A favorite pass time of mine on this blog is focusing on hypocrisy. Nowhere does hypocrisy intersect more than with conservative strains of religion and politicians who sell their souls to religious zealots and extremists. Typically, hypocrisy is at its highest in the Bible Belt where despite feigned religiosity, one finds the highest divorce rates, the most teen pregnancies, the highest effort to slash the social safety net, and high Internet porn usage. But there is another state where one sees similar hypocrisy: Utah, home of the Mormon Church where Internet porn usage is off the charts. Like political whores elsewhere, Utah politicians have launched a campaign to save the states sexually repressed and sexually frustrated citizens from themselves waging war on Internet porn. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the rank hypocrisy. Here are excerpts:
In a unanimous vote, the Utah House of Representatives passed a resolution this week branding pornography a public health hazard; a crisis its citizens need to be protected from.The resolution calls for “education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation,” but does not offer any solutions. This from a state that ranked number one in online porn subscriptions, according to a 2009 Harvard study.
Renowned New York City sex therapist Dr. Stephen Snyder says the availability of internet porn is not any more of a problem than other socioeconomic issues Americans today face, including stagnant middle class wages and the continued decline of the two-parent household. “Any time you put limits on what can be communicated about sex, you increase the potential for sexual shame—which let’s face it, is already pretty high for most Americans even under the best of circumstances,” says Dr. Snyder. “And whenever you increase sexual shame, you’re going to see an increase in compulsive sexual activity, whether it's compulsive porn use or any other kind. Shame is rocket fuel for compulsions.”
The heavily-Mormon state seems to have a love-hate relationship with pornography, and a sense of shame over it as well. Here, the desire for porn has also birthed a plethora of anti-porn groups to combat the evils of consumption. On March 12th, the Utah Coalition Against Pornography held its 14th annual conference in Salt Lake City. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church, was one of its keynote speakers—and likened porn to the plague.
“Pornography ought to be seen like a public health crisis; like a war; like an infectious, fatal epidemic; like a moral plague on the body politic that is maiming the lives of our citizens,” said Holland . Concerned for future generations, anti-pornography groups like the Utah-based non-profit, Fight the New Drug lecture at high schools on pornography’s so-called deleterious effects. Unfortunately, no one seems to be lecturing about STDs at these same high schools. Are the perceived dangers of pornography worse than the threat of STDs?
In lieu of sex-ed, most of Utah’s schools continue to offer abstinence-only programs and prohibit public school teachers from encouraging contraceptives, which could be why chlamydia was the most frequently reported communicable disease in Utah in 2011. Two-thirds of those cases were among 15 to 24 year olds.
However, Utah Senator Todd Weiler isn’t advocating for the expansion of sex-ed. He instead wants policies that further protect underage consumers from pornography, admitting in the resolution he’s spearheaded that “exposure to pornography often serves as childrens’ and youths’ sex education and shapes their sexual templates.” Porn should not fill those educational voids abstinence-only programs create, but in the absence of information, unfortunately, it does. When kids have questions no one will answer they don’t head for a stack of well-worn encyclopedias—they search for it online.
“People like to preach their religious ideologies about family values, saving the kids, and making sure they still have good moral fiber which they say porn destroys, but I could make the same argument for social media,” says adult actor Derrick Pierce. “Those same kids that are told sex is bad, don’t do it, it’s only for reproduction, when those kids get older and figure out they can make their own choices, they do and they make them tenfold because they want to know what all the fuss is about.”
Weiler’s resolution is “a half-measure and a diva-esque attempt to grab headlines” says award winning adult performer and director, Tanya Tate. “If Weiler were truly committed, he would look at Harvard’s 2009 study that found Utah’s religious residents were the nation’s top consumers of online porn and work on religion and the reason it drives so many in his home state to explore porn,” says Tate.