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Utah Continues Its Crusade Against Pornography

Utah Continues Its Crusade Against Pornography:

Fanatical Utah Republicans are continuing their crusade to rid their state of what they called “public health crisis,” in a resolution passed unanimously last April. No, it’s not Zika or obesity or even poverty. This group of pearl-clutching lawmakers have their sights set on outlawing pornography.

Last spring’s legislation was written by a group called the National Center for Sexual Exploitation, which was then known as Morality in Media. At the time, the executive director of the group, Dawn Hawkins, claimed that “research shows that pornography use is linked to increased verbal and physical sexual aggression, acceptance of rape myths, decreased brain matter, reduced impulse control and decision making, risky sexual behaviors among adolescents, higher incidence of STIs and increased sexual dysfunction.“

Hawkins should fire her research team because she has been misinformed. Back in 2013, Psychology Today squashed the myth that porn is in any way linked to erectile dysfunction. Nor is there evidence that porn is addictive; a 2015 UCLA study published in Biological Psychology, for instance, found that the “pornography addiction model not supported.”

Still, her group’s campaign of misinformation seems to have worked on the Utah state government. Yesterday, Senator Todd Weiler introduced legislation that will make it legal for people who believe they are addicted to porn to sue the websites they watch it on. Weiler generously compared his bill to those passed that would hold cigarette companies accountable for negative health effects of their products.

Moral outrage aside, scientists say that the terminology of addiction might not even be correct for people who believe that they watch too much porn. The researchers on that UCLA study reported that watching too much porn has nowhere near the same effect as an addiction to cigarettes, drugs and gambling—all classified scientifically as addiction—on the brain. Utah doesn’t seem too concerned with scientific fact in this case, though.

Weiler hopes to send a message to porn distributors that they might be financially liable for anyone who fancies him or herself a porn addict, but he does offer one piece of cold comfort to his constituency who are still hoping to watch porn in peace without having to worry about being shamed by their elected officials. “[This isn’t] government coming in and saying what you can and can’t watch,” he insisted.

No matter Weiler’s intentions, porn-paranoia is spreading. Just last week, Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican, introduced legislation parroting Utah’s message. He condemned porn as a “public health crisis” and called it an “epidemic.”

Weiler and Marshall have resorted to scare tactics to push their moral agenda. Science says there is no basis for their fears—or any of yours. In our POV, there’s no issue with closing your blinds, dimming the lights and switching on your favorite movie from time to time. It might even be good for you.

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