Sex Trafficking

The Hypocritical Logic Behind Republican Plans to Ban Online Porn (Unless You Pay $20)

State lawmakers say porn is a public health crisis that causes rape and sex trafficking-but watch all you want as long as the state gets a cut.

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Alvaro Delgado Ramos painting via Album / Oronoz/Newscom

Draft bills in at least 13 state legislatures would require all internet-enabled devices to come installed with an anti-porn filter, which adult consumers could choose to have removed for a fee of $20. They're calling it the Human Trafficking Prevention Act. The Daily Beast does a nice job today of exposing the huckster behind this legislation, a 40-year-old EDM musician and anti-porn crusader named Chris Sevier who tried to marry his computer in protest of same-sex marriage, was released early from an Iraq tour for mental-health issues, sued Apple over the dissolution of his marriage, and has been charged with harassing a teen girl as well as country singer John Rich.

Beyond Sevier's questionable and colorful past, however, a bigger question remains: why are so many state lawmakers—overwhelming Republican—supporting this sort of nonsense? A cabal of legislative cheerleaders from Alabama to Wyoming has embraced the idea that we should require manufacturers of computers, tablets, iphones, smart TVs, and the like to equip devices with the anti-porn filters and require consumers to pay to remove the filters from their devices. South Carolina state Rep. Mike Burns, who co-sponsored one bill in his state, told the Beast that they "do not want more taxes. Period. But we are trying to make a statement, and $20 ain't gonna kill anybody."

But of course it's not only monetary costs to consumers that are are a concern. The porn-filter proposal would also impose costs on product makers, and even steeper costs on U.S. civil liberties. "The way it's written, it would cover your router. It would cover your modem," said Electronic Frontier Foundation researcher Dave Maass. "Plus, now Best Buy is sitting on a database of people who wanted their porn filters removed."

And then there's question of how the filters would decide what is and isn't porn—content filters designed to catch explicit content have historically been harsh on all sorts of sexuality-related content, from educational websites to news to art.

Conservative lawmakers seem to support anti-porn proposals like this one because they please certain segments of their electoral base, give people easy fodder against lawmakers who vote in opposition (how does it look at a glance to be against the Human Trafficking Prevention Act?), and aren't generally a political dealbreaker for those who oppose the plans. The porn-filter laws might irk some or seem silly, but like Rep. Burns said, "$20 ain't gonna kill anybody."

This justification might make sense if the idea was simply a tax on porn consumers. But the porn-filter bill is explicitly packaged as a response to porn being a "public health hazard" and "cancer on society" that "perpetuates a sexually toxic environment" in America, normalizes violence against women and children, "portrays rape and abuse as if such acts are harmless," promotes "problematic or harmful sexual behaviors," and "increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography."

If Republican lawmakers really believe that online pornography is a public health crisis that directly contributes to human trafficking, isn't $20 to access an unlimited quantity of it a bit low? Why shouldn't such a scourge just be banned entirely? Much like liberal counterparts who declare Donald Trump a fascist/Nazi/white supremacist and themselves the #Resistance and then demand more government control of broadcast media, arts funding, etc., conservative lawmakers demonstrate an extreme dissonance of rhetoric and response here. It leaves open three possibilities:

  • Republicans really believe that internet porn is a public health crisis that ruins relationships and directly leads to human trafficking—and also that paying $20 absolves one of moral responsibility for such matters.
  • Republicans believe porn is a public health crisis that causes sexual exploitation and the $20 fee proposal is just a ploy to get the law passed and filtering mechanisms in place with minimal objection, after which it will be much easier to mandate a fee increase or make it a crime to override the filter.
  • Republicans don't actually believe that porn is a public health crisis that causes human trafficking.

Take your pick.

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  1. now Best Buy is sitting on a database of people who wanted their porn filters removed.”

    As though if Best Buy would work in conjunction with the FBI

    1. I always though Best Buy sale associates are overly eager.

  2. South Carolina state Rep. Mike Burns, who co-sponsored one bill in his state, told the Beast that they “do not want more taxes. Period. But we are trying to make a statement, and $20 ain’t gonna kill anybody.”

    That statement is…?

    1. Racist. Because like voter ID, poor minorities won’t have the resources or aptitude to get their porn back. Unlike sharp, affluent porn consumers like you and I.

    2. Only it isn’t just one $20 bill.

      It’s $20 per internet-capable device you want to unblock. Plus the added cost of installing a porn filter on every internet-capable device you own.

      1. Will there be a senior discount?

        1. Medicare will cover it.

  3. paying $20 absolves one of moral responsibility

    So team red skimmed the sparknotes on Morality for Dummies?

