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Hotels and the Pornography Plague: An Example of Moral Responsibility from Scandinavia

by Robert P. George and Hamza Yusuf, Public Discourse

While many American hotel executives refuse to rid their businesses of pornography, Petter Stordalen, owner of one of Scandinavia’s largest hotel chains, is leading the way forward.
 
A bit more than a year ago, we made public here on Public Discoursea letter we had sent to the chief executive officers of our nation’s largest hotel chains, respectfully asking them to stop offering pornography in their hotel rooms. We said:
 
We are, respectively, a Christian and a Muslim, but we appeal to you not on the basis of truths revealed in our scriptures but on the basis of a commitment that should be shared by all people of reason and goodwill: a commitment to human dignity and the common good. As teachers and as parents, we seek a society in which young people are encouraged to respect others and themselves—treating no one as an impersonal object or thing. We hope that you share our desire to build such a society.
 
Pornography is degrading, dehumanizing, and corrupting. It undermines self-respect and respect for others. It reduces persons—creatures bearing profound, inherent, and equal dignity—to the status of objects. It robs a central aspect of our humanity—our sexuality—of its dignity and beauty. It ensnares some in addiction. It deprives others of their sense of self-worth. It teaches our young people to settle for the cheap satisfactions of lust, rather than to do the hard, yet ultimately liberating and fulfilling, work of love.
 
One hotel chain, Marriott, informed us that they were “phasing out” offerings of pornography in their hotel rooms. Another, Hilton, defended its participation in the pornography business by appealing, dubiously in our view, to libertarian principles. Others, so far as we can tell, have ignored our plea.
 
 
 

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