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Utah ceremonially declares porn a 'public health crisis'

Published April 20, 2016 7:32 am

Bills' signing requires no action or funding, but politicians say businesses should "do the right thing" to curb access.
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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert wants the world to know the state's position on pornography: It's a public health crisis.

"We realize this is a bold assertion and there are some out there who will disagree with us," Herbert said at a Tuesday news conference. "We're here to say it is, in fact, the full-fledged truth."

Herbert ceremoniously signed the resolution, sponsored by state Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, Tuesday at the Utah Capitol.

But that resolution has no practical effect.

It "is nonbinding," Weiler said. "We're not spending money, and we're not banning anything."

Weiler said kids as young as 12 are being exposed to porn in places such as the library and fast-food restaurants, using the facilities' unprotected, free Wi-Fi.

He has said he would like the government to work with internet providers to allow pornography only on an opt-in basis.

For now, though, Weiler's not advocating action by the government.

"I'm asking businesses and governmental agencies that cater to children to do the right thing," he said.

Brian Willoughby, a Brigham Young University professor, said Tuesday the resolution will start the conversation about pornography and the effects it has on society. For example, he said, studies have linked pornography to increased sexual aggression and lower relationship well-being.

But the state's intention is not to limit Utahns' First Amendment rights, Herbert said.

The governor wants individuals to have the facts about porn, he said, "so they can make the correct decision in their own life."

Plus, Weiler added, if someone has a right to view porn, "What about my First Amendment right to not see it if I choose not to?"

Herbert also signed a measure Tuesday requiring computer technicians to report to police any child pornography they find while working.

astuckey@sltrib.com Twitter: @alexdstuckey






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