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Fr. Mark Hodges

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Porn ruins lives, so families should be able to sue for damages: Utah legislator

Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, January 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A state lawmaker believes that those who promote pornography to children and teens should be punished by society.

Utah state Senator Todd Weiler says pornographers know that their products harm users, spouses, family, and even careers, and yet they put greed above the well-being of people, society, and even American culture. In March 2016, he successfully proposed a resolution describing pornography as a “public health hazard.”

Weiler acknowledges that porn is legal and voluntary, but he thinks those whose lives have been ruined by pornography should be allowed to sue porn producers.

“The average age of first exposure to hardcore sex videos on the Internet is now the age of 11. To pretend that this is not having any impact on our youth, on children’s minds as they’re developing, as their attitudes towards sex and the opposite sex are being formed, I think is foolish,” he told KSL.com.

The senator proposes that children and teenagers who develop an addiction to pornography be given legal remedy against internet porn manufacturers and promoters through the courts.  

Noting that for more than 50 years the U.S. legal code has permitted those whose health was severely harmed or whose lives were cut short by smoking have been allowed to sue tobacco companies, Weiler says younger consumers of pornography are knowingly and intentionally taken advantage of by porn merchants.

"If a company puts pornographic images out there where my child can get a hold of it, then I should have the right to sue the company," Crossroads Church Pastor Noah Filipiak concurred. "We know that pornography causes a warped view of the opposite sex which leads to all kind of relationship problems, but it can also lead to depression and serious medical problems."

Pastor Filipiak, who hosts a blog offering hope to those addicted to porn, agreed with  Weiler that "a company needs to be held responsible for these things and in our culture, the most feasible way to do that is financially."

The state senator is quick to qualify his proposal as not criminalizing or censoring pornography. Like legal tobacco use, Weiler pinpoints the harm that porn does to the vulnerable, and simply allows damaged people to recoup compensation.

“It’s not government coming in and saying what you can and can't watch," Weiler pointed out. "It’s just basically a message to the pornography industry that if someone in Utah can prove damages from the product that they may be held liable financially.”

Weiler estimates that early cases will be dismissed but eventually, when society sees the merciless devastation that pornography inflicts — especially on the most vulnerable members of society — some cases might be won.

Weiler's proposal is not without opposition, even among Christians who recognize the adverse effects of porn.

Craig Gross takes his Gospel message of freedom from porn straight to its perpetrators themselves. He started "XXXChurch" by renting a booth at the 2002 Adult Video News Expo, talking directly to porn producers, porn stars, porn manufacturers, porn promoters, and porn distributors.

"We never wanted to legislate, picket, protest like so many have tried," Gross told LifeSiteNews. "That doesn't work and is … why so many people hate Christian groups."

"We show up in their world because we care," Gross explained. "We find many people inside porn and people who watch porn are conflicted, so we try and offer help, love, support, and resources."

More than just offering a different approach, Gross actually opposes legislation against pornography, because it doesn’t address a deeper need that porn supplies temporary and destructive relief for users. "Bringing lawsuits doesn't do anything to the fact that you still want to look at porn," he said.

His conclusion is that those tempted by porn must deal with the deeper issue or issues that drive them to the relationship killer. "If more people would own their own issues and deal with it themselves rather than passing the blame on someone else, we would be better off," Gross said.

Weiler believes America needs to admit that pornography is physically, psychologically, relationally, and societally harmful. His March 2016 resolution recognized porn not only as a "public health hazard" but as "leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms,” including the objectifying of women and children.

Noting porn's drug-like effects on brain development and functioning, the Utah Senate resolution says that pornography creates “a sexually toxic environment” and fosters moral delinquency through the “hyper-sexualization” of young children and teens.

Weiler is also proposing legislation for pornography filters on computers and WiFi in public, tax-funded libraries that children often patronize.

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