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Adult Internet Stakeholders and ICM

  • To: xxx-icm-agreement@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Adult Internet Stakeholders and ICM
  • From: reedlee@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 5 Feb 2007 18:01:28 -0600 (GMT-06:00)

A number of comments (including that by the
Free Speech Coalition, with which I am associated)
have addressed the lack of any real relationship
between ICM and the Internet community which
it initially sought to "serve" with its proposal for a
.xxx sTLD.

I just thought that a little analogy would serve
to explain the "thanks, but no thanks" response
of virtually all of the adult Internet community
to ICM's proposal and show why it is that we
think ICANN would ignore our interests as
stakeholders if it went ahead and approved that
proposal now.

Suppose, in the here and now, that someone
came forward with a proposal for a .gay TLD,
sponsored or generic.  And suppose further
that long-time gay-rights and human-rights
activists responded by saying a few things:

First, they comment that they never heard
of those proposing the TLD before the proposal.
Never saw any of them at rallies or marches.
Never saw any of them testifying in legislative
hearings or getting involved in litigation.  Never
saw any of them walking the precincts on the
referenda of interest.  Never known any of them
to write an Amnesty International letter on
behalf of a victim of persecution.  Never saw
a peep from any of them in print on any
issue of interest to the gay community world-
wide or even in a single country or locale.

Second, they say, we don't really need a TLD
of our own.  We're doing just fine on the Internet
with .org, .net, .com, and the like.  We don't
need to ask ICANN for special treatment.  It is
enough that we're left to do our organizing
and communicating and community-building on
the general Internet channels.  It fact, the
suggestion that our communication be segregated
from the general Internet traffic is somewhat
insulting to us.

Third, they continue, despite the remarkable
gains we've made in many places over the
past 40 years, it's still a very tough world we
live in.  There are many hostile forces
-- powerful and influential -- which want to
interfere with our progress.  Some of those
forces might try to use .gay to ghetto-ize our
Internet communication or, worse, to censor it.
We have a lot of experience fighting that sort of
thing. As much as we appreciate the progress
we have made in some places, we are not sure
that we can yet beat back all of those forces
everywhere and for all time.  And, quite frankly,
we have battles of our own choosing we are 
attending to just now, we don't necessarily 
have the time, resources, or energy to fight
the battles which adoption of .gay would surely
provoke.

Does any one imagine that ICANN would proceed
with the .gay proposal under these circumstances?
Would ICANN expose those stakeholders to the
attention they do not seek and are not sure they
want to spend the energy fighting?

Yet this is precisely what the adult Internet 
community -- including those who've fought
censorship battles and other free speech challenges
for decades -- have said about ICM and its .xxx
sTLD proposal.  Why is it still on ICANN's agenda?

If ICANN respects the adult Internet community
as the legitimate stakeholders we are, it will tell 
ICM "no" and spare us the fights which .xxx will
bring.  _We_ never asked ICANN for any special
favors.  _We_ never asked ICANN to step into
the middle of the world-wide debate about sexually
oriented expression.

Only ICM did.  And ICM never saw a free speech
fight before now.  And it makes no real bones about 
the fact that it proposed .xxx to make money.
Its principal spokesperson told the Wall Street
Journal last spring that he wasn't out to "save the
whales."  Brave place, Stuart, to take a shot at
enviromentalists:  the Wall Street Journal.

But ICM isn't really out to save the children either.
Or to promote adult expression on the Internet.
It's out to make a buck off of a crowd it never had
any sort of relationship with.  I am an old activist.
A child of the '60's (as well as of the 'new math')
In my day, we had a term for folks like ICM:
"culture vultures."

I only hope that the folks at ICANN have been
around awhile too.  If they have, they to will have
seen exploitation attempts before -- some, perhaps,
less obvious that others.  If so, ICANN to will under-
stand why the adult Internet community is virtually
uniformly opposed to a .xxx.  And it will understand
why it is particularly inappropriate as an sTLD. 

Reed Lee.




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