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August 04, 2016

Anti-Porn Utah Takes Heat From Penthouse Mag

CHATSWORTH, Calif.—The cover of the July/August issue of Penthouse screams, “Utah’s Governor Wants To Handle Your Penis”— an obvious attention-getter; more so than the article’s actual title, “The Mormon War On Porn Is Coming For You”—and it certainly got the attention of a bunch of Utahns, from Republican state Sen. Todd Weiler, who proposed Concurrent Resolution 9, declaring porn a “public health crisis,” to Gov. Gary Hebert, who signed the bill in an elaborate ceremony on April 19 … to the Salt Lake Tribune, which first took notice of the issue. The Penthouse story was written by Andy Campbell, having accepted an assignment from Penthouse owner Kelly Holland after she saw an article on the same topic that Campbell had written for the Huffington Post—and it’s a doozy! Longtime adult industry members are well aware of Utah’s official anti-porn stance, despite the fact that the state also accounts for the largest per capita number of subscriptions to adult websites. After all, it was Utah that first created the official position of “porn czar,” and several seminars and conventions to discuss the “harms of porn” have been held in the state in recent years, most with the aid of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which had a major role in writing Weiler’s resolution. “But this is the Mormon Church,” Campbell writes near the beginning of the article. “It’s a religion that condemns masturbation as unchaste. It’s a religion whose clergy view pornography as evil, and as addictive as heroin. It’s a religion whose 13th President, Ezra Taft Benson, famously said, ‘The Book of Mormon places unchastity next to murder.’ “It’s a religion that could care less about the separation of church and state,” he continues. “Its ultra-faithful lawmakers just brought Mormon ideology into national politics by passing a resolution declaring pornography a "public health crisis" and an "epidemic.'" Not words that will endear Campbell or Penthouse to the Church of Latter-Day Saints, as the Mormon Church is known in Utah. But despite existing attempts to develop a statewide internet filter for sexual speech, Weiler told The Salt Lake Tribune that, "I've never pretended to ban pornography for adults. I think adults have the right to choose. Everything I've done with pornography has been about protecting children and, hopefully, Penthouse isn't selling their magazine to children. "If a magazine like Penthouse is taking you to task, that’s always a good sign that you’re on the right side of history,” he added. "The fact that the industry feels so threatened by a non-binding resolution meant to raise awareness of this problem shows you just how desperate they must be." Funny thing about non-binding resolutions: California used to have one encouraging people to wear seat belts when they drive—but it didn't take too long before the belting was mandatory, a ticketable offense. But with the new leadership, Penthouse is getting more political—and that's just fine with the magazine's editor, Raphie Artonowitz. "We wanted to show these guys that them imposing their views on us and bringing their values to our doorstep is just as irritating as us doing the same do them," Aronowitz said, perhaps referring to the fact that this presidential election year's official Republican Party Platform includes the "porn is a public health crisis" statement. In fact, Holland has sent copies of the current issue to Weiler, Herbert and the Utah-based leaders of the Mormon Church, much as Larry Flynt has sent copies of Hustler to the entire Utah legislature. And Holland herself had a few choice words for the Utah hierarchy. "Contrary to the wild claims of State Senator Todd Weiler and Utah Governor Gary Herbert, there’s absolutely no credible studies to suggest that pornography is a public health threat or crisis for children or adults; it’s absurd," Holland told AVN. "Lead in the water of Flint, Michigan, is a public health threat; the Zika virus in Florida is a public health threat; Donald Trump is a threat to the mental health of most people on the planet—pornography is the last thing lawmakers should be wasting valuable time on. As a matter of fact pornography as a sexual aid is a wonderful way to relieve the stress we face over the real threats in our world. "The State of Utah has the fourth highest suicide rate in the country, they rank first in the nation in child sexual abuse and are high on the list for sexual assault, rape and domestic violence," she added. "I’d suggest that a State House dominated by the agenda of the Mormon Church should rethink its priorities and remember the fundamental idea of a separation of church and state. Embarrassingly the State House is driven more by conservative moral values than rationality." But Weiler told Campbell for his HuffPo article that he'd like to see porn treated like tobacco: "Declare it harmful and addictive, regulate it heavily and restrict access to minors." "When I was a kid you could buy cigarettes for a few quarters," he said. "When we as a nation found that tobacco was addictive and harmful, it got restricted from minors. We’re not trying to ban pornography just like we didn’t ban tobacco—we’re trying to make it less accessible to children. We’re following the model that we did with tobacco years ago." "State Senator Todd Weiler claims that pornography is as much of a threat as tobacco and should carry a similar health warning," Holland retorted. "Todd, tobacco is actually addictive. That’s science. Pornography is entertainment fantasy and claiming it’s a threat is not science." Interestingly, Weiler claimed that Campbell had not contacted him for comment about the Penthouse piece. "I guess they feel a little bit threatened by what I've done," he told the Salt Lake Tribune, later tweeting, "So #Penthouse does a 10-page cover story on my resolution-and doesn't bother to ask me a single question." "Not true Todd," Campbell responded, "I spoke to you at length here. Also tried to call for Penthouse, no response." Hmmm... must be another case of porn cooties at work! But Holland had an idea for a cure: "Todd, masturbating improves blood flow to the brain and consequently may improve your memory... "He also went on to say, 'I guess they feel a bit threatened by what I’ve done'"—to which Holland observed, "Stupidity threatens us all."

 
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