  4. However this filter is supposed to work, it will be easily defeated within probably about 10 minutes of the first purchase without the need to pay $20

  5. My question — what does cause REAL human trafficking? Not just trafficking as defined by the state, but the international Shanghai-ing of girls that all trafficking should rightfully be framed as.

    I want to say criminal syndicates, but I’ve had my eyes opened from reading ENB pieces on this subject matter that shows most cases classified as trafficking isn’t REALLY trafficking as imagined in public perception. It must happen though.

    Real human trafficking is still buried in shadow for all my understanding is concerned.

    1. I think that the people pushing all of the “human trafficking” stuff lately are doing a real disservice to people who are actually forced into prostitution. It’s pretty disgusting, really. I’d really like to know who is doing the actual human trafficking and how much it actually happens as well. But there are people who have been working hard to conflate all prostitution with human trafficking and that makes it very difficult to find numbers you can trust.

      1. My thoughts exactly; it’s damn dishonorable to equate sex workers of their own volition to sex slaves held in captivity through use of force.

        Sadly this train has just left the station and hasn’t even reached top speed yet.

      2. It’s also served to confuse an entire generation. I’ve now read or heard three accounts where people are either dead, likely dead or were about to be dead who thought (or loved ones thought) that surely they were human trafficked, and are sitting in brothel somewhere, we just haven’t found them yet.

      3. I couldn’t agree more. It’s a very safe way for politicians to anoint themselves as “tough on crime.” Also, many of the activists can feign being “victim advocates” while indirectly promoting themselves and a socially conservative agenda.

      4. Sex-related policy is always a fallback for politicians in both parties. It’s a safe bet, even when the law worsens the problem it supposedly addresses and/or is wholly ineffective. Just get a bigger sledgehammer and play to the public’s hysteria. Works every time.

    2. In reality human trafficking is nearly nonexistent; like serial killers or the snuff film industry, it’s a rare phenomenon that captures the public imagination but is statistically negligible in its impact.

      It defies logic really. Voluntary prostitution via the internet rendered pimps and brothers (and therefore sex trafficking) obsolete. The cops are basically running around looking for super secret underground horse drawn carriage races that they insist are everywhere.

      1. Hey, go easy on the brothers, they ain’t all in on the game!

    3. Toppling Libyan dictators can enable traffickers. Look at the slave markets that have popped up in that hellhole.

  6. “I wish to purchase access to the database of those who paid the fee.”

  7. AT $20 a shot, they’d raise millions in revenues off of So-Cons alone.

    1. And not a dollar from pussy-assed millenial men…

      1. Oh they still surf porn. They just need an additional wad of toilet paper for the tears of shame.

  8. $20 per device x hundreds of millions of consumers is just a fucking gold mine. No way this legislation does not pass across the board.

    Just the opinion of a jaded man.

    1. Just the opinion of a jaded man.

      The one-time fee will evolve into a recurring fee that requires active cancellation. Additional riders and fees may also be incurred and the State is not responsible for any penalties or overdraft charges enforced by your bank as the result of this action.

    2. Yeah, where does that $20 go?

      1. To finance the police war on human trafficking…

        so cops can but sex with hookers.

  9. a 40-year-old EDM musician

    Fyi, this is often another way of saying “unemployed”.

  10. If Republican lawmakers really believe that online pornography is a public health crisis that directly contributes to human trafficking, isn’t $20 to access an unlimited quantity of it a bit low? Why shouldn’t such a scourge just be banned entirely?

    Elizabeth Nolan Brown, meet the Master Settlement Agreement, Master Settlement Agreement, meet Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

  11. This is the problem with Republicans. People get pissed at Democrats, so Republicans are voted in sweeping numbers. Republicans take this as a moral prerogative to implement religious and ridiculous social violations of the Constitution.

    Look at the bright side, as the Democratic Party implodes and people get fed up with Republicans implementing ridiculous Libertarians are the alternative to socialists and socially restrictive laws.

    1. Be nice to think that. I used to. Much more likely is voters will follow their Teams into the bowels of statist hell.

    2. Yep, instead of taking the opportunity to gut taxes, regulations, and reduce the physical size of government, they come up with brain dead nuisance regulations.

      It’s just like watching the third act of a ‘Gilligan’s Island’ episode. You’re just waiting to how Gillian is going to screw the group out of getting off the island again.

  12. why are so many state lawmakers?overwhelming Republican?supporting this sort of nonsense?

    Cuz Republicans gonna Republican prude?

    1. Republican lawmakers settled on $20 because that’s the going rate of a bathroom blowjob.

  13. questionable and colorful past

    Never let crazy stick it in you.

