South Carolina lawmakers aim to label porn as a public health hazard

Dirty minds

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Seemingly having conquered all other societal ills, South Carolina lawmakers have now filed a resolution to declare pornography as a public health hazard.

Introduced to the state House of Representatives Thursday and referred to the Judiciary Committee, the resolution sponsored by Reps. Mike Burns, Bill Chumley, and Anne Thayer looks to address South Carolina’s “pornography epidemic by encouraging education, prevention, research, and policy changes to address the proliferation of pornography on the internet in particular and to call for regulation of pornography on the internet.”

In stressing the “public health crisis” created by pornography, the lawmakers write that exposure to such lewd materials can impact brain development and functioning, as well as contribute to medical illnesses.

Before we examine some of the claims put forth in the resolution, let’s take a closer look at South Carolina’s porn habits so we can better understand the epidemic our great state is currently facing.

According to data collected by Pornhub Insights, the research arm of the world’s largest online porn site, South Carolina ranks 25th among states in the U.S. in terms of traffic to the site. Pornhub users in the Palmetto State spend an average of 10 minutes 44 seconds on the site per visit, 29 seconds longer than the national average. If South Carolina — a state apparently caught in the merciless grips of a pornography epidemic — doesn’t even crack the top 20, it is difficult to imagine the lawless hellscape that has spread throughout the other half of the country.

A 2009 study examining the possible links between the spread of pornography and sexual assault rates in the United States found that as the number of hardcore pornographic titles continued to increase between 1988 and 2005, the number of reported rapes decreased. Published in the journal of Aggression and Violent Behavior, the authors of the study wrote, “Rape rates in the United States today are at their lowest levels since 1960. This trend continues despite the fact that availability of pornography (number of titles released and number of pornographic websites) increases annually.”

The resolution introduced by South Carolina lawmakers is almost identical to a non-binding piece of legislation passed in Utah last year. Both resolutions point out that “exposure to pornography often serves as sex education for children and youth and informs their sexual templates.” Interestingly enough, those providing sex-ed in public schools in both South Carolina and Utah are required to stress abstinence until marriage, which may explain why students end up looking elsewhere.

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