PORN DEEMED HEALTH HAZARD IN TENNESSEE

Baptist Press      

NASHVILLE — At least five states have officially declared pornography a public health crisis or harmful to the public, and at least one other is considering a similar measure, according to bill updates filed on state legislature websites.

A resolution passed by the Tennessee Legislature declaring pornography a public health hazard was awaiting Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature April 21. Days earlier, Tennessee became the fourth state to adopt such a resolution, joining Utah, South Dakota, and Arkansas.

The Virginia General Assembly stopped short of declaring pornography a public health hazard or crisis, but in February passed a resolution that pornography leads to “individual and societal harms.” The Georgia legislature adjourned its 2017 session with two resolutions, both in committees, that would declare pornography a public health crisis.

The resolutions emphasize research showing the harmful effects of pornography and call for education, prevention, and policy changes at the community and societal levels. As resolutions, none of the measures add to criminal offenses regarding pornography nor stipulate any punishment for its use.

When Republican Sen. Mae Beavers introduced Tennessee’s measure in January, she said what was previously considered hardcore pornography has now become main stream. With technology, the average age of exposure to pornography is 11 to 12. She cited Washington State studies showing that as recently as 2004, 24.7 percent of convicted murderers in that state said pornography served as a trigger for their crimes.

Pornography is potentially biologically addictive, Tennessee’s resolution states. The resolution adds that pornography is detrimental to families, discourages young men from marriage, and leads to marital dissatisfaction and infidelity. Pornography treats women as “objects and commodities for the viewer’s use,” “normalizes violence and abuse of women and children,” “increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, and … child pornography,” and may cause emotional, mental, and medical illnesses, the Tennessee measure reads.

The Southern Baptist Convention has passed nearly 25 resolutions that address pornography either directly or indirectly, beginning as early as 1959 and recurring as recently as 2015. Much of pornography is protected by the First Amendment, according to the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, but pornography that falls into the categories of obscenity and child pornography is against the law.

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