Selling Baltimore short

Cyber scandal: Smut peddler offers 30 percent discount to get rid of Baltimore domain name.

January 21, 2002

IF www.whitehouse.com is a porn site, is it any wonder that a smut peddler has also appropriated baltimoremaryland.com? And if presidents from Bill Clinton - ahem - to George W. Bush can live with the White House's association with erotica, there is no reason for Mayor Martin O'Malley to cough up the cash that the fast-buck artist wants for the Baltimore Internet site.

"I'm disgusted, repulsed and annoyed," the mayor says.

He should be. Mr. O'Malley should also be troubled that the asking price for the Baltimore-associated site is a paltry $8,500.

In fact, the porn peddler, a former Oregon resident who may be working from the Philippines, is willing to give a 30 percent discount just to get rid of baltimoremaryland.com this month!

Now, what kind of message does that send to the cyber world?

Gov. Parris N. Glendening, too, should be outraged. Marylandtravel.com, another porn site, is for sale for an insulting $2,500 - before the 30 percent discount. Surely, our state's tourism potential must be worth more than that.

Seriously, none of this makes too much difference. Domain names may be desirable for prestige or quick mental association - City Hall has baltimorecity.gov - but the truth is most information seekers never even notice where Web search engines and browsers take them.

A few years back, an engineer fired from the Baltimore Convention Center tried to get back at then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke by trashing the city on the Internet.

It didn't work. Charm City kept charming visitors, regardless of the flaming.

So, Mr. Mayor, cool off. Dot.com, dot.go.

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