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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 09, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 09Mar01

By Mark Wright

LDS Church Member, Utah's 'Porn Czarina,' Gets National Attention

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Paula Houston, a returned missionary and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has spent some time viewing hard-core pornography. While these seemingly incongruent facts may bring pause, Houston is only doing her job. Houston is a conservative 41-year-old graduate from Brigham Young University and is also the newly appointed "Porn Czar" for the state of Utah.

While officially know as the "Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman," the press has opted for the shorthand "czar" moniker when reporting on Houston's office and activities. In her new capacity, Houston is charged with providing a resource for residents in Utah communities looking to curb pornography. She will also attempt to craft a model ordinance for cities and counties to outlaw obscenity and pornography.

While Houston is single, she believes in the family-centered teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ and has seen the devastating results that come from pornography addiction. Prior to accepting her current position, Houston was a prosecutor in nearby West Valley City and worked on several cases involving pornography. Her personal experiences with real-life people led to a viewpoint that mirrors the stance of the Church on the destructive nature of pornography. "I see how pornography always played into domestic cases, often men whose passion for it had eaten away at the family's core." Houston said. "I know statistics don't suggest a causal relationship, but there is enough of one for me."

Predictably, the ACLU and other liberal watch-dog organizations are expressing concern and have vowed to make sure that Houston doesn't trample on the Constitutional rights of the citizens of the state of Utah. Many such free-speech advocates have already sounded the alarm. "This position isn't necessary. There are laws in existence to help protect citizens from pornography," says Carol Gnade, executive director of the ACLU's Utah branch.

Given the prominence the Church and it's well-known stand against pornography, some people have gone so far as to insinuate that the Church is responsible for the new position. "It's crazy," says Salt Lake City Mayor Ross Anderson, a critic of Houston's new office. "Some of us get a little tired of the Church moralizing through legislation like this." Clearly, Houston has her work cut out for her.

Whether you agree with the appointment of Houston or not, everyone agrees that she is moving forward in a very challenging role. It also seems that, at least for the present, Utah is standing alone in taking this bold step to try and stem the tide of pornography. No other state has created nor implemented this kind of government office and action. Whether or not Houston and Utah will be successful remains to be seen.


'Porn czar' Utah lawyer takes on job to shield residents from obscene materials
USA Today pg1D 5Mar01 T2
By Marco R. della Cava: USA Today

Utah's 'porn czarina' targets an elusive purveyor: the Net
Christian Science Monitor 21Feb01 T2
By Paul Van Slambrouck: Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Porn Czar Says Inexperience Is Irrelevant
Salt Lake Tribune 11Feb01 T2
By Kevin Cantera and Michael Vigh: Salt Lake Tribune


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