Civil Rights And Hotel Porn, Ctd

Jul 11 2012 @ 12:15pm

A reader dissents:

I'm very much for personal economic and sexual freedom and staunchly oppose any law that attempts to curtail such liberties.  However, this campaign to "ban" hotel porn seems to be, to borrow Douglas Adams, mostly harmless.  In their letter, Sirs George and Yusuf explicitly state that they're not campaigning for a change in the law or (as the American Family Association does) boycott an owner's service.  They simply ask them to do the right thing.  Without getting into a debate about the ethics and morals of pornography, this seems to be a tactic that you favor for other "culture war" issues like abortion.  In North Carolina and other parts of the South, a lot of businesses operate on moral principals that make no financial sense (BBQ restaurants not selling alcohol, Chik-Fil-A being closed on Sundays are the first ones that come to my mind).  And as a left-leaning orthodox Christian, that seems perfectly appropriate to me, as do appeals to business owners' hearts and minds.  Additionally, thanks to the availability of wireless internet and smart phones, I would imagine that the market for on-demand smut has declined in recent years.

Finally, I really hope that the "we shall overcome" reference was intended as a pun.  If so, good shot.

Shifting gears, another notes that "the Mormon Marriotts were the largest purveyors of porn in the US – until last year." Another elaborates:

Your post reminded me of a story I was told in a Corporate Finance class.  The story goes something like this …

J. Willard Marriott was the Mormon founder of the Marriott Hotel chain.  He grew the chain throughout his life and was phenomenally successful.  Fast forward to the 1970s/'80s when the technology to broadcast pornography in the hotel rooms became available and very profitable.  This advancement caused some distress for J. Willard Marriott because he would be at a competitive disadvantage by not offering a service that other hotel chains.  Being a man of strong moral fiber, he decided to not provide this service. 

Fast forward to 1993. The company is struggling to make a profit and has a large debt burden, and the company splits into Marriott International and Host Marriott Corporation.  This was done because it separated the management of the service with the management of the assets, or the profitable part of the company with the unprofitable part of the company.  It also pushed all of the debt into the unprofitable spinoff, and it was allegedly done with the expectation of bankruptcy (bond values dropped 30% on the news).   This devoutly Mormon entrepreneur was "moral" enough to keep porn out of his hotels, yet was completely fine with fucking over anyone who lent him money. 

By 2000, Marriott had eventually added the service and it was one of the big profit drivers for the company until this year's election.  Marriott turned off the service because of the upcoming election would have a high-profile Mormon with shaky support from the Christian right wing.  I would have say that it is quite a contribution from his fellow Mormons. 

Theological morality and business are not without their ironies.