For Minnesota Employees, No Stays in Hotels That Offer Violent Porn

Last Updated Mar 9, 2010 12:10 PM EST

Minnesota State Sen. Tarryl Clark (D-St. Cloud) is sponsoring a bill that would stop public dollars being used for state employee stays in hotels or meeting facilities that provide customers with pay-per-view violent porn. The proposal is an attempt to please advocates who want the state to stop supporting media with violence-infused sex.

So why not just make buying any pay-per-view hotel porn on a state-funded trip a firing offense? Well, Minnesota doesn't think that way. They don't have anything against pornography, per se, just the violent kind -- as evidenced by the fact that hotels showing pay-per-view nonviolent porn is OK.

According to the bill, the state's Department of Administration will keep a directory of approved hotels so employees can circumvent the porn-laden hotels, although the bill does provide an out if the employee can't find or afford a porn-free hotel. Already blogs are wondering how the department will know if porn is violent or not -- would there be a monthly listing faxed? Or would there be a screening?

As I mentioned earlier, others also wondered why have a ban on the state paying for any in-room entertainment, or staying in hotels that have pornography at all? As for the former, I don't know what states do, but they should enact a rule not paying for any in-room entertainment from the innocuous Wii to porn. As for the latter, it's pretty hard to find a hotel that doesn't have adult offerings on its system. (And if not, then all you need is WiFi and a laptop.)

I looked up the state senator's Web site, and I noticed that she was a lawyer, and married with two children. While I'm not sure about her politics or her reasoning for the bill, I do know that only a couple of years ago in 2008, a coalition of groups including the conservative Focus on the Family, met with Marriott International and asked bigwigs there to stop offering porn in hotel rooms -- to no avail.

Marriott has since been targeted by AIDS Healthcare and Pink Cross, for offering pay-per-view pornography where performers don't use condoms during sex scenes.

The argument for porn is that it brings in profits for hotels, and at least in 2002, that meant about $500 million a year.xBut by using Marriott's example, where it has faced almost a decade of criticism, few chains will change their policies because a few complaints don't cancel out dollar signs.

I get what Clark is trying to do. Despite the mumblings to the contrary, there exists a certain kind of violent pornography -- usually shot in foreign locations, and it has no business being bought or sold. That said, wouldn't it have just been easier to put hotels on notice that state employees wouldn't use their facilities unless they could proclaim themselves porn-free? Or tell employees that the state would not be footing their in-room entertainment bill?

What Clark is doing is making a stand against a kind of misogynistic pornography, which is admirable, but I'm not sure she's using the right medium to do it.


Photo: kalleboo