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The Great State of Utah is Back At It Again

From the ‘you have a right to be stupid and I have a right to call you stupid’ department…

The great state of Utah has a porn problem.

Sorry, let me rephrase… Some politicians in Utah have an issue with a constitutionally protected form of speech because they personally dislike that speech.

Utah Senator Todd Weiler has proposed a bill to rid the state of porn by adding Internet filters and anti-porn software on all cell phones and requiring citizens to opt-in before viewing porn online. It’s to save the children, he says.

Weiler successfully pushed an anti-porn resolution through the state Senate earlier this year, declaring porn a “public health crisis.” He now hopes to take his movement a step further by making it harder for Utah citizens to have access to digital porn.

“A cell phone is basically a vending machine for pornography,” Weiler told TechCrunch, using the example of cigarettes sold in vending machines and easily accessed by children decades ago.


As an artist myself, I always find it personally offensive when people attempt to stop people from enjoying art simply because they personally dislike it. I will not personally stand for such stupid behavior. Stupid behavior is stupid.

From a Moral Artists Perspective

So, if everybody got to use the government and the implicit threat of force to get their way and ban things they personally do not like what do you think would happen to our world?
Do you think that The Big Bang Theory would exist? Sorry no, people hate that show so no Big Bang Theory for you. That statue of Lenin that you find aesthetically appealing? Sorry, no, get rid of it. That bland landscape painting hanging on your wall? Illegal, destroy it immediately.

That is the abstract of the situation… what actually happens, is that instead of all groups getting to ban stuff they don’t like, is one small group of people wins out over everybody else and you now have to abide by their personal tastes. Your tastes not only become irrelevant to these people, but also illegal… and that my friends, is wildly immoral. The thought that you get to force your thoughts, feelings, and tastes on others without their consent is just downright perverted and wrong.

around the world and here at home, free speech is under assault. From the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris to the “unexplained” deaths of critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin, people who express unpopular opinions or report the truth are in danger. Worldwide, more than 110 journalists were killed in 2015, bringing the total to 787 since 2005, according to Reporters without Borders.


But, that is the reality of our current world. People are constantly trying to force themselves on others… constantly trying to force them to all think the same and talk the same and act the same…

You may think that I’m being obtuse or overly dramatic… but I’m not.

The fact that people who merely report the news are being disappeared by people like Putin, the fact that I’ve personally seen Bloomberg delete several paragraphs of mild criticism of a politician in its own article in real-time, should disturb you. It’s the proverbial slippery slope and it seems society is slipping.

From a Technical Aspect

This plan is not only morally stupid as shit, it’s also technically such a pain in the butt Utah better be prepared to get sued by a deluge of companies that do not want to comply with such onerous rules.

Utah would become a single market, fractured from the rest of the United States. It’d require special software, a whole compliance department, it’d force companies to waste millions on worthless work. We’ve already seen an abstract version of this happen in Berkeley California…

Last year, the city passed a municipal ordinance requiring that a retailer provide, either in the form of a mounted poster or as a printed handout, this message:

The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice:

To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

Berkeley Municipal Code § 9.96.030(A)
Shortly thereafter, the city was sued by CTIA, the wireless trade group, in an attempt to halt the law on the grounds that it was in violation of the First Amendment—the government was compelling speech by requiring retailers to display the notice. That language was based on warnings and notices already provided by the Federal Communications Commission.


It’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison… but still. The end effect is something similar. Mobile carriers have to specifically modify their practices for a single small market.

And to top off the corporate push-back on the technical issues of implementing this Utah politician’s plan… a million and one workarounds to any software the State forced to be installed on phones would become available the very second the plan goes live. It’s such a ridiculously futile attempt at censorship that it’s honestly laughable.

On top of the fundamental flaws of software, what about hardware? What will stop people from importing phones form other states into Utah?
Will Utah also force phone companies to have a Utah specific sim card? Further fracturing the market and probably violating federal law in one abstract way or another? Will they simply throw people in jail for having a ‘foreign’ phone? Give people $1000 fines after the Utah State Patrol does random ‘Phone Inspection Stops’?
Are you seeing the stupidity here???

People will always find a way…

From a Porn Business Aspect

None of this really matters that much… both the software and the politicians mouthing off. It’s all very, very, old news. Even if this politician’s idea came into force, it won’t have an appreciable effect on sales inside Utah or outside Utah.

Ever since somebody went ‘wow gee I want to take a picture of you nude Molly!‘ people have called for various implementations of a porn / erotica ban. It’s never worked out, people have always found a way, and eventually people realize it is in fact immoral to tell other people what they should and should not like. The art-form survives.


To End

It’s like none of these people’s grandmas taught them MYOB.

Mind Your Own Business.


Other Articles of Note

Lawmakers From The Great Theocracy Of Utah Looking To Block Porn On Cell Phones

This is where we’d usually talk about how this sort of thing is almost certainly unconstitutional, not to mention how easily circumvented the attempt would be. And both of those remain true for this case. But I would like to instead focus on the lazy analogies Weiler chooses to make and let them serve as an example of how easily twisted people’s opinions can become if you simply add “saving the children” to the goals of a particular piece of legislation.

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