Utah protests against being aroused

By Mike Butler
March 1, 2001

by Mike Butler

As you can probably tell from my previous columns (like my article on panda porn and the 8-year-old cat killer), I don’t get my news from traditional news sources. I get my news from www.portalofevil.com,a Website that finds strange news from all around the web (among other things as well). And it was on a recent visit there that I found this little gem.

Like most of the north Atlantic states, Utah was founded by religious extremists, and it still shows to this very day. On President’s Day, 400 Utah students took their day off and used it to march to the state Capitol to rally against pornography. The only problem was they had no consensus on what pornography actually was. One high school senior called it “R-rated movies” while a sophomore said it was Michelangelo’s “David.” One of the organizers of the rally wasn’t concerned that there were a wide variety of interpretations of what was porn. He just remarked that they knew what porn was and that they wanted to keep it away from their kids.

This is the culmination of an anti-pornography movement that has been taking place in the state founded by Mormons. Recently, Utah officials appointed Paula Houston as porn czar (or in her case, czarina) to be the state’s “obscenity and pornography ombudsman.” I had to look up ombudsman as it is not one of the 50-cent words I like to throw out in conversation. I found that it means someone who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements between “aggrieved parties.” But from what I’ve read about Houston, she’s making it her job to eliminate pornography from Utah. This is hardly a person who should have a title containing the term “fair settlement” in its definition. I think “porn Nazi” would suit her better.

In terms of the legality of banning porn, the Supreme Court has ruled that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment, but the law states that pornography is “material that has no scientific, artistic or political value and appeals only to prurient interests.” I am not ashamed to tell you that I had to look up “prurient” considering “ombudsman” is a word used almost exclusively in Scandinavian countries. “Prurient” means lustful. Now we enter into a tricky area because what is lustful to one person may not be lustful to someone else, kind of like how death is a somber event to some but for others it’s a riotously hilarious time.

I have no problem with people having convictions, but you have to be adequately prepared to defend them on an intellectual level. Former Utah Attorney General Frank Mylar called for Utah’s officials “to fight the smut industry with the same fervor they have shown against big tobacco” and also added that “I would rather have my child smoke a pack a day than get hooked on pornography.” Great, so you would rather have your child get lung cancer rather than watch “Debbie Does Dallas.” If I had to choose between porno and smoking, I’d choose the one that doesn’t lead to a tracheotomy. With reasoning like his, it’s no wonder that Mylar lost his bid to be attorney general last November.

Another rally organizer, Amy Fielding ,of the group Homes Offering Moral Empowerment (H.O.M.E.), defined porn “as anything that arouses passion among teens.” Apparently this woman was born without hormones since teenagers have passion aroused in them pretty much every day. So I guess that boy who is really passionate about baseball is participating in pornography as he spends all his free time in the batting cages practicing his heart out. “It is the media — all the media — that stirs up those desires,” Fielding also said. Using her logic, it’s not the girl in the front row of your math class with the short skirt that’s making you interested in prurient ventures with her, it’s that episode of “Touched by an Angel” you watched the previous night.

After the rally, the students signed a pledge to stay away from pornographic images “and to avoid products marketed with suggestive or titillating advertisements.” I had a good sarcastic response to the above sentence, but there is no font that would properly convey its detractive nature. Instead, I will say this: pornography does not look for you, you look for it. The only place this isn’t true is in the realm of e-mail, but porn e-mail can easily be deleted without having to look at it. But aside from that, you could go your entire life and not see one pornographic movie or magazine if you didn’t want to. On the Internet (of which pornography is the backbone. Take it away and the whole thing crumbles), there are filters you can use on search engines that prevent you from getting search results about barely legal teens taking it in every orifice when you go searching for such subjects like Britney Spears or the cotton gin.

To quote political musical satirist Tom Lehrer: “Dirty books are fun. That’s all there is to it. But you can’t get up in a court and say that, I suppose.” Maybe we should start saying that in court before people start thinking Utah has a good idea. Never underestimate the power of half-wits in large numbers.

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Mike Butler

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