Society

Virginia And Utah Discuss Anti-Porn Legislation

| by Jordan Smith

A Virginia lawmaker is pushing to have pornography recognized as a public health hazard in a new piece of legislation.

Republican lawmaker Robert Marshall’s draft bill does not specify measures to be taken against the porn industry, but merely calls on the General Assembly to take action, The Washington Post reported.

The bill notes “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 the Commonwealth and the nation,” according to The Post.

Marshall suggested that such a statement will be comparable with the warnings made about the effect of smoking in the early 1960s.

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“We’ve got to say, ‘This is a problem,’” added Marshall. “Before smoking was identified as a problem, at least the recognition that it led to certain pathologies was a starting point to put restrictions on it. ... If you recognize it as a problem, then you’re going to try to find ways to solve it within the framework of the statutes we can pass and the institutions we have.”

A similar initiative is being backed by Republican state politicians in Utah. Todd Weiler, a Republican state senator who backed a bill last year describing pornography as a public health risk, is backing a measure to allow Utah residents to sue makers of porn for its alleged emotional and psychological effects.

“Right now porn is available without any warnings and labeling, without any protections online,” Weiler told The Salt Lake Tribune. “This would just open the valve for a cause of action. Let these attorneys go after these cases.”

His position is supported by Republican Utah Governor Gary Herbert.

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Weiler does not anticipate courts to immediately support claims that porn causes real harms.

“But I think, eventually, the tide will turn,” he added.

The state legislature in Tennessee is also debating an anti-porn measure.

Psychotherapist Ian Kerner disagrees with Weiler’s planned measures. Although he supports restricting access to porn for children and teenagers, he said it is necessary to recognize that we live in a world “in which porn exists, the internet exists, and we need to  show our kids how to live in it, and first we need to live in it ourselves, make porn a healthy part of our communication or communicate why we don't want it on our relationship.”

Sources: The Washington Post, The Salt Lake Tribune / Photo credit: Politico

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