Michael's cause of the week is "hotel room porn" - or the evil of turning on the television in a hotel room and discovering it has a porn channel.
Who is Edwina McCombs and why is she under attack? She's a Tennessee resident who was visiting California in the summer of 2006 when she booked into a Value Lodge motel with her two daughters, aged 8 and 9. Tired after a long journey, she put her little girls in front of the room's television so that they could watch a children's show while she took a quick bath.
Instead of innocent cartoons, they were immediately confronted with hardcore pornography with, according to Ms McCombs, "close-up images of people engaged in various sexual acts." The girls were traumatized and their mother is suing the motel.
Now, if you listen to Coren, it sounds as though the default channel that the television turned on to was a porn channel. This is a bit surprising - anytime I've been in a hotel, there's quite an array of options and services on the television - porn is usually on a secondary channel.
Of course, there's Coren's fantasy world, and then there's reality:
Edwina McCombs used the Value Lodge in Artesia, California on a negligence theory claiming that the motel should have told her that her children could and did view hardcore porno on the motel's television system. The girls, age 8 and 9, were flipping through the channels on the television in the room when their mother was in the bathroom when they channel-surfed for children's programming and encountered "hardcore and graphic pornography" with extreme close-ups of several sexual acts.
So, the mother hands the children the remote, and they are channel surfing. (Read: hitting whatever buttons will get a different channel). How difficult would it be to experimentally flip to the in-house "pay-for-view porn" channel? Not very. While one might reasonably be able to argue that the porn channels are too easy to get to, one should also ask themselves just what the mother was thinking? Where's her responsibility in all this? It's not news these days that there are things on television that you wouldn't want you children watching, why wouldn't she at least select a channel with her children and make sure it was appropriate viewing? (Heck - I've seen stuff on CNN I'd never show to a ten year old)
However, the case itself is merely Coren's jumping off point for a tirade about how the world's going to hell in a handbasket because hotels offer adult channels on their televisions:
It's about a fundamental shift in societal expectations and assumptions, where the freedom of some pathetic soul to play with himself while watching broken, robotic people pretending to enjoy loveless sex is considered more significant than the freedom of a mother to trust that her young children can turn on the TV and not be abused.
Again, I must ask the oh-so-obvious question - where was the mother in the picture? Oh right - having a bath, after having given her kids the remote to "find the childrens programming". What the hell did she think was going to happen - that "Friendly Giant" was going to show up on ever channel?
Added to this is the fact that many men -- yes, it's invariably men -- who take advantage of this rubbish are married and would never watch a porn channel at home. So in that way it's partly a type of adultery and certainly a form of dishonesty
Yep, the world's gonna end because some guy gets his jollies watching a badly acted porn flick. Got it. Probably a better alternative than what used to be the case - where the men would go wandering off to the local brothel to "satisfy" their urges, bringing home all sorts of interesting diseases on the way by.
What is relevant is that the rights of the international sex industry, an entity that exploits women and breaks up families, are being defended by people who seem incredibly angry that a young mother didn't want her vulnerable kids to be exposed to filth.
While I agree that children should not be exposed to this kind of material, I disagree with Coren's oh-so-moralizing stance on this matter. It is not the hotel's responsibility to "protect" the children from what's on television - that's the parent's job. Mrs. McCombs has a responsibility to at least vet what her children are watching before she gets her relaxing bath.
The world is not "going to hell" because hotels are showing porn. My parents were pretty careful to vet what I watched on TV while I was young, and as far as I know, they simply assumed it was their responsibility to do so. There's an even easier solution much of the time - don't turn the TV on unless you are in the room with your children. Sounds pretty simple to me - and much cheaper for all parties involved than a lawsuit because your children were "traumatized" by stumbling across something "objectionable".