Governor Gary R. Herbert signed a resolution on Tuesday declaring pornography a “public health crisis” in the state of Utah. The governor hopes the resolution will encourage the more open discussion about the negative effects of pornography.
“We hope that people hear and heed this voice of warning,” Herbert said at a signing ceremony. “For our citizens know that there are real health risks that are involved and associated with viewing pornography.”
The resolution stated that “due to advances in technology and the universal availability of the Internet, young children are exposed to what used to be referred to as hard core, but is now considered mainstream, pornography at an alarming rate.” The resolution also described pornography as an endemic that “normalizes violence and abuse of women and children.”
“We now have the social sciences at least to kind of show what is happening and we now have a whole generation who has grow up with some of the most despicable pornographic images on their computers,” said Todd Weiler, the Republican senator who sponsored the resolution. “I think most people today know that if they start using something like heroin or meth, they know that they have a risk of becoming addicted to it, but some people don’t know that about pornography.”
The resolution had its critics. The Free Speech Coalition, an adult entertainment trade group, insisted that people who watch pornography are more likely to have progressive opinions about women’s rights and sexuality.
“The true public health crisis are socially conservative politicians like these who have fought adequate, science-based sexual health education for over 35 years,” the coalition said. “We should live in a society where sexuality is spoken about openly, and discussed in nuanced and educated ways, and not stigmatized.”
The resolution is non-binding and receives no public funding so it is largely symbolic in nature. However, Herbert recently signed into a law a measure that sets new reporting standards for computer technicians who find child pornography on any computers or devices they are repairing. Technicians who fail to do so risk being penalized.