The current controversy

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by Chip, Jan 12, 2006.

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  1. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    The moderators have made me aware of the various threads regarding my involvement with the adult industry. Because I am busy working on a lot of other projects, I'm checking in maybe a couple times a month at most to DegreeInfo. So I apologize for the delay in responding on this issue. I’ll do my best to address this issue as clearly as I can.

    The short answer to the question everyone is asking is yes, I am one of several owners of Media Resource Communications (MRC), which is a media company that has among its properties several adult websites and other media properties. I am not the majority stockholder in the company, but I am involved in the company with marketing, project management, IT services, and various other aspects. I have worked with both the adult and non-adult properties that MRC operates. And MRC is just one of a number of companies and projects with which I’m involved; it’s not by any means my sole source of income., LLC is a California LLC with myself and two other individuals (not the same as MRC). LLC runs the website, which includes the searchable database, the web discussion boards, and the occasional education-related consulting work we've done in the past, such as co-authoring Bears' Guide. DegreeInfo does not now, nor has it ever had any involvement in any entertainment industry, adult or otherwise, nor does it have any other non-education related business dealings of any kind.

    The next question I am anticipating is the relationship between degreeinfo and MRC. There is none. Never has been, never will be. DegreeInfo has been profitable on its own since, I think, 2002, so no MRC money has ever been used to support DegreeInfo, nor have any funds ever been commingled between MRC and DegreeInfo. I am the only common owner between the two organizations. I've never been secretive about my work with MRC; while I realize that adult content is controversial, there are many large companies with their fingers in that arena, including Adelphia, OnDemand, and Cabill in the US, and countless other very large corporations in the US and Europe who own adult media properties, and so I’ve never felt any need to hide my connection with MRC. At the same time, out of respect to those who are offended by it, I also don’t trumpet from the treetops about my work in that field, because it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so. When it comes up, I address it. That’s pretty much the way I’ve always been about everything.

    The third issue relates to the accusations about pedophilia and child pornography. Anyone who knows me knows I would never have anything to do with any organization or activity that would be involved in harming children or putting them at risk in any way, nor would I have any involvement in anything that would promote or condone pedophilia. MRC has always been strongly opposed (as are all other reputable companies involved in adult media) to any exploitation of children or anything that promotes pedophilia. The adult industry is heavily regulated, and MRC's adult properties are fully compliant in every way, including maintaining proper proof of age for all models, and only purchasing content from reputable content producers that are known in the industry for ethical behavior. Like all other reputable companies with involvement in adult media, MRC participates in trade associations that work together and report any suspicions of child pornography or child exploitation, and takes steps to ensure that the companies it works with are compliant and ethical in their business dealings. I personally will have absolutely nothing to do with any business, individual or entity engaged in any form of pedophilia or child pornography ever, under any circumstances. Regardless of one's views on the appropriateness of adult content in society, I think that we can all agree that child pornography and pedophilia have no place in a civilized society, and anyone who believes otherwise deserves to suffer the consequences of their violation of the law.

    I realize that adult entertainment is controversial and is frowned on by many people in society. Yet there are plenty of others who see adult materials as something that, used appropriately, can be helpful and beneficial to many of those who choose to view it in the privacy of their own homes. It’s not the appropriate venue to argue for or against adult media in society, but I will say that some time ago, MRC adopted a 10 point business philosophy related to its adult properties that ensures its customers, the models whose work is displayed, and the other companies with whom it does business are treated honestly, ethically, and with dignity and respect. That philosophy is linked directly from the main page of all of MRC’s adult websites, and it is a guiding factor in all of MRC’s actions in the adult sector. I realize that the notion of ethics and dignity in the production and distribution of adult content may seem like an oxymoron to some, but anyone who takes the time to actually speak with the reputable companies in the industry will probably be very surprised to find that there are many companies in adult media that are run by honest, upstanding, ethical people who happen to be comfortable working in an industry that markets adult entertainment products.

    I must admit I am very surprised at the uproar, and deeply concerned that DegreeInfo regulars somehow feel that they will be tarnished by association. DegreeInfo is a large, diverse community with hundreds of active posters whose political, social, economic, religious, and all other interests, practices and preferences are all over the map. It is a lively, vibrant community that represents the diversity inherent in our society. Although I am an owner of DegreeInfo, DegreeInfo really represents the collective thoughts, information, and resources of the community that participates here. As such, I find it very disturbing that anyone could plausibly argue that, by posting or participating here, they are somehow going to be tarnished simply because of a very tenuous connection between two completely unrelated companies. There has never, ever (as far as I know) been any discussion of adult entertainment or content on DegreeInfo, nor would the moderators permit there to be, as this is not an appropriate place for it. Since there are no connections between DegreeInfo and any adult entertainment-related activities at all, I fail to see how even our strongest detractors can say anything other than the facts… that someone who happens to partially own and be involved in, LLC also happens to partially own and be involved in another company that happens to, among other properties, have assets in the adult media field. And, for what it's worth, Wikipedia, the largest free encyclopedia in the world, was founded by an individual who works in the adult media business. Unlike DegreeInfo, Wikipedia was funded by and actually owned by the adult media company operated by Wikipedia's founder until a year ago. Just as with DegreeInfo, I have a hard time seeing how there is any meaningful tarnish on Wikipedia simply because someone working in a "taboo" industry had some involvement in it.

    In any case, I think that anyone who buys into the hype the mill apologists are trying to create is simply playing into their hands. They'd love nothing more than to silence the degree mill fighting resources that DegreeInfo has offered for 4+ years. And, on an ironic note, once again, the mill apologists actions have backfired; as a result of the publicity provided by their many postings, both MRC’s adult properties and DegreeInfo itself have had far more traffic (and in the case of MRC’s websites, far greater sales) than at any other time in the past couple of months. More traffic, more visibility, more people helped by DegreeInfo. While I realize that none of us appreciate the resulting drama and that a number of individuals feel angry or betrayed, the thing we have to remember is that anything we do to kowtow to the mill apologists simply encourages them; the more we just continue doing the good work that DegreeInfo has always done, the more effective we can continue to be in getting out our message.

    To the extent that anyone feels they have been harmed by this distant association, I am very deeply sorry. I never in my wildest dreams anticipated that anyone would be harmed, or that there could possibly be any negative effects on DegreeInfo solely because of an unrelated outside business interest held by one of the owners of DegreeInfo. And to those who feel the need to withdraw from this community because of such concerns, I am also deeply sorry, because that will be a loss to the community that DegreeInfo serves.

    For my part, my current work on numerous projects (mostly unrelated to MRC, by the way) are taking nearly all of my time, so I will continue to be an infrequent visitor/contributor. I don't wish to, nor do I have time to engage in further discussions related to this topic. As such, I am locking this thread, (though I've given the moderators who wish to do so permission to post any comments they may have) and I will leave it to the moderators to handle discussion as they feel appropriate.

    DegreeInfo is the valuable resource that it is simply because so many people contribute their expertise and knowledge. It exists to help individuals make wise choices about distance education, and avoid options that could potentially harm them. As long as people continue to make use of its resources, it will continue to be a distance learning community that helps people to find good choices in distance education. And, in my book, that's what's really important here.
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