- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2001

When Yahoo, the worlds leading Internet site, abruptly ended its budding relationship with the so-called "adult" entertainment industry last week, it did more than delight those of a culturally conservative bent. In canceling plans to peddle pornography at its online shopping area, Yahoo was actually responding to what company president Jeffrey Mallet described as "very significant feedback" (read: massive amounts of complaints) that deluged the company after the Los Angeles Times reported that the Internet portal had become the first online powerhouse to promote the sale of pornography.

Yahoo´s almost instantaneous reversal, then, was not some unilateral, restorative strike for moral idealism, but rather a sensible business decision based on white-hot consumer furor (some of which was organized by the American Family Association, some of which was not). In other words, hundreds of thousands of angry e-mails can´t be wrong.

Given Yahoo´s quite stunning X- to G-rated sales retreat, it would seem that the "mainstream" is not nearly as accepting of so-called "adult content" as most people, adults and "adults" alike, might have thought. Maybe the Yahoo case indicates that there is some renewed willingness to safeguard the cultural environment against such pollutants as the pornographic exploitation of men, women, and children, relegating "adults" who fancy that sort of thing to the fabled fringes where they have traditionally belonged.

Such a prospect, however, strikes the fear of marginalization into who else? the pornography industry. Its euphemistically named trade association, the Free Speech Coalition, has weighed in on the matter, criticizing Yahoo´s decision as an "overreaction," with a spokesman telling the New York Times how very "appropriate" the Internet is for pornography distribution because "consumers risk neither offending nor being embarrassed" themselves because of their X-rated purchases. This may come across as a most "mainstream" kind of attitude some might say bourgeois but it looks as if, for now anyway, the real mainstream isn´t buying it.

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