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October 03, 2017

Weiler Wants New Czar To Manage Utah Porn 'Public Health Crisis'

SALT LAKE CITY—It's been almost 15 years since Utah laid off its last "Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombuds(wo)man" (OPCO), more commonly known as Utah's "porn czar," and in an uncommon show of good sense, some state legislators now want to wipe Utah Code 67-5-18, the portion of the law that established the OPCO in the first place, off the books, according to an article in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune. After all, the last OPCO, Paula Houston, spent two years in the job basically doing nothing except advising locals how to avoid receiving explicit email spam—and the state gave her $150,000 to do it with! She also supposedly had "15 pornography cases moving through the courts," at least three of which involved child porn, but nothing further was heard about them after she was fired and her office defunded, thanks to a state budget shortfall. But of course, this being Utah, not all of the state legislators are sane about this subject. Enter state Sen. Todd Weiler, who's also chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who told the Tribune that he's been thinking of reviving the position, now that Gov. Gary Herbert has signed his resolution (written by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation) declaring porn to be a "public health crisis"—and let's face it: What better things does Utah have to do with its taxpayers' hard-earned money? But Weiler doesn't just want a new "czar" under the same old law; he wants to "revive that office with a wider scope 'not just to focus on pornography,' allowing citizens to seek legal guidance from the state on many issues." Some of that "legal guidance" might take the form of helping residents sue adult companies under the Cause of Action for Minors Injured by Pornography Act, Senate Bill 185, which will allow a person—presumably a parent, but possibly an "affected" minor—to sue any publisher of an explicit magazine or DVD if that material "is the proximate cause for the person being harmed physically or psychologically, or by emotional or medical illnesses as a result of that pornographic material." Gov. Herbert signed that bill into law on March 28, though no lawsuit has yet been brought under the new law. What'll be very interesting, though, is just who might be one of the first targets of such a lawsuit. Anyone who receives Glenn Beck's daily email TheBlaze will have seen the ad from CosmoHurtsKids.com, the website/organization created by Victoria Hearst to bash the "sexual" content of Cosmopolitan magazine—even though her extended family owns Hearst Magazines, which publishes Cosmo! According to Victoria, Cosmo "contains PORNOGRAPHY such as: "• Drawings of naked men and women in sexual positions. "• Photos of full rear male nudity. "• Articles glorifying group sex, anal sex, married couples swinging parties, sex with strangers, and more. "• A 'Sex Q & A' section where female readers ask graphic sexual questions and receive graphic sexual answers. "• A 'Sex Toy of the Month' feature. "COSMO seduces underage girls into reading the magazine by putting teen and 'tween' idols on the cover, and by printing articles listing the best colleges to go to to have sex. "MY 'COSMO HURTS KIDS' CAMPAIGN IS NOT TRYING TO CENSOR THIS MAGAZINE OR PUT IT OUT OF BUSINESS. THE GOAL IS TO HAVE COSMO LABELLED 'ADULT MATERIAL' SO THAT IT CANNOT BE SOLD TO ANYONE UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE... "THIS MAGAZINE IS PORNOGRAPHIC AND VIOLATES STATES' 'MATERIAL HARMFUL TO MINORS LAWS.' IT SHOULD NOT BE SOLD TO KIDS!!" [All capitalization in original] And speaking of "material harmful to minors laws," Utah Code 76-10-1201(5) defines materials as harmful to minors if they contain "any description or representation, in whatsoever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse when it: taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors; is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors; and taken as a whole, does not have serious value for minors." We haven't looked at an issue of Cosmo recently, though Weiler claims to have done so, so we can't comment on whether a case could be made that its contents "taken as a whole" (a very important phrase in obscenity-style prosecutions) gets minors horny. But the Cosmo website does contain stories such as "Semen-Tainted Flutes Were Allegedly Given to Music Students Across Southern California," "Blake Lively Has Changed Her Mind About Filming Nude Scenes," "Sexy Halloween Costumes Perfect for Your Sign" and "Inside a Two-Day Sex Party at a Nudist Resort"—certainly enough to set Victoria Hearst's pulses racing, and possibly even Weiler's. "I don’t consider myself a prude," said Mr. Public Health Crisis. "And I was shocked at some of the content that was in there." So Hearst wants all supermarkets and other venues where Cosmo is sold to put the magazine behind "blinder racks" just as they now do with Penthouse, Hustler, Playboy and other publications that offer nudity, and not sell it to anyone under 18—and she's even paid for billboards to push her cause, a photo of one of which graces the Tribune article. As for what Weiler wants to do, "I've talked with the [Attorney General's] office about maybe having a position with a little wider scope. It wouldn't focus solely on pornography or sexual materials that are harmful to minors. ... You can't call the AG's office and ask for legal advice. You can call, but when they're done laughing they are going to hang up on you." But citizens could call the porn czar. There's just one problem: "I've really tried with all my anti-pornography efforts to do it in a way that doesn't cost taxpayers any money," Weiler claimed. "One of my hesitancies in opening this is it is a new position that would have to be funded." Surely the state of Utah has a half-million they could throw at this "problem," don't they?

 
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