A Virginia Lawmaker Wants Porn Declared A ‘Public Health Hazard’

A Virginia lawmaker wants to have porn declared a public health hazard.

A Virginia lawmaker, Bob Marshall, says porn should be declared a “public health hazard,” a measure that would likely have little to no practical effect on Virginians’ access to pornography.

As WTVR-TV (Richmond) reports, the Republican lawmaker believes that pornography is at the root of a variety of societal ills, including sexualization of teenagers and normalization of violence and abuse of women. In younger adolescents and children, Marshall says, exposure to pornography leads to low self-esteem and body image issues.

A Virginia lawmaker wants porn declared a public health hazard.

“When you see more of these episodes of teens texting pictures to each other, there’s obviously an obsession or fixation on the body as an object, not a person. It’s not very helpful for social relations or later development of a family. I thought, lets draw a line in the sand.”

In a practical sense, however, Marshall’s proposal would mean next to nothing. It puts no restrictions on the viewing, production, purchasing or dissemination of pornography in Virginia, nor does it allocate any money. However, declaring porn a public health hazard may “shape future policy” regarding porn, according to GayRVA.

Conservatives And Porn

Virginia is not the first state to consider legislation in response to pornography. In fact, Marshall seems to be following in the footsteps of Utah, right down to the language he chose to advance his proposed legislation. As The Washington Post reported in April, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, declared porn a “public health crisis.”

“[This resolution lets] our young people to know that there’s a particularly psychological and physiological detriment that comes from addiction to pornography.”

Like Virginia’s proposal, Utah’s declaration has absolutely no practical effect on Utahns’ access to porn.

South Carolina, however, has attempted to take things a step further. As reported by The Inquisitr, representative Bill Chumley, a Republican, has filed a bill that would require manufacturers to install porn-blocking software on all computers sold in The Palmetto State. Manufacturers could opt out, after paying a $20 fee; similarly, users who didn’t want the software on their devices could pay a $20 fee to have it removed.

As of this writing, Chumley’s bill has not yet been considered by the South Carolina legislature.

The Futility Of Legislating Against Pornography

Pornography has been a part of the internet almost as long as the first bits of data were transmitted across telephone lines in the early days of the internet. And for almost as long, lawmakers have tried and failed to ban, regulate, or restrict it. They have experienced failure at almost every turn in state and national legislatures, and in the courts.

By making public declarations against porn, says Washington Post writer Amber Phillips, the hope is that focusing attention on porn’s supposed public health impacts may yet lead to regulation or even prohibition.

Is Porn Really Harmful To Society?

The answer to that will depend almost entirely on whom you ask. To anti-porn advocates, it’s all but indisputable that teen sexting, provocatively-dressed pop stars, sexual violence, and a host of other issues are all a direct result of the ubiquity of pornography. Supporters of the availability of pornography say that porn actually helps enhance adults’ relationships.

And if you think you’re going to get answers in the scientific research, you’re out of luck.

“There are studies that claim to show a link between pornography and a myriad of sexual, mental and emotional problems. And there are studies that claim to show porn watching actually helps people’s relationships.”

Regardless of the raging debate, it seems as if pornography may be poised to become the latest conservative hot-button issue.

Do you believe Virginia is right to declare pornography a “public health crisis?”

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