SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Hotel pay-per-view and internet provider LodgeNet is standing firm against an anti-porn campaign that charges the company with trafficking in "obscenity".
Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values (CCV) launched the public attack on LodgeNet with radio spots, a website and a billboard decrying the company for offering adult movies as part of its services to hotel chains. CCV head Phil Burress (a self-described "former porn addict" - a.k.a. hypocrite) has marshaled support from South Dakota family-values groups in his attempt to pressure LodgeNet into ceasing distribution of adult pay-per-view movies.
"CCV confuses its own taste with what the law allows," LodgeNet stated in a press release. "CCV and its supporters apparently believe that they have the right to threaten to use the law to deprive others of their preferred programming choices. As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has noted, 'self-assurance has always been the hallmark of a censor.' In this matter, CCV and its supporters are very self-assured indeed that they are in the best position to make programming choices for everyone else. However, that is not how our system works."
Indeed, it has been very clearly established by the courts that government control over citizens' private entertainment choices is extremely limited, and that it is unconstitutional to ban adult material from being sold.
"The genius of our constitutional system is that it supports individual choice over government coercion," LodgeNet stated. "The law upholds the ability of individuals to make their own choices, without interference by outside groups. As the Supreme Court recently noted, the Constitution says that 'these judgments are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority.'"
LodgeNet director of corporate communications Ann Parker said that CCV began this attack without ever contacting the company. CCV took out a full-page ad in the Wednesday edition of the Argus Leader, the local paper in Sioux Falls, where LodgeNet's corporate headquarters are located, containing an "open letter to the LodgeNet Board of Directors and Executive Management."
Burress is calling for a federal investigation of LodgeNet on obscenity charges. LodgeNet pointed out that its programming is no different than any other cable or satellite provider, and that its systems offer the option to block adult content. Individual hotels can also choose not to offer porn.
If federal authorities refuse to prosecute LodgeNet, Burress says his group will go after the company at the state level, investigating possible violations of individual state obscenity laws.