AMERICA’S DIRTIEST ORGANIZATIONS: Include HBO & Their ‘Game of Thrones’ Porn, Amnesty & Our Own Justice Department

hbo-game-of-thrones-nudity-e1456413962746Shame. (HBO)

Quarz Written by Adam Epstein on February 25, 2016

Who are the biggest contributors to sexual exploitation in the United States? Not who you’d expect.

Today (Feb. 25) the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) released its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of “mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation.” This year’s offenders include HBO, Amazon, and Snapchat, as well as those well-known purveyors of filth the American Library Association, Amnesty International, and the US Department of Justice.

HBO—and Game of Thrones, specifically—was singled out by NCOSE executive director Dawn Hawkins in a press release. Hawkins criticized HBO’s “penchant for intentionally intermixing interesting plots with scenes of graphic nudity, sexual violence, rape, and incest,” causing pop culture and porn culture to become “synonymous.” The American Library Association got cited for encouraging public-access computers to stay unfiltered, “thereby allowing patrons, including children, to view illegal, obscene material.”

Established in 1962 by an assorted group of clergymen, the non-profit NCOSE was originally called Morality in Media before changing its name last year. While it’s not officially part of an American political party, it’s closely aligned with conservatives. In 2012, it publicly supported the Republican presidential platform that would have “vigorously enforced” obscenity laws. The group has also praised the Family Research Council, a noted anti-LGBT lobby group that preaches “family values.” Much of its funding comes from socially conservative philanthropists and foundations.

NCOSE famously went after Fifty Shades of Grey, the popular romantic film that depicts scenes of BDSM, arguing that its R-rating did not go far enough in warning viewers that the film “glamorizes and legitimizes violence against women.” But that doesn’t mean it’s universally beloved by feminists. Some women’s groups, like Feminists for Free Expression in the US and Feminists Against Censorship in the UK, opposed NCOSE’s crusade against pornography. And it’s arguably fighting a losing battle to change American society, though it did declare victory when Google stopped running porn ads in 2014.

NCOSE remains undeterred. It rebranded from “Morality in Media,” it says, in order to “better describe the organization’s scope and mission, which is to expose the seamless connection between all forms of sexual exploitation.” Its website argues that over the last few decades, pornography has normalized sexual exploitation:
[P]ornography users, who often start out as teenagers, grow up to become individuals who work as librarians, law enforcement officers, lawyers, judges, reporters, corporate executives, and Hollywood screen writers, etc […] The evidence of this is all around us. From fashion magazines, the offerings of cable television and Internet service providers, popular entertainment, the “sexting” phenomenon, to the local grocery store checkout isle, American culture has been porned and this is unacceptable.

For what it’s worth, some companies earned “victories” from NCOSE for actively taking steps toward eliminating pornography. Comcast, for instance, improved parental control settings for its cable service. Facebook increased efforts to block and report child pornography. And Verizon—which also appears on the “Dirty Dozen” list—removed some “child-themed” and “slavery-themed” movie titles from FiOS TV.

Here’s the full “Dirty Dozen,” and reasons why NCOSE indicted them:

Amazon, for distributing pornography and “sadomasochistic paraphernalia,” exposing children to sexually explicit images and content “with incest, rape, and child themes” with the Kindle e-reader, and for Amazon Web Services hosting pornography and prostitution websites.

American Library Association, for encouraging public-access computers to stay unfiltered, “thereby allowing patrons, including children, to view illegal, obscene material.”

Amnesty International, for supporting the decriminalization of prostitution, which “normalizes sexual violence and exploitation.”

Cosmopolitan Magazine, for hyper-sexualizing fashion and glamorizing “public, anal, and violent sex.”

The Department of Justice, for “refusing to enforce existing federal obscenity laws against pornography.”

HBO, for “providing increasingly graphic depictions of pornography and sexual violence as entertainment,” most notably in Game of Thrones.

“Sexpresso” Coffee Shops, for having “pornified working conditions” that “result in frequent sexual harassment of staff, have been associated with indecent exposure and prostitution, and are an affront to public decency and health.”

Snapchat, for being “frequently used for sexting and the sharing of child sexual abuse images.”

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, for initially selling hardcore pornography via on-demand TV offerings, but then—here’s a twist—the hotel chain was removed from the list after eliminating porn from all of its hotels.

Verizon, for profiting from “sexual exploitation each year through pay-per-view movies and dedicated pornography channels on its Fios TV services, as an Internet service provider, and wireless carrier.”

YouTube, for being “a place where pornography and other explicit content is easily accessed and often promoted.”

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