FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Utah’s Porn Resolution is the Real Obscenity

On April 19, Utah governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution passed and forwarded to him by both houses of the state’s legislature: “[T]he 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; and recognizes 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 citizens of Utah and the nation.”

For the moment, the resolution has no real legal effect. It’s just a statement of sentiment and resolve to eventually do … well, something. Par for the course in political demagoguery, in other words. It is nonetheless, to use a word that appears down in the resolution’s detailed list of complaints, “toxic” in two ways.

The first is obvious: We have a First Amendment for a reason, and claims that it only extends to whatever speech and press politicians don’t think they can make hay by attacking this week don’t stand up to scrutiny.

I don’t have to like porn (I’m not going to try to convince you I’ve never looked at it). You don’t have to like porn (maybe you do, maybe you don’t). Governor Herbert and the Utah legislature don’t have to like porn (yes, I do wonder). If you don’t like it, don’t view it. Unless the participants in it are children or adults acting under compulsion, whether or not anyone else views it is None. Of. Your. Business.

Secondly, resolutions of this kind further degrade and politicize the terms “public health” and “epidemic.” At one time, those terms were arguably useful. They referred to legitimate epidemiology, i.e. the spread of pathogens (the prime example being the tale of John Snow tracing a cholera epidemic to a particular well and ending it by removing the pump handle).

Volitional human behavior — such as having sex in front of a camera or watching people have sex on camera — isn’t a pathogen per se, any more than “gun violence” — another “public health” hobgoblin raised by demagogues for political purposes — is.

And as has historically been the case with “gun violence” per the Centers for Disease Control et. al, Herbert and company fudge the evidence to reach the results they want regardless of the facts. As the Free Speech Coalition notes, “access to adult entertainment correlates pretty clearly historically and geographically with declines in sex crime.” Which may explain why rape reports declined by 14% between 2005 and 2014 in Utah, the state with America’s highest porn consumption rate.

Perhaps Herbert and his pals should work on ending the remaining 86% of rapes instead of on obscene grandstanding.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

August 21, 2018
Anthony DiMaggio
Fascist Nation: The “Alt-Right” Menace Persists, Despite Setbacks
Chris Floyd
Dial “N” for Mayhem: Wording Our Way to a New Level of Hell
Creston Davis
The Education Impasse in the USA
Jonathan Cook
In Detaining Peter Beinart, Israel Has Declared it No Longer Represents Millions of Jews Overseas
Kenneth Culton
Trump Supporters: the Joyous Cult Bound by Shared Story and Ritual
Andy Thayer
Why the Chicago ‘68 Convention Matters Today
Simone Chun
Sea of Tears: The Tragedy of Families Split by the Korean War
William Blum
The Russians Did It (cont.)
Manuel E. Yepe
How Capitalism Erodes Mental Health
Doug Noble
Thomas Mountain
Djibouti Faces Dark Days to Come; Eritrean Ports, Pipeline Threaten Ethiopian Trade Lifeline
Binoy Kampmark
Finding Fault and Faulty Infrastructure: Genoa’s Morandi Bridge Disaster
Kary Love
“Suffer Not the Little Children….”
Thomas Knapp
Omarosa Manigault Newman, Public Servant
August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Mighty Voice for Peace Has Gone Silent: Uri Avnery, 1923-2018
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail