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The nasty taint of porn

Published: Tuesday, July 10 2007 12:35 a.m. MDT

Pornography taints everything it touches. Mitt Romney should have understood that. So should the Marriott Corp. and other hotel owners who offer hard-core movies in hotel rooms.

Romney caught a bit of flack last week because he spent nearly 10 years on the Marriott board and yet never tried to reverse the company's policy of providing pornography on demand, something J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr., defended in a 2000 letter as being economically important. The corporation controls only a few of the hotels with its name on them.

For a presidential candidate who has railed against pornography, this is not entirely insignificant. Even if the subject never came up at a board meeting, one can argue that at least part of the $25,000 plus stock he was paid annually for his board membership came from the money some hotel guests paid for access to the films.

Make no mistake about pornography's influence on society. A recent report from the American Psychological Association drew strong ties between pornography's pervasive influence and the "sexualization" of girls and women. This, the report said, has resulted in greater societal sexism; "fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; increased rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence; and an increased demand for child pornography."

Romney seemed to understand this when he told graduates at the Christian-owned Regent University that pornography poisons "our music and movies and TV and video games."

But it is indeed lucrative.

Interestingly, several hotel chains have decided to forego the extra money out of a sense of moral obligation. The Web site cleanhotels.com helps travelers locate these. The site includes what it calls, "The Clean Hotels Pledge." Among other things, this pledge recognizes, "the addictive nature of pornography" ... "that marriages, families and careers have been devastated because individuals have developed an addiction to pornography after being lured into viewing a pornographic movie in the privacy of their hotel room," and that children can accidentally be exposed to images that "can have a lasting negative effect."

That lasting negative effect can be like the stains you get from playing with a barrel of paint. Even if you don't like the color, it tells the tale of where you've been.

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