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Ombudsman reports on ICANN 43 “girls” scandal

Kevin Murphy, April 4, 2012, 10:07:02 (UTC), Gossip

ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte has delivered his official report on the ICANN 43 sexism controversy.

As you may recall, during the ICANN 43 meeting in Costa Rica last month, domain name lawyer John Berryhill complained to LaHatte about a booth operated by Czech ccTLD operator CZ.nic.

Marketing ICANN 44, which CZ.nic is hosting in Prague this June, the booth offered cartoon postcards advertising “girls” as one of several reasons — alongside “beer”, “culture” etc — to attend the meeting.

Berryhill complained that the cards objectified women and were inappropriate for an ICANN meeting.

LaHatte writes:

The complainant says the use of the postcard was demeaning to women and an unnecessary objectification of them.

After some discussion, they [CZ.nic] understood the way in which this was seen, from another perspective, and quickly agreed to remove the postcards as an option in the kiosk display. What they saw as a light-hearted tribute to attractive woman in the Czech Republic, they then were able to see as offensive to others. Because they were so ready to perceive and accept the alternative view, it was not necessary to take any further action

A presentation by CZ.nic later in the week at the Costa Rica meeting eschewed any mention of the cards in question.

In the interests of disclosure, since first reporting this story I’ve discovered that Berryhill discovered the postcards via one of my own tweets, so I’m probably partly responsible for creating my own controversy here.

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Comments (9)

  1. Michele says:

    So basically you created your own story? 🙂

  2. Kristina says:

    It was John? Cool! I’d heard it was Marilyn.

  3. Love Love Love says:

    A guy who defends pornographers coming to the defense of women. Love it

  4. David says:

    While I haven’t seen the postcards, a large part of the domain name industry trades on sexism with gorgeous women used to promote many aspects of the industry, so I’m waiting for more complaints!

  5. John Berryhill says:

    “A guy who defends pornographers coming to the defense of women. Love it”

    It’s pretty simple. Pornographers are pornographers, and have whatever rights their jurisdiction allows.

    ICANN is a non-discriminatory international organization which has an obligation to ensure that they provide an appropriate environment and, in particular relation to materials which were imprinted with ICANN’s name on them, and promoting an ICANN event.

    You are entitled to freedom of expression using your own platform, name and venue, to promote whatever events you run. You are not entitled to freedom of expression when you are doing so under the imprimatur of someone else. If you want to have bikini jello-wrestling matches at your place on Saturday nights, then save me a seat and a couple of beers. I’ll even help you get the permit. Just don’t advertise it as an ICANN event.

    If you are raising some sort of personal issue, I assure you that I am as flawed, hypocritical and downright ghastly as anyone else. But that’s not really the point in what communications are to be conducted under the endorsement of ICANN and in an ICANN venue to promote an ICANN event.

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