Finding a decent place to stay

Posted: Mar 23, 2007 12:01 AM
Finding a decent place to stay

“It’s so common now. Who hasn’t seen something like that?”

The speaker: a 17-year-old girl. The topic: pornography. She was quoted in a recent AP story about the rising number of kids being exposed to graphic sexual images online. In the February issue of Pediatrics, researchers at the University of New Hampshire report that 42 percent of Internet users aged 10 to 17 had seen online porn over the course of a year. The London School of Economics estimates that nine out of 10 children who go online will, at some point, be exposed to hardcore porn. (Mom and Dad, if you don’t have a filter, get one now. I recommend the excellent, affordable, easy-to-use filter from It takes only a few minutes and a few keystrokes to download.)

In our 24-hour, Internet-laced, interconnected world, it seems as if it would be easier to list the places you won’t encounter pornography. Years ago, its lowlife customer base had to seek it out, under a brown wrapper or in the seedy section of town. Now, porn peddlers seek you out -- at video stores, on billboard ads that line interstate highways, on television, at the newsstand, in your e-mail inbox.

And, of course, there’s the hotel room. Hard-core sex material is often discovered just by flipping through the channels while looking for the local weather report. Many other hotels make a killing by peddling trashy porn movies that can be discreetly billed to one’s account.

We must not acquiesce in the pornification of our culture. We shouldn’t meekly retreat into the progressively smaller corners we’re so graciously allowed to inhabit. It’s time to fight back.

When it comes to hotel rooms, I have a suggestion: The next time you’re booking a place to stay, check out Simply type in your destination, and CleanHotels provides a list of all the porn-free hotels in the area. Select one of these hotels each time you travel and send a strong message to hotels that care more about making a cheap buck than they do about decency. In other words, let your money do the talking -- it’s one language all merchants understand.

Hotel porn is big business. Remember that that next time you hear the smut peddlers demonizing the “Christian Right” and wrapping themselves in the flag. What they really care about is their precious bottom line. They made about $1.6 billion from their adult pay-per-view and video-on-demand businesses in 2006, according to Kagan Research, a California-based media consulting group. That’s up from $593 million in 1996.

Small wonder that porn producers don’t look too kindly upon Phil Burress, the man behind CleanHotels. Unfortunately for them, they’re dealing with a smart and principled opponent. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Phil for many years, and he’s about the gutsiest, most tender-hearted person I’ve ever met. He works hard to protect kids, and his many initiatives and victories as president of Citizens for Community Values qualify him, in my book, for “Man of the Year.”

Because Phil is such a tireless fighter, he doesn’t merely list the hotels that refuse to show pornographic films. He leads a coalition of community groups that encourage the hotel chains that do offer such films to drop them. He also urges folks like you to report hotels that peddle smut.

Why should you care if you aren’t going to view the garbage? For one thing, pornography often proves highly addictive and contributes to many other problems that plague society, from divorce and domestic violence to prostitution and organized crime. In a paper presented to a special U.S. Senate subcommittee, Jill Manning, a social scientist and former visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, highlighted pornography’s many devastating harms, which are documented in a huge body of peer-reviewed research.

Another itsy-bitsy item to consider regarding sleaze-inns and whore-tels that peddle perversion: Do you really want to room next to a guy who’s just consumed hardcore sleaze? Do you want your wife or daughter walking by his door, or bumping into him in the elevator?

Fortunately, many hotels have opted out of the pornography business.

Omni Hotels is one of the biggest chains to care more about civility than dirty dollars. “We have had over 50,000 messages of support,” spokeswoman Kim Blackmon said. Among them was a traveling businessman who wrote: “Thanks for the taking away the temptation.”

The next time you plan to travel, use your wallet to cast a vote for decency. Visit and support the chains that care enough about their customers to realize that cleanliness means more than fresh sheets and a mint on your pillow.