from the filtering-the-naughty-bits dept
For some time now, a man by the name of Chris Sevier has been waging a fairly facts-optional war on porn. Sevier first became famous for trying to marry his computer to protest same sex marriage back in 2016. He also tried to sue Apple after blaming the Cupertino giant for his own past porn addiction, and has gotten into trouble for allegedly stalking country star John Rich and a 17-year-old girl. Sevier has since been a cornerstone of an effort to pass truly awful porn filter legislation in more than 15 states under the disingenuous guise of combating human trafficking.
Dubbed the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” all of the incarnations of the law would force ISPs to filter pornography and other “patently offensive material.” The legislation would then force state residents interested in viewing porn to pony up a one-time $20 “digital access fee” to whitelist the internet’s naughty bits for each internet-connected device in the home. The proposal is patently absurd, technically impossible to implement, and yet somehow these bills continue to get further than they ever should across a huge swath of the boob-phobic country.
Once people have realized the ignorant futility (and under-handed sales pitch) of such model legislation, it usually fails to gain any steam in most states. But it’s back this week with a decidedly new wrinkle in Arizona, where State Rep. Gail Griffin is pushing Arizona House Bill 2444. HB 2444 would mandate that any Arizona internet user would need to file a request if they want to access porn online, proving they’re at least 18 years of age. Porn seekers would then pay a one-time fee of $20 (plus additional fees) to access porn. Of course since this effort (like past efforts) is technically futile, the proposal is going nowhere.
But it’s getting some extra attention this week because the bill mandates the creation of something called the “John McCain Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Fund,” which, if past precedent for these bills holds, likely has less than nothing to actually do with, and was never sanctioned by, the family of John McCain.
That fund, in turn, would go to a number of different causes, including a program designed “to uphold community standards of decency” and develop “programs for victims of sex abuse.” But Arizona’s incarnation of this dumb law has a small wrinkle in that Griffin is trying to claim this money could also be used to help fund Trump’s unnecessary border fence:
“At the top of the list of 10 explicit things the grants can be used for is ?build a border wall between Mexico and this state or fund border security.” Other grant purposes include mental health services, temporary housing, assisting victims, training, assisting school districts and assisting law enforcement. It is unclear if the McCain family is supportive of the legislation or a fund created in the late senator?s name.”
Again though, that funding is never going to happen because this law, like the last fifty times we’ve covered it, isn’t likely to pass. It isn’t likely to pass because filtering porn on such a level is arguably impossible, as we’ve seen every time someone attempts to erect such government-mandated censorship of porn. And it’s not going to pass because the folks behind the draft legislation it’s based on not only have absolutely no idea how the internet actually works, they consistently misrepresent what the law is supposed to actually do (and fund).
But the real story here isn’t the dumb filter, or the Trump wall wrinkle (though both will happily feed the clickbait machine for much of the week). The real story is how successful Sevier has been, despite his very checkered past, at getting more than a dozen state legislatures to mindlessly embrace terrible, unworkable legislation that happily gives a giant middle finger to the Constitution.