Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

Starbucks finally bans porn

Sexuality | Child safety advocates persisted despite the normalization of porn in today’s culture
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 12/07/18, 03:10 pm

Starbucks announced last week it will start blocking porn sites on its in-store Wi-Fi service in 2019. The move comes after years of pressure on the coffee giant to set up filters to block explicit content.

Internet safety group Enough Is Enough (EIE) launched a porn-free campaign aimed at McDonald’s and Starbucks in 2014. The group argued unfiltered Wi-Fi hotspots are safe havens for online criminals, like sexual predators and pedophiles, to operate with anonymity. They also allow people to look at pornography in plain view of the general public, including children. EIE argued both companies had effectively blocked porn at their stores in the United Kingdom and could easily implement similar plans in the United States. They would also be following in the steps of other national chains that filter their free Wi-Fi, including Panera Bread, Subway, and Chick-fil-A.

In response, McDonald’s installed filters at around 14,000 locations in early 2016. At the time, Starbucks said it was working on a plan to filter explicit content, but 2½ years later, the company had yet to take any action.

In late November, EIE announced a new petition calling on Starbucks to follow through. “By breaking its commitment, Starbucks is keeping the doors wide open for convicted sex offenders and others to fly under the radar from law enforcement and use free, public Wi-Fi services to access illegal child porn and hard-core pornography,” EIE President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes said. “Having unfiltered hotspots also allows children and teens to easily bypass filters and other parental control tools set up by their parents on their smart phones, tablets and laptops.”

Within a few days, Starbucks said it would start blocking porn. A company spokesperson announced the change to Business Insider in an email on Nov. 28: “To ensure the Third Place [in addition to home and office] remains safe and welcoming to all, we have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019.”

Hughes isn’t celebrating just yet. “They won’t get an applause until they’ve actually implemented safe Wi-Fi filtering,” she told NBC News last week, noting EIE ran a thank you campaign back in 2016 when Starbucks first said they would take action. “This time we’re going to wait and see, and we’re going to keep the pressure on.”

EIE is fighting an uphill battle amid the increasing normalization of pornography in American culture. It’s easier to get Starbucks to back paper straws than porn-free Wi-Fi.

Even the vocabulary is changing: Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, is no longer a porn star in the porn industry, she’s an adult movie actress in the adult entertainment industry. That shift is not just a change of words, “it’s a fundamental redefinition of an entire sector of our society in moral terms,” said Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member. “And this isn’t by accident.”

Indeed, a Gallup survey released in June found 43 percent of Americans think pornography is morally acceptable, up from 36 percent in 2017. Men ages 18 to 49 had the biggest jump: from 53 to 67 percent in the past year.

That might explain why one of the world’s largest free pornography websites had the audacity to respond to the Starbucks decision with a ban of its own. In a memo to his staff last week, the vice president of YouPorn banned Starbucks products from its offices, effectively fighting for the rights of people who like to watch porn in public places.

“One way or another, there has to be some reckoning for the fact that this scandal has now invaded virtually every American home,” Mohler said on his podcast, The Briefing, adding that the conversation today is about whether we can even say pornography is pornography, “much less say what we all know, and that is that pornography is evil. It is wrong, it is deadly, it distorts human sexuality, it is an assault upon human dignity.”

ADF ADF Alexis Lightcap

Standing up for privacy

A group of Pennsylvania high school students suing their school district for opening private spaces to transgender students has appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Nov. 19, the six students, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom and the Independence Law Center, asked the high court to take up their case against the Boyertown Area School District and its policy of allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their preferred gender identity.

One of the six students, all identified by pseudonyms in court documents, decided to start using her actual name after she graduated high school. Last week, she wrote an editorial for USA Today defending their lawsuit.

Alexis Lightcap, an African-American former foster child who was adopted by a white family, wrote that she knows what it’s like to come to terms with who you are and to be treated unfairly by insensitive people.

