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Porn to be slapped with ‘warning label’ if Utah bill succeeds

The warning label would state in part that 'exposing minors to pornography is known to the state of Utah to cause negative impacts.'
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Jonathon Van Maren By Jonathon Van Maren

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February 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Those of you following this blog will know that I regularly point out the devastation digital pornography is wreaking on our social fabric. Almost a quarter of American women now feel fear during intimacy due to porn-inspired behaviors like spontaneous choking; sexual violence is becoming the norm within the context of romantic relationships; young people are learning about sexuality and each other from porn; and top porn sites consistently push wildly popular content featuring rape, incest, and often both. 

In response to this, a number of Congressmen recently sent a letter to Attorney General Bob Barr requesting that he look into curbing the porn industry by enforcing existing obscenity laws, and Princeton scholar Robert P. George chimed in with a letter of his own. Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project laid out how this could be done in a long-form essay over at First Things, and he joined me on my podcast to discuss how the government could take action to restrict access to violent pornography, especially for young people. 

Sixteen states have already dubbed digital porn a public health crisis, and now the state of Utah may be taking concrete action on this. If Republican Representative Brady Brammer gets his way, a warning label will be attached to any adult video, magazine, or publication. House Bill 243 reads as follows:

Exposing minors to pornography is known to the state of Utah to cause negative impacts to brain development, emotional development, and the ability to maintain intimate relationships. Such exposure may lead to harmful and addictive sexual behavior, low self-esteem, and the improper objectification of and sexual violence towards others, among numerous other harms.

Brammer modeled his bill after California’s product label requirements and would instruct porn producers to post the warnings—on videos, the label would have to be present for a full fifteen seconds. On magazines (which are pretty out-of-date these days), the warning would have to be easily visible. “A lot of people have seen California warnings on products about toxic substances,” Brammer told Fox 13. “It would be enforced in the same way it enforces theirs.” 

If House Bill 243 passes, there will be steep penalties for smut-peddlers who break the law. Failure to display the warnings could invite prosecution by the Utah Attorney General’s Office and result in a fine of $2,500 per infraction. Because so many children stumble across pornography by accident—anti-porn speakers confirm that this is a very, very common—these warnings could stop children from being immediately exposed to porn. “A lot of people are clicking on something, they don’t want to see it, they like to have a little heads up before they see an image they really, it’s not what they’re getting into,” Brammer noted.

Predictably, the porn industry’s defenders, including the Free Speech Coalition, have come out to condemn the legislation, with coalition spokesman Mike Stabile telling Fox 13 by email that, “The Utah bill is compelled speech, and it is unconstitutional on its face. The government has been prohibited time and again, in both conservative and liberal cases, from forcing individuals or companies to communicate a particular message.” He then worried that the bill could even cover “basic nudity” or the TV show Game of Thrones, a pornographic fantasy show that was recently exposed as pushing women into nude scenes.

Of course, Brammer’s bill identifies porn as a toxic substance like cigarettes—the strategy of modeling our cultural response to porn after the successful campaigns against smoking has been advocated by researcher Dr. Mary Anne Layden, the director of education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy. Porn’s defenders call it speech, while many experts—and Rep. Brammer—are identifying it as a toxic substance warping the minds of the young. If Brammer is right—and he is—then attaching a warning to pornography makes sense for precisely the same reasons that attaching a warning to cigarette packs does. For those reasons, Brammer is confident that Bill 243 could withstand a legal challenge.

“I think they’ve got an uphill battle in the state of Utah to fight against an obscenity law like this,” he said. “We’re not banning their speech. We’re just asking them to put a warning label before they show it.”

That, of course, is too much to ask of the porn industry, which wants to get kids addicted to their poison young and keep them clicking through adolescence and adulthood. Perhaps Utah will strike the first blow against the alliance of libertarians, porn-peddlers, and progressives that keep this filth on screens in front of young people across the nation. 

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews Dr. Christopher Yuan, a former drug addict who lived a promiscuous gay lifestyle. Dr. Yuan is now a professor at Moody Bible Institute and today, he discusses his powerful journey and conversion and what the LGBT agenda is to the US. You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below: 


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Jonathon Van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.