for Aug. 4 2007
You, Too Can Fight Pornography
by Mike McManus

Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media, recently wrote a letter to J.W. "Bill" Marriot Jr., a prominent Mormon, to protest the availability of hardcore pornography in Marriott Hotels. If more of us would follow his example, there would be less pornography.

He wrote that he avoided staying at Marriott Hotels, "despite their quality and affordability, because Marriott Hotels is a major distributor of hardcore pornography on its pay-TV channels."  However, in visiting a family member, she reserved a Marriott room.

While checking in, he noticed that four  types of movies were available: Comedy, Drama, Action and Adventure. "Hallelujah," he thought, "no porn." He made a mental note to write Bill Marriott to thank him. 

However, before checking out, he clicked on "Menu Options."  There he found not only a link to "Hollywood Movies" but also an "Adults Only" link touting such titles as  "Horny Housewife Auditions," etc.

Peters wrote, "You should be aware that distribution of such materials 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 `hardcore' sexual conduct are `subject to prosecution for the sale or exposure of obscene materials.'"

Ironically, Morality in Media once gave an award to Bill Marriott's father for his efforts to fight pornography. His son, however, decided to accept the income that porn channels pay.  Similarly, General Motors, whose car sales have faltered, has a new revenue stream from its Direct TV that carries obscenity.

Therefore, Peters warned Marriott, "Morality In Media is of the opinion that a criminal prosecution of a `mainstream' corporation that is in the business of distributing hardcore pornography is long overdue."

To drive his point home, Robert Peters released his letter to the press last week.

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 (Marriott Drive, Washington DC 20058)?  You could say, as did Peters:

"It is my earnest hope 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." Any loss of customers addicted to pornography "will be more than offset by the gain in customers who want to stay in nice but also pornography free hotels." You could pledge to stay in porn-free Best Western Hotels.

The good news is that every state and the federal government have laws to protect the public against this filth. The sad news is that so few citizens complain that prosecutors concentrate their energies on other crimes.

In 1986 U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese released his "Final Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography." As one of few reporters covering its hearings, I wrote columns about the Commission's difficulty in coming to any conclusion.

The Commission had only four conservatives (Dr. James Dobson), three liberals (Ellen Levine, then editor Woman's Day) and four middle-of-the-roaders. At one point, the Commission voted 5-4 that the graphic material was "not harmful" to families.

Stunned, I wrote a column noting the "Commission could not agree if it was harmful, for example, for films to depict graphic portrayals of fornication, of orgies involving a number of men and women, of homosexuals doing fellatio on one another, or of incest."

I provided the names and addresses of the "libertarians" and suggested that readers note that "Alaska and Nevada residents buy five times as many porn magazines as North Dakota, and have a rape rate six times higher. More coincidence? Nonsense," I argued. "An FBI study of 37 murderers confessing multiple killings found 29 used hardcore and soft-core porn to fuel their anticipatory fantasy."

That column sparked 1,000 letters, according to the Commission's staff. At the next Commission meeting, Dr. Park Dietz, a psychiatrist and professor of law at the University of Virginia, acknowledged the letters prompted him to switch his vote:

"In the citizen mail, the concerns were overwhelmingly in the direction of asking us "to do something about the problem." When he voted that the material was "predominantly harmful" all other liberals and moderates who voted wrong, switch sides, making it unanimous!

Your letters can make a difference. If you don't complain, you are the problem.

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