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January 29, 2016

Utah Senate Resolution Would Declare Porn a 'Public Health Crisis'

SALT LAKE CITY—Talk about being conflicted about sex, the state of Utah takes the cake! Though the state ranks No. 1 in the country in terms of per capita online subscribers to adult entertainment sites, No. 1 in per capita internet searches for terms such as “nudity,” “strip tease,” and “pornography,” as well as No. 1 in per capita internet access of adult sites in hotel rooms, the largely Mormon-dominated government has been doing its best to keep its citizens sleeping with their hands above the covers. Over the years, the Utah legislature has attempted to block all adult internet sites from being viewed within the state, tried to levy special taxes on everything from adult stores to escort businesses to strip clubs, and was the only state to have its own "porn czar" (until it fired her in a 2003 cost-cutting move). It even had its sheriffs documenting how much porn was found at crime scenes! (And you don't even want to know how it deals with sex education.) But hey, it's 2016, and surely Utah's lawmakers have figured out that with so many of their constituents seeking out porn, they might want to tread lightly around that extremely popular topic, haven't they? Su-u-u-u-re they have! (Insert smiley-face emoticon.) Meet state Sen. Todd Weiler (R-natch!), who yesterday introduced his "Concurrent Resolution on the Public Health Crisis." What "public health crisis," you might ask? Why, pornography, of course! Among the purported "findings" of the "Legislature of the state of Utah, the Governor concurring therein" are such ditties as "pornography perpetuates a sexually toxic environment"; "pornography is contributing to the hypersexualization of teens, and even prepubescent children, in our society"; "exposure to pornography often serves as childrens' and youths' sex education and shapes their sexual templates" (hmmm—wonder why that is?); "pornography treats women and children as objects and often depicts rape and abuse as if they are harmless"; "pornography equates violence towards women and children with sex and pain with pleasure, which increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography"; and of course, "recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive, which means the user requires more novelty, often in the form of more shocking material, in order to be satisfied." "NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah, the Governor concurring therein, recognizes that pornography is a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms," reads one of the resolution's conclusions. The full resolution can be read here. Of course, it's just a resolution and doesn't create any new law. Rather, its apparent purpose is to justify a crackdown on adult content at all levels of Utah society by "recogniz[ing] the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation." It'll be interesting to see how that "need" plays out as the 2016 presidential election draws nearer.

 
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