By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The third annual version of Morality in Media’s “Dirty Dozen” sexual exploiters in media was unveiled Jan. 21 at the organization’s Washington headquarters.
Among the repeat offenders was Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the American Library Association, Verizon, Facebook, YouTube, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book and movie about sexual violence toward women, the growing phenomenon of “sex week” on college campuses and Cosmopolitan magazine. Making their first appearance on the list were the U.S. Department of Justice, American Apparel, Backpage.com and CKE Restaurants.
American Apparel was cited for its advertising, which features “sexually exploitative” poses of models wearing the company’s clothing, said Dawn Hawkins, Morality in Media’s executive director. She said it is possible change will take place at American Apparel, which ousted its CEO, Dov Charney, last June, amid reports of sexual harassment of employees and subordinates.
Hawkins added there were two others on the list that have been in talks with Morality in Media to clean up what the organization considers objectionable practices. She said she was “not at liberty to say” which two they were.
Patrick Trueman, Morality in Media president, said the organization will soon change its name to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, as its activities and initiatives reflect the new name’s emphasis.
Pornography and Indecency
Founded in 1962, Morality in Media describes itself as the leading national organization opposing pornography and indecency by educating the public and urging vigorous enforcement of the law.
Among reasons the organization gave for repeat offenders on its list include the hardcore pornography movie choices it said Hilton Hotels & Resorts offers to its guests. Facebook “has become a top place to trade pornography,” it said, and the American Library Association encourages public libraries to keep their computers unfiltered.
Newcomer CKE Restaurants operates the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s hamburger chains. Morality in Media cited CKE for extreme sexually suggestive content in its print and TV ads. As long as 10 years ago, Paris Hilton was touting Carl’s Jr. on TV by wearing a provocative swimsuit while she washed a Bentley. She crawled over the wet vehicle, then bit into a Carl’s Jr. burger and said her signature phrase, “That’s hot.”
Carl Karcher, who founded Carl’s Jr. in 1941 and died in 2008 at age 90, “would be horrified” to see what was being done at his company, said Trueman. Karcher was a prominent Catholic in California and a donor to Americans United for Life, he said.
YouTube made the list for the many sexually explicit videos posted onto the site. Hawkins said YouTube does not police its site but instead depends on individuals to do the policing. “That forces you to watch the video, give time stamps (of explicit content) and tell them why it’s wrong,” she said.
Hawkins added YouTube’s parent company, Google, had made the list previously for posting ads for sexually exploitative businesses but had since changed its ways after talks with Morality in Media. She said based on that, she was hopeful YouTube can be similarly cleaned up.
Backpage.com was put on the list for its advertising by individuals hoping to make money by trafficking in sexually exploited women and children. “They’ve cornered 80 percent of the market” for ads that engage in such trafficking, Hawkins said.
Verizon made the Dirty Dozen list again, despite efforts from the phone and telecommunications giant to get off the list. Morality in Media had complained about sexually exploitative titles being available from Verizon, especially through its high- speed FIOS service. “A check last week showed that the titles were right back there again,” according to Hawkins.
The Defense Department, which sold sex-related items at its base commissaries, got off the list after working with Morality in Media.
But the Justice Department made the list for what Hawkins said was its “repeated refusal” to prosecute obscenity cases. Hawkins noted that the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder had successfully prosecuted one case in Los Angeles that had been left over by his predecessor, Michael Mukasey.