Utah Gov. Gary Herbert looks up during a ceremonial signing of a state resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis, April 19, 2016, in Salt Lake City.
Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP

Utah labels pornography a ‘public health crisis’

For decades, controversies surrounding abortion and LGBT rights have been staples of the culture war, but a variety of other issues have come and gone, fading in and out of the spotlight. Fights over school prayer and warning labels on albums were once quite contentious, but they’ve been replaced with arguments about bathrooms, fetal tissue, and country clerks who want to deny couples marriage licenses.
Once in a while, though, a culture war issue will emerge, then fade, then make a comeback. Women’s access to contraception, for example, used to be a major national issue, before a national consensus seemed to emerge. It wasn’t until very recently that Republicans decided to renew the old fight in a new way.
And then, of course, there’s porn. This used to be a staple of the culture wars for many years – I assume many of you have seen The People vs. Larry Flynt, for example – though online advances changed the nature of the debate. It therefore came as something of a surprise when Utah policymakers decided to label pornography a “public health crisis.”
Gov. Gary Herbert is set to sign a resolution passed by the state legislature last month that calls for increased “education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level” to combat pornography.
“Pornography perpetuates a sexually toxic environment,” the resolution states. “Efforts to prevent pornography exposure and addiction, to educate individuals and families concerning its harms, and to develop recovery programs must be addressed systemically in ways that hold broader influences accountable.”
State Sen. Todd Weiler (R), who crafted the resolution, told NBC News he’s not trying to ban pornography, but he does believe it’s “addictive” and he hopes to make it more difficult to access.
Maybe the culture war is like fashion: wait long enough, and stuff that’s gone out of style will eventually come back again?
Incidentally, I suspect it’s just a coincidence that sex and politics have intersected a little more often than usual lately, between Utah, the D.C. Madam scandal, and Ted Cruz’s comments about the availability of sexual devices.
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