  14. I presume there would have to be a Federal Ministry of Porn to constantly browse the web looking for websites to add to the filters. Suddenly I might want to be a government worker.

  15. Why not use the same logic for drugs and abortions ? It is immoral and hence illegal but hey you can pay $20 and have as much POT as you want.

  16. So there is potentially more snooping on Internet browsing and / or increased cost for Internet access due to ISP filtering.
    Furthermore, is there a possibility that a person paying the $20 inadvertently enrolls on some sex-offenser list?
    And if a human browser in another state inadvertently accesses a website hosted by the filtering states, must they pay the $20 to avoid ‘enrollment’.

    If so, is the $20 a potential deduction for out-of-state tax returns – it is a state tax after all!

    1. Pretty sure enrolling everyone who pays or tries to visit a Bad Thought Site on a sex offender list is the entire point of this. There is no inadvertently. And at first it will be porn and terrorism. Then drugs. Then abortion. Then the “homosexual agenda”. Then women’s health. Then climate science. You know, like exactly what’s already happened with porn filter lists.

      It will be a tax deduction, but to qualify you’ll need to be in the $250,000 individual or $500,000 married tax brackets. Reducing the tax burden on anyone besides the 1% is downright UnAmerican you know (and sites advocating otherwise will also be on the filter list).

  17. And the GOP wonders why people are afraid of them.

  18. This is a terrible cancer on society! So give us a cut and keep going.

  19. Draft bills in at least 13 state legislatures would require all internet-enabled devices to come installed with an anti-porn filter, which adult consumers could choose to have removed for a fee of $20.

    I have no idea what this even means. What’s an “Internet-enabled device”? What’s an “anti-porn filter”? What’s “porn”?

  20. Had a festive conversation with “Chris”. Apparently Chris’ father is a big wig in Alabama and is close with Jeff Sessions. It was rumored that Chris had direct ties to the filtering software as well.

    Chris also went into detail that websites like Craigslist and Victoria secret’s would be considered porn.

    Money collected from the tax would go to help kids in the sex trade. Yet the money is going into a secret acct and the qualifications seem to not be defined as to exactly what constitutes “help”.

    God help the poor soul who wants to run for office! That $20 tax you paid to sell your mom’s old furniture will be the best blackmail since The Clintons became popular!

  21. The insanity never stops…

    1. Well, the old style prudishness is at least a little easier to understand than the new cultural Marxist feminist social justice warrior stuff.

      With the old prudishness, naked breasts, asses, pussies, and dicks were all consistently bad.

      With the new cultural Marxism, naked breasts, asses, and pussies are both bad and not bad, depending on context and intersectionality. (Dicks of course are simple: they are still always bad.)

      1. They are but two sides of the same coin. The SJWs are the acid side of Two Face.

  22. I’m thinking politicians, rusty dildos….

  23. Just another way for the government to pick your pockets, and proof Republicans are liars. If you truly believe porn is bad, how can 20 bucks make it okay?

  24. At first, the radical feminists and Republicans warned that pornography would lead to more rape. They’ve been forced to ease back on that rhetoric after decades of declining rape statistics. Now, human trafficking is their current move, i.e grasping at straws.

  25. 75 people across 13 states.

    Have we redefined ‘so many’? Because this looks a helluvalot more like ‘so few’

  26. More evidence-free, bad law being pushed forward. I’d like to hear the NSNs’ (Nanny State Nationalists) take on this.

  27. “$20 ain’t gonna kill anybody” is a great argument to pass almost anything. $20 per American adult is something like $4.8 billion. You can get a ton of useless shit for $5 billion, doesn’t make it right.

    If I recall the original federal grant for the Cali high-speed rail experiment was something like $3 billion, right? That ain’t gonna kill anybody.

    Comparatively speaking, the Great Cheese Stockpile of 2016 looks pretty damn good at 8 cents per adult. That ain’t gonna kill anybody.

  28. “do not want more taxes. Period. But we are trying to make a statement, and $20 ain’t gonna kill anybody.”

    So, they do not want more taxes on principle but think using legislation and forced taxation is A-OK for making a social statement?

  29. “If Republican lawmakers really believe that online pornography is a public health crisis that directly contributes to human trafficking, isn’t $20 to access an unlimited quantity of it a bit low?”

    Take 2 of State Lotteries. And?.. action!

  30. The real answer to human trafficking is to legalize prostitution and focus on those forcing people into sex work. Once you have introduced a legitimate alternative to sex slaves no one will want them and it will be far easier to identify the shady ones.

    1. They won’t do that because it makes too much sense.

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