The Week In Awfulness Part 1: Brain Rotting In Texas

Sex, lies and bad science as Texas passes a law to restrict porn forcing adult websites to carry spurious health warnings.

Texas is the latest American state to implement age verification rules for adult websites as a means of making such sites impossible to both access and run. The new law HB 1181 – spearheaded by Republicans but enthusiastically supported by Democrats, lest we think that this is strictly a right-wing obsession – creates a new criminal liability for any website when more than one-third of its content is ‘sexual material harmful to minors’ unless the site uses ‘reasonable age verification methods to verify that an individual attempting to access the material is 18 years of age or older.’ How reasonable those methods might have to be and what defines ‘harm’ remain two vague aspects of the new legislation. But it doesn’t stop there.

Oh no. The new law also requires the addition of health warnings that present claims about harm and addiction as fact even though more or less all of these claims have long been proven to be complete bullshit. Any adult website now operating or available in Texas will now have to feature one of the following statements in 14pt or above on every landing page:

Pornography is potentially biologically addictive, is proven to harm human brain development, desensitizes brain reward circuits, increases conditioned responses and weakens brain function.

Exposure to this content is associated with low self-esteem and body image, eating disorders, impaired brain development, and other emotional and mental illnesses.

pornography increases the demand for prostitution, child exploitation and child pornography.

These claims are, at best, personal opinions masquerading as fact and at worst outright lies, some of which seem to be freshly invented – I mean, eating disorders and weakened brain function? Really? What’s more, they also buy into ancient myths and hysteria about any sort of sexual activity and pleasure, from promiscuity to masturbation – it’s rather surprising that they haven’t included hairy palms, insanity and impotence in the list of hysterical made-up horrors that porn is being blamed for.

I can’t imagine any adult site agreeing to include this on their site, given that it would effectively be a confession that all these claims have some validity, which would surely potentially open them up to legal action from lunatic moralist groups – and I suspect that this is was what the legislators were aiming for all along, giving them an excuse to completely block access or haul site owners into court for non-compliance. It’s also almost certainly as unconstitutional as every other porn block in America and will obviously be fought in court. None of these laws have stood up to legal scrutiny so far but there is obviously a reason for the anti-porn lobby to keep pushing them – the more states that attempt such laws, the more these myths become enshrined into the public discussion of porn and start to be believed. It’s a steady drip-drip effect that is designed to make adult entertainment (and not just adult entertainment, given that the people pushing these bills are also against any sort of sexual freedom and gay rights) less publicly acceptable and available. If you can’t ban something outright, pushing it back into the shadows and demonising those involved is the next best option.

We might note that Texas, of course, has the most permissive gun laws in America, with no permits needed and both open and concealed carry allowed everywhere. Having gun nuts – or just nutters in general – wandering around shops, high schools and college campuses armed to the teeth and with no restrictions seems to me to be a more immediate and obvious threat to public health and safety than images of people shagging, but what do I know? Still, at least the gun-totin’, trigger-happy lunatic fringe won’t have had their brains weakened by watching sexual images of adults anymore – so that’s something. I just wonder how conflicted the legislators are when confronted by Sexy Girls and Sex Guns videos? And what do they privately jerk off to the most – the girls or the guns? Perhaps it’s best that we don’t know.

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  1. They missed out ‘it makes you blind’. At least they have obligingly lived up to the stereotype of Texans as regressive nutters. This is the final confirmation to me that porn is extremely good for you. Not only does it enhance one’s appreciation of the beauty of the human body and the wonder of creation, looking at such can stop you from becoming something really warped and twisted – like a Republican, Democrat, Tory or sanctimonous (and probably hyypocritical) moral guardian, or similar self-serving, duplicitous, lying sack of shit!

    1. I forgot about going blind – there are so many delirious claims, it’s hard to keep up with the classics. I see today that porn is being blamed for a loss in testosterone, which see.s to conflict with the standard claims of sexually inflamed men on porn-induced rampage. But whatever stokes the most paranoia with your audience I guess.

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