Utah Governor Herbert signs a resolution declaring porn as a public health crisis, hazard, and epidemic

The American state of Utah proclaimed on Tuesday after local governor Gary Herbert signed off on a resolution that declares that pornography is “a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.”

The resolution claims Utah would be the first state in the nation to make such a declaration.

It cites what is says are numerous detrimental effects of porn, including the treatment of “women as objects and commodities for the viewer’s use.”

It also says pornography “equates violence toward women and children with sex and pain with pleasure, which increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography.”

Herbert at a signing ceremony said, “We hope that people hear and heed this voice of warning. For our citizens know that there are real health risks that are involved and associated with viewing pornography.”

The resolution, passed through the state legislature, recognizes a need for education, research, prevention and changes to policy to address the issue.

Todd Weiler, the resolution’s chief Senate sponsor, admitted the ridicule he received when he first revealed the measure, which largely concentrates on pornography’s influence on children.

“When my resolution language went public last January, I was mocked and scorned on the media,” said Weiler, a Republican. News of the resolution made it as far as Vietnam, Croatia, Australia and England, he said. “The world is watching, but it’s time; it’s time that we stand up and take back our communities.”

The resolution is non-binding and requires no public spending, so its impact rests on community action, Weiler said. Parents must make it safe for children to speak with them about pornography, he said. Communities must mobilize to limit its access, for example, in places that offer free wireless internet access.

While it may appear to be sketchily narrow-minded, this declaration does make some valid points. Among them is the recognition that “exposure to pornography often serves as childrens’ and youths’ sex education and shapes their sexual templates.”

However, on the other hand, in an email, a spokesman for a porn industry trade group called the measure an “old-fashioned morals bill.”

“What we should be concerned about is not adult entertainment or sexuality, but with bills like this that traffic in shame and censorship,” said Mike Stabile, the Free Speech Coalition’s communications director. “We should live in a society where sexuality is spoken about openly, and discussed in nuanced and educated ways, and not stigmatized. We all should work together to prevent non-adults from accessing adult material.”

In addition to the resolution, Herbert also signed into law a related bill that requires computer technicians who find child pornography during their work to report it to law enforcement officials. The bill further specifies that “the willful failure to report the child pornography” could result in a penalty.

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