opinion

Hoopla and Hysteria

Stephen Yagielowicz
Whether you were planning to attend it or not, you’ve likely heard about the upcoming SnowGathering in Reykjavik, Iceland, sponsored by FreeOnes.com – and you’ve also likely heard about all the commotion and uncertainty over the event’s outcome; due to local criticism about the event by a vocal group of activists.

It’s not that there’s anything unique about local demonstrators at industry gatherings (although they are not as common as they were), but the hysteria being whipped up in Iceland about the hordes of ‘child pornographers and white slave traders’ some expect to show up, and then turn the country into a Mecca of porn production, is ridiculous!

News flash, Iceland: it’s a group of dudes wanting to go snow boarding and talk shop.

But that’s not how some others see it. Stígamót, an Icelandic counseling service for victims of sexual abuse, published an open letter to the authorities, demanding that the event be prohibited, saying “[p]ornography is simply documented prostitution, and prostitution is a premise for human trafficking to thrive. In 2005, 19 women sought out Stígamót because of the consequences of prostitution. […] Pornography is prohibited in Iceland, and so is arranging prostitution. Human trafficking is also prohibited.”

Human trafficking – are they serious? You bet. They were also serious when they told authorities to use the list of attendees posted on the event website to investigate their backgrounds and identify sexual predators, child molesters and other criminals that may be trying to enter the country. How many of you want to fly into a foreign country after the authorities ran you through the system? Did your adult website violate Icelandic law? Are you sure? I know one thing; I’d make sure there was nothing on my laptop’s drives that I didn’t want the Icelandic security services to see...

Do you think this industry has a PR problem? Fortunately, folks like Scott Hjorleifson of SleazyDream.com, himself of Icelandic heritage, took the time to address the issue by providing local media with opposing viewpoints that helped cast a more realistic light on the event and its attendees – and helped to secure a ‘welcome’ venue for the event if more reasonable voices held sway.

It’s clear that despite the insane rants of those that truly believe they are doing the right thing, that society as a whole, even a conservative one, is willing to tolerate ‘legitimate’ adult entertainment – and its operators. The challenge is to be able to step up to the plate and make intelligent counterpoints to the misguided ravings of our enemies and to not simply let them pass.

UPDATE: Today, February 22, FreeOnes.com announced the cancellation of SnowGathering 2007, after the host hotel buckled under the pressure and prohibited the event from taking place there.

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