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December 14, 2016

Utah Wants To Spend $50K To Fight Porn

SALT LAKE CITY—After all the hooraw surrounding Utah's declaring porn use to be a "public health crisis" last March, and the Republican Party's adoption of a platform plank with the same declaration last July, it was clearly only a matter of time before the state with the highest per capita number of subscriptions to adult websites would try to throw some money at the non-existent problem—and now, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is trying to do just that. Of course, one would have to search all the way back to page 92 of Herbert's proposed state budget for 2017 to find the line item that would direct $50,000 of the proposed budget's $16 billion to the recently formed Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP), the private organization that held an anti-porn conference lastsSpring, at which several of the speakers were provided by the National Coalition on Sexual Exploitation (formerly Morality in Media)—the same organization that wrote the "public health crisis" resolution introduced to the legislature by state Rep. Todd Weiler. As the Salt Lake Tribune recently noted, "If the Legislature adopts the governor's recommendation, it would mark the first time in more than a decade that public money has been committed to anti-pornography initiatives. Much of UCAP's funding comes from prominent financial backers like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Eccles Foundation and The Sorensen Foundation. "And it would be the most focused effort by government to combat pornography since the state hired the first-of-its-kind Utah's Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman—commonly called the Porn Czar—within the attorney general's office, an experiment that made national headlines when it was tried in 2001, only to be scrapped amid budget cuts two years later." As an example of how useless such a ($75,000 per annum) position was, the state's most recent porn czar, Paula Houston, made headlines in 2002 when she couldn't even convince the state legislature to revamp Utah's unconstitutional anti-nudity law so that artworks like Michelangelo's nude statue of David could be displayed in the state without fear of prosecution. One of the most prominent people opposing the $50K giveaway is First Amendment attorney Andrew McCullough, who also happens to be the chair of the Utah Libertarian Party, and who thinks the UCAP funding is a complete waste of taxpayers' money. "It’s a bunch of—I’m trying to think of a word you can print," McCullough told the Tribune. "In the greater scheme of things, the governor would say, 'that’s not a lot of money,' but it is a lot of money if you’re throwing it down a rat hole or using it to interfere with my personal freedoms. So no, I don’t like it even slightly. We all know it’s a waste and they’re not going to accomplish anything and we all know there’s a real threat there—a threat to personal freedom." In another example of how nutty Utah is "in the greater scheme of things," in March of last year, Gov. Herbert signed a bill bringing back the firing squad as the state's primary means of execution—the only state in the country which authorizes such a method. Hopefully, that's one thing Utah's porn users won't have to look forward to.

 
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