“I won’t accept anyone being bullied or discriminated against—and that absolutely includes my classmates experiencing gender dysphoria,” she wrote. “They deserve our love and support. Even so, my privacy shouldn’t depend on what others believe about their own gender. Why is it so hard for school officials to understand that young girls care about the privacy of their bodies?” —K.C.

Associated Press/Photo by Peter Dejong Associated Press/Photo by Peter Dejong Emile Ratelband answers questions in Amsterdam on Monday

Age fluidity

A court in the Netherlands on Monday rejected the arguments of a 69-year-old man claiming he should be able to self-determine his age like others self-determine their gender. The court said Dutch law assigns rights and obligations based on age, like the right to vote and the duty to attend school, things that would become meaningless if they granted Emile Ratelband’s request. But the court seemed to ignore the fact that countless laws specific to biological sex are now meaningless in the wake of gender ideology.

Ratelband was optimistic: “This is great!” he said after the ruling, noting the decision gives him “all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal.” —K.C.

Tumblr cleans up

In the wake of a child pornography scandal that got Tumblr removed from the Apple app store, the microblogging company announced this week it will permanently ban all adult content from its platform on Dec. 17. Any current explicit content will be switched to private, and any new content will be deleted.

“There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content,” CEO Jeff D’Onofrio said in a blog post announcing the change. “We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.” —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.

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  • GaryG
    Posted: Sat, 12/08/2018 09:56 am

    Regarding the change in vocabulary for sexual immorality, I was curious the other day when reading this article from WORLD:

    The article initially refers to the murder victims as "prostitutes".  Later in the article, they are called "workers," without any explanation of what kind of "work" they were doing.  It surprised me because it didn't seem like the kind of wording I would expect from WORLD.  Were they employees in a legitimate context, or is WORLD now going to call prostitution "sex work"?

  • GaryG
    Posted: Sat, 12/08/2018 02:01 pm

    Replying to my own comment, since I now see a more obvious example here:

    Is this a recent change in WORLD's editorial policy?  I am open to persuasion.  Would WORLD be willing to explain/defend this usage?  In my ears, the word "work" legitimizes the behavior.

    Posted: Tue, 12/11/2018 08:51 pm

    We have an awful outbreak of euphemisms in our modern culture.

    If you ceded to anyone the "power to define" something you almost never get it back: pre-born child is out "fetal tissue" is in. Gentleman's Club is in, "Stripper bar" is out. How many of the planet's most horrific govts in 20th century were called "People's Democratic Republics"?  I wonder for example if our schools and colleges even explain what totalitarianism is, what "authoritarianism" is? I read a recent WSJ article about American entrepreneurs in China who were amazed at the arbitrary power of the government there and how intrusive and controlling it is. Are we even allowed to use the word "dictatorship" in conversations about the mainland Chinese anymore?

    Posted: Tue, 12/11/2018 08:52 pm

    What's the new term to describe those who were once known as "pimps"?

    Are they now schedulers, booking agents, contract fulfillment team leaders? 

  • paulbryant
    Posted: Tue, 12/11/2018 09:11 pm

    For an example of participation in "vocabulary changes for sexual immorality" in which World engages, you need not have gone beyond this article. In the segment on Starbucks, Albert Mohler is quoted decrying the redefinition of pornography as "adult entertainment", then in the final segment Kiley Crossland refers to pornography as "adult content". Is World intentionally participating in this redefinition as well?

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sun, 12/09/2018 10:23 pm

    I'm with Mr. Ratelband of the Netherlands, as far as being able to decide for ourselves what our age should be!  I lost a fairly good job at age 66 and discovered my qualifications and experience did not help a lot in getting another good job.  I finally settled for something at 2/3 of my previous pay.  I'm convinced my age was part of the reason for my difficulty finding better employment.  Sure, they aren't supposed to ask how old you are, but that does not stop them from asking what year you graduated from high school!

    By the way, don't feel sorry for me--it was my own mouth that cost me the good job, and I've retired now anyway.  And I really like being retired!

    Posted: Tue, 12/11/2018 08:47 pm

    So what exactly did you say? Be as vague as you need to be. Sometimes folks lose a good job and that was necessary in order to land a great one!