Morality in Media Responds to ICANN Move to Expand Top-level Domains

Tom Hymes
NEW YORK — The social conservative group Morality in Media (MiM) has issued a statement in response to the decision by the ICANN Board of Directors to open up the top-level domain space that hints at a slight change in its previous position opposing a .XXX TLD.

The statement, titled "Launching a .XXX Domain Through ICANN's Backdoor, Instead of its Front Door, Won't Protect Kids or Society from Hardcore Pornography," was issued June 27. Despite the decisive title, the first sentence reads, "If a .XXX domain is destined to come into existence, perhaps it is better that it be just one of countless new domains, than one of the very few officially authorized by ICANN."

Readers will recall that a national letter-writing campaign organized by the religious right in 2005 led to about 6000 missives being sent to ICANN and the U.S. Government expressing opposition to the sponsored .XXX application submitted by ICM Registry.

That letter-writing campaign led ultimately to the accusation by ICM that the Commerce Department, which oversees the Internet's root servers and the contract with ICANN, was influenced by the President's presumed conservative base and proceeded to pressure ICANN and member countries to stall and finally reject its application.

Several members of the ICANN Board specifically addressed the issue of outside influence during the final vote last year, and denied any successful interference with their own votes.

ICM has filed FOIA requests with the U.S. government in an attempt to prove its allegations, has threatened a lawsuit and recently filed an internal appeal with ICANN, seeking a restitution of its application and other remedies.

Friday's announcement by MiM president Robert Peters calls on ICANN to reject any sexually-suggestive TLDs under a proposed process that will assess new TLD applications based on "public morality and order," and states that the organization's previous reasons for opposing the sponsored application still stand for "a .XXX domain launched through ICANN's new 'back door,' where ICANN would see no evil whatsoever."

The statement then lists various reasons why MIM believes sexually-oriented websites and TLD are detrimental to society and morality, culminating in the statement, "If the .XXX domain is eventually launched through ICANN's back door, what will be promoted are websites offering hardcore pornographic materials that depict, among other things: pseudo child porn, gang bangs, group sex, unsafe sex, sex with barely legal teens, sex with siblings, sex with the neighbors' wives, sex with prostitutes, sex with she-males, sex with animals, sex with excrement, male-on-male rape, and the degradation, rape, torture and murder of women."

Where the right wing group gets the impression that the adult entertainment industry produces content that depicts the torture and murder of women is unclear, but perhaps it is referring to plot lines similar to those found in many other popular forms of fiction.

Departing slightly from its full-frontal attack on adult entertainment, the final line of the MiM statement takes a side-swipe at hip-hop culture, stating, "On a related matter, one wonders whether the .ho name will pass the arbitration panel's public morality and order test and if so, whether it will be awarded to a rapper, radio shock jock, prostitute, or pimp."