Summarized by Kent Larsen
Utah adding pornography czar
Boston Globe (AP) 17Mar00 D6
By Hannah Wolfson, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- A new Utah state law expected to be signed
today by Governor Mike Leavitt will create the first pornography
'czar' in the United States. While the position has little
prosecutorial power and no ability to change materials that come from
out-of-state like the Internet or cable television, the person that
fills the position, the obscenity and pornography complaints
ombudsman, a deputy state attorney general, is expected to define and
help "restrict, suppress or eliminate" pornography.
The issue has been an important one in Utah, in part because 70% of
its residents are LDS Church members. And it has been debated
intensely, and even prosecuted. In the past year an adult video store
in Utah County was prosecuted in a high-profile case.
But observers claim that pornography is actually difficult to find in
Utah. The adult bookstore most widely advertised in Salt Lake City is
actually in Evanston, Wyoming, an hour's drive to the east. Utah ACLU
chapter director Carol Gnade says, ''The irony of all this is that
there have not been that many pornography cases lately. This seems to
be a solution without a problem.''
Both nationally and in Utah, prosecution of pornography, like all
crimes, has actually fallen. But observers say that the proliferation
of pornography on the Internet has stimulated interest in regulating
it. And many observers say that the position is largely symbolic
because of its limited powers. Jurisdictional issues keep the state
from regulating Internet or Cable pornography. Instead the ombudsman
will define Utah's obscenity law, advice local and municipal
governments about the law and arbitrate problems when they arise. The
position may also prosecute in some circumstances.
But legislators and lobbyists say that the people of Utah are asking
for government to attack pornography, ''I felt there's a lot of
people who wanted to do something but didn't know where to turn,''
says Republican state Rep. Evan L. Olsen, the sponsor of the
legislation. Gayle Ruzicka, the chairwoman of the ultra-conservative
Utah Eagle Forum which supported the legislation says, ''It's time to
say what's happening here. Pornography has suddenly become a huge,
huge business beyond anything we ever imagined and it's as addictive
as drugs. People are asking for help.'' And Governor Leavitt says
this is worth trying, "If a state legislature is looking for a way to
improve the world, this is not an illogical way to strike a blow.
Time will tell if it's a good use of state money. But to me, there is
no harm in trying."
While Utah is the first to have a general pornography czar, other
states, including California and New York, have czars or teams
responsible for fighting child pornography. And Joan Bertin, the
executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, says
she thinks other states may jump on the bandwagon. ''There's a huge
proliferation of entertainment that is more sexually explicit than
ever before. So there's really both a loosening and a tightening at
once, and I suppose that's to be expected.''
Utah to establish anti-porn advisory office
San Jose CA Mercury News (New York Times) 16Mar00 D6
By Michael Janofsky: New York Times