You’d Have to Pay $20 to Watch Porn Under These Bills By Christian Conservatives

If you want to watch pornography, or other “obscene content,” you’d have to pay a $20 access fee under a bill that’s been considered or discussed in every state.

It seems like every other day, we hear about a conservative Christian politician engaging in an extramarital affair or sexually abusing a child, but those are the people who want to put a fee on access to porn. The question is: will they be their own biggest customers?

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The legislation being considered is called the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” and it would require manufactures to filter out porn on cell phones, laptops, and tablets until the owner pays a $20 fee. (The bill doesn’t state whether the fee, which is essentially a porn tax, is paid annually or every time you want to access it.)

There are only six states that haven’t introduced a version of this incredibly flawed bill in recent years, but the latest to put one forth is Virginia.

Virginia House Bill 1592 is also known as The Human Trafficking Prevention Act.

Lawmakers who proposed the bill said that by making pornography less accessible on the internet it will reduce the amount of human trafficking.

Terrie Foss of Virginia agrees with the bill.

“If people want to view pornography that’s their prerogative but by having it free it makes it too tempting for other people on the web to have access that can be influenced in a negative way,” said Foss.

First of all, there is exactly zero empirical evidence that a $20 fee on pornography would do anything to affect human trafficking or modern-day slavery. The bill doesn’t say anything about where the money goes, other than to the state, or how that could work to the benefit of Americans.

There also isn’t any strong data showing that watching pornography impacts people in a negative way, so the bill itself is based on faulty science. As HuffPost’s Andy Campbell noted this past April, people have been noticing that the act is filled with fabrications, citations of faulty studies, and propaganda from anti-porn groups.

But the Human Trafficking Prevention Act relies on the resolution to declare that “it’s a matter of science” that “pornography is really bad.”

That’s not true. The American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors & Therapists can’t find empirical evidence that sex or porn addiction are mental health issues. The group recommends that therapists and educators don’t tell people that “urges” related to porn are mental problems. Experts acknowledge that pornography triggers reward centers in your brain, but comparing it to alcohol or cigarettes is downright misleading. They say it should be compared to something more like dessert.

The bill has a lot of support across the country, but it also has its critics. People argue that, if signed into law, it would regulate and censor the internet based on conservative Christian values, not science. The ACLU called the bill a violation of the First Amendment.

“This is definitely an attempt to infringe on people’s rights,” said Vera Eidelman, an attorney at ACLU. She called the model legislation “crazy,” noting that lobbyists would like to have a government-managed list of people who had paid to access porn.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation, has also condemned the act. The group says it has “nothing to do with human trafficking and all to do with one man’s crusade against pornography at the expense of free speech.”

The legislation is not only technologically unworkable, it violates the First Amendment and significantly burdens consumers and businesses.

The EFF pointed out that the man who created this legislation, a rabid anti-LGBT activist, is just as troubling as the act itself. He was previously charged with stalking and harassing a 17-year-old girl, and was convicted on assault charges.

Perhaps more shocking is the bill’s provenance. The driving force behind the legislation is a man named Mark Sevier, who has been using the alias “Chris Severe” to contact legislators. According to the Daily Beast, Sevier is a disbarred attorney who has sued major tech companies, blaming them for his pornography addiction, and sued states for the right to marry his laptop. Reporters Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny uncovered a lengthy legal history for Sevier, including an open arrest warrant and stalking convictions, as well as evidence that Sevier misrepresented his own experience working with anti-trafficking non-profits.

This bill is unconstitutional, unworkable, and it comes from a completely untrustworthy source. It isn’t going to help “prevent trafficking,” but it will penalize regular people for enjoying material that is in many cases legal and ethical.

On the bright side, if this passes, there will be a government list of everyone who uses porn, and we can use it to find the names of the legislators who introduced it.

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