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Indecency in Utah


Utah's porn czarina, Paula Houston, says her most important job is to educate. This legislative session she's teaching the legislature that its 12-year-old indecent public display law is unconstitutionally strict.

"I realized that you could not prohibit all nudity for anyone under 18," says Houston, who became the country's first porn czar, officially the "obscenity and pornography complaints ombudsman," last July. "Constitutionally, you had to have an exception if it has any value in it for the child." Houston is working to amend the law to exempt nude material that "when taken as a whole, has serious value for persons younger than 18 years of age."

The reaction has been mixed. "Some citizens would like to prohibit all nudity for children," says Houston, who reports getting far more complaints about Cosmopolitan and In Style magazines than Playboy, Penthouse, or Hustler, since the fashion mags line supermarket checkout aisles. "Others realize that this provision makes sense. A postcard of the statue of David for sale in a store violates the current law."

Houston adds, "Simple nudity is not, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, harmful to children. You can't protect children from everything."