Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Article excerpt

A wonderful email has arrived from Airbnb entitled 'Discrimination and Belonging -- What It Means For You'.

Having tried to make sense of it, I feel it can mean only one thing with any certainty. And that is that the Airbnb party is over. The web business started by a whizz kid in his New York apartment is about to feed itself to the ravening equality agenda wolves.

Sadly, the once proud Airbnb corporation has decided to launch 'a comprehensive effort to fight bias and inequality in the Airbnb community'.

With abject hand-wringing, it says it wants to make sure that any householder joining its site to host tourists in their spare room for extra cash will from now on guarantee to choose these tourists without any regard for 'race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age'. Furthermore, the host will treat their guests 'without judgment or bias' and also with the dreaded R-word -- respect. Oh, for heaven's sake.

Once an individual or company starts using the R-word you know it is in full flight from what used to be referred to as reality.

The email I have received sets out the Airbnb Community Commitment, which I must sign up to if I want to go on hosting students from Taiwan and chefs from Israel. The commitment is so verbose it would be impossible to explain here.

But these are the highlights: Airbnb is, at its core, 'an open community dedicated to bringing the world closer together by fostering meaningful, shared experiences amongst people from all parts of the world'. Its purpose is to 'build a world where people from every background feel welcome and respected' and to 'promote empathy and understanding across all cultures'.

And there was me thinking it was about having a messy twenty-something backpacker in your spare room for a few quid. No. Airbnb is about promoting world peace, and the free movement of all peoples to wherever they want to be, in a way that makes them feel as happy and accepted and included as possible.

To this end, I must click a box accepting that I am 'becoming part of a community of inclusion', dedicated to ending all barriers between races and religions.

Obviously, as I am joining this 'community of inclusion', I may not decline a guest based on race, colour, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. …

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