Stalking the Stakers

Tom Hymes
I guess if any industry's got it coming, this one does. One would have to be bereft of wit not to appreciate the ironic spectacle of the very lowlifes accused of stalking the nation's children winding up in the tenacious grasp of a money-hungry suitor who won't take no for an answer. Of course, I'm talking about the London Lothario, Stuart Lawley of ICM Registry, otherwise known as the .XXX guy who came for dinner and never left.

It's not as if he didn't warn us. How many times has Stuart reminded me, with his smug working-class accent, that ICM is best suited to run .XXX because "you don't want the fox guarding the henhouse"? Well, the old boy wasn't kidding, was he? This is the sort of fellow who knows what's best for you whether you bloody hell like it or not. And if you don't like it, well, you just aren't included in his definition of "the industry," are you?

This is the sort of chap who smoothes your lapel and tells you how he's going to help you while picking your pocket with the free hand. In the historical record of conflicting statements, Mr. Lawley's self-inflicted contradictions will reign supreme, and I have no sympathy for this devil. To see him squirm in failure and denounce the ICANN decision as unfair is one of the great spectacles of hypocritical audacity I have ever seen.

How dare this snake oil salesman even open his mendacious mouth to carp about the real reasons for the vote? This from the same chap who refused every step of the way to provide the openness and transparency he now demands from the U.S. government? FOIA, indeed! This guy wouldn't know the Freedom of Information Act if it slapped him upside his ruddy head. None of them would: ICANN, ICM Registry or the U.S. government. They have all played this .XXX game with an appalling lack of honesty and candor. They are in fact perfect bedfellows, and I confess to a certain disappointment that they may not be spending an eternity of sleepless nights together in a special hellish top-level domain of their own making.

I am hopeful that this whole sad episode will be over by the time this issue comes out, but I have my doubts. Some people simply do not go gently into the night. Meanwhile, by instituting preregistration of .XXX domains, the self-appointed stewards of the industry are turning their barely contained hostility onto the very people they mean to represent.

How bloody low can one get? How more desperate a signal could there be that the gloves have come off and the lover who once proclaimed his undying affection for the adult industry is more than ready to bitch slap his object of affection into submission? If this cynical ploy somehow wins out, more of this can certainly be expected from the ruthless gatekeepers at ICM Registry and their mysterious backers.

You are on notice, adult entertainment industry, big players and small: You are being "courted" by a master who will beat you into obedience if you don't play by his rules. It remains to be seen whether this industry wants that sort of tough love or not, but self-hatred (and of course greed) being what they are, I suspect that many still do.

If so, all I can say is that it will be doubly ironic if a TLD that might very well outlaw extreme sexual content is itself constructed on a foundation of mutual sadomasochism.