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January 02, 2018

Anti-Porn Sen. Orrin Hatch Won't Seek Reelection

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah—After 32 years in the U.S. Senate, Utah's Orrin Hatch, 83, is finally calling it quits—and not a moment too soon. Certainly, the adult entertainment community will be happy to see him go, since as a Senate Judiciary Committee member, he supported every single anti-sexual speech measure to come before him. Hatch's decision, besides the fact that "75 percent of [Utah] voters indicated in a survey last fall that they did not want him to run again," was likely influenced by an editorial that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune on Christmas Day. Though it was titled "Why Orrin Hatch is Utahn of the Year," its writers were quick to point out that it assigns that label to "the Utahn who, over the past 12 months, has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill." Guess which category the paper put Hatch into? The paper named three major issues that influenced its judgment: Hatch's support for Trump's shrinking two national momuments located in Utah; his support for the Trump tax "reform" bill (though Hatch had once supported a "balanced budget amendment" to prevent things like the expected outcome of a $1.5 billion increase in the national debt under the Trump bill); and perhaps most tellingly, "His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power." But Hatch is perhaps best remembered by the adult industry as one of the signers of a 2011 letter, created by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE; formerly Morality in Media), to then-Attorney General Eric Holder asking "the Department of Justice vigorously to enforce federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography ... "Simply put, we know more than ever how illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking," the letter continues. "This material harms individuals, families, and communities and the problems are only getting worse.  We urge you to study the evidence gathered in such sources as PornographyHarms.com to more fully understand the crisis and the urgent need for enforcement." The claims, of course, were horseshit. As Reason magazine pointed out at the time, "in fact, every single one of these problems is trending in the opposite direction. And it isn't even close," noting for instance that "The forcible rape rate in the U.S. has dropped from 41.1 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 28.7 in 2009. That latter figure is also an all-time low." But that's hardly the extent of Hatch's anti-porn activism. In every Judiciary Committee hearing on every Justice Department nominee since he took office, it's Hatch who's led the questioning about whether the candidate is willing to pledge to prosecute adult material—and Hatch was only too happy when his home state was the first in the nation to pass a resolution claiming that "Pornography Is A Public Health Crisis"—a resolution also authored by NCOSE. But the Tribune's charge of Hatch's "lack of integrity" was on full display during the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings on Supreme Court then-nominee Clarence Thomas. Though Thomas' former assistant Anita Hill testified that "he would turn the conversation to a discussion of sexual matters. His conversations were very vivid. He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes. He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises or large breasts involving various sex acts. On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess," Hatch supported Thomas' nomination nonetheless—just as, 26 years later, he lauded Trump's support for child molester Roy Moore's bid to become a senator from Alabama! But perhaps Hatch's greatest blow to sexual freedom in the U.S. was that in 1988, he attached a rider to the Omnibus Drug Bill called the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act which not only created the useless federal record-keeping and labeling law (18 U.S.C. §2257), but also for the first time made "audio pornography" a federal crime. And as if that weren't bad enough, Hatch was instrumental in 2005 in expanding 2257 to include simulated sex in Hollywood movies—but left mainstream producers with a "back door" that allowed them to ignore the regulations if they filed a letter with the Attorney General saying they routinely kept labor records. That exemption was denied to adult producers who keep similar records. Hatch's decision is widely considered to be a blow to Pres*dent Trump, who recently applied heavy pressure to Hatch to run for reelection as a way to keep former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who now lives in Utah, from running for Hatch's Senate seat. Romney is considered to be much more liberal than Hatch, though how he would legislate if in high office remains to be seen. But if one thing is clear, Romney (or pretty much any likely replacement for Hatch) would be much better than the "original." So in conclusion ... bye, Orrin, and don't let the doors of the Senate hit your uptight ass on the way out. Pictured: Hatch speaking at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.

 
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