Georgia lawmakers channel inner Joel Osteen to target Internet porn

In 2015, I said I would never forgive the Georgia legislature for putting forth a bill that place me in a position to defend strippers, but the government overreach and unnecessary taxation was just too much to keep quiet. It was a trying time and even still, if you google my name, you’ll be blessed to see information about strippers – all in the name of liberty.

And here we are, two years later, facing another overreach and another tax. The victim this time? Porn.

State representative Paulette Rakestraw has filed House Bill 509 which would require
retailers to put a “digital blocking capability” on some devices to make “obscene material” inaccessible. Retailers, in this code section, would mean anyone who SELLS or LEASES a device that allows content to be accessed on the Internet. The “blocking capability” is required to make porn, child porn, revenge porn, websites about prostitution, and websites about sex trafficking all inaccessible.

Retailers would be required to have a telephone line where consumers could call to report complaints and it prohibits retailers from giving consumers intel on how to deactivate the blocking program themselves.

Here is the real humdinger: If you are 18 years of age or older, request in writing that you would like to deactivate the program, acknowledge in writing that you understand the dangers (yes, that is really the word they use) of deactivating the program, and pay a $20 fee, you can have the program removed from your device.

You read that correctly. If, as a reasonable, responsible, American adult, you wish to look at obscene material in the privacy of your own home, you have to tell the grandmother at the Wal-Mart check out line that you would like her to delete the program so you can enjoy the device to the fullest extent.

First things first: how does a computer program identify whether or not porn is regular porn or revenge porn? Where does the list of people who consented in writing go? Is the state going to maintain a database of who may one day look at obscene content?

Second, phones, tablets, computers, Smart TVs, AppleWatch, Fitbits – anything that connects to the Internet would be subjected to this $20 fee if you, as an adult, wish to enjoy the luxury of obscenities and adult entertainment. The language is so broad and does not specify what type of content has to be accessible for a device to qualify.

The cover is in the name of the bill. “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” Your legislators believe that taxing people who watch porn will prevent human trafficking. Say that aloud so you can hear how ridiculous the idea is.

The money will be directed, by way of a Constitutional Amendment, to the “Georgia Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Trust Fund” and then directed to programs for nonpermanent long-term residential mental health and addiction treatment.

Would someone like to explain to me how funding addiction treatment programs is going to help prevent human trafficking?

People who become victims as a result of any violation of the legislation can apply for restitution from the fund for an amount not to exceed three times the amount the original consumer paid the retailer for the device.

At first glance of the bill, I thought the legislation was sponsored by Kim Jong Un, but no, it is our beloved Republicans. Republicans that should obviously hand over their Party cards and get in line for the Communist Express train that is on its way. This is not limited government. This is not low taxation. This is not pro-Constitution.

Let’s once again, run through the reasons why something like this is not only inappropriate, but unconstitutional.

Porn is free speech. This is a tax on free speech. A tax on people who wish to exercise and enjoy free speech.

Here’s another thing: By taxing porn, the government is condoning the industry, “allowing” it to exist, if you will. If the risks are SO high for sex trafficking and child pornography, then all porn should be illegal.

The fact that there is no advocacy for eradication of porn just reiterates the point: This isn’t about protecting anyone or helping anyone. It’s about taxing a vulnerable industry that is considered immoral. There is less resistance. After all, who is going to speak out in favor of porn?

Why does a woman like myself, who sees no value in porn – for education or entertainment – have to take on a cause and try to explain to our legislators why free speech protects obscenities?

Now, Crossover Day has come and gone, which means House Bill 509 cannot pass “as-is,” but the legislature has already passed multiple sex trafficking and sex crime bills in both chambers to which this language could be attached. And then, of course, there is next year due to the fact that a bill can be revived in a two-year period.

I told you this would happen. Anyone who opposed the garbage that was Senate Bill 8 knew this would happen. When you give government the authority to tax a business because of preference, not purpose, you set a precedent. A $5,000 annual fee just to run an adult entertainment establishment leads to a $20 fee if you want the privilege to view the dark parts of the Internet while at home…what is next?

Forests, strippers, fireworks and porn. That would be the Georgia Constitution, y’all.

If passed by the legislature, the Constitutional Amendment to make this permanent would be on the November 2018 ballot. The worst part of all is that they will probably get away with it.

10 thoughts on “Georgia lawmakers channel inner Joel Osteen to target Internet porn”

  1. The end result would be pushing things further underground. This software would rely on keywords and blacklisting web sites, which means people will be making decisions for other people what they deem as obscene. At that point you start walking a dangerous first amendment line, which the Supreme Court typically errs on the side of the first. This bill or an attachment of the like should NEVER see the light of day.

    1. Not only that, you’d have to have a whole agency of government that dealt with maintaining that list and getting every ISP to implement it…guess what…they wont.
      This all doesnt even count the 100% certain court challenge that GA will 100% lose in the cost of this.
      Who is the brilliant person that put this forward…they need to be shamed on a national level
      (sorry looked and I see who put it forward)

  2. First thought is that this isnt even possible to do even if everyone was in favor. You think Comcast can (or would) block content…just in Georgia. Me thinks not since, unknown to the moron who put this forward, there is not a “Welcome to Georgia” gate on the internet. Then the cost to put such a device (because it would most likely be a hardware device as software can be easily flashed) on anything used to view content would be wildly expensive for just a sliver of the market…this is stupid on such a basic level.
    It all comes back to my thought that LEGISLATORS should have to complete course work in internet basics before they are allowed to write affecting legislation

  3. I heartily agree with all of the comments about the impracticability and possible dangers to liberty that this particular legislation poses, but it seems to me that the real question is more fundamental: do the people of Georgia, through their legislature, have the right to regulate obscene material however they deem best?

    I have seen enough evidence of minors getting access to unregulated pornography that has ended up in destructive and addictive behaviors later in life that I’m willing to start a conversation about this, just as I favor discussions about regulating the drinking age. With the rising ease of access to obscene material through mobile devices as well as the general sexualization of children through a culture of such things as “sexting,” I think this is a fair question to rethink.

    Further, in my opinion, just because the Supreme Court deemed pornography “free speech,” does not mean that the discussion on whether it should be considered free speech in the Constitution is closed. Here the people are sovereign. Furthermore circumstances have changed with technology. Generally I’m libertarian on the federal level because I believe people in the individual states ought to be able to regulate morals according to their own opinions about what is right and necessary for the safety and happiness of their citizens. Those opinions will and should vary from state to state. The question is what do we Georgians think is best for us?

  4. Device based? Some say we’re No.1 for business, but skip the hassle and purchase devices on-line or out of state.

    A hack of the list, if it’s not available via an ORR, will be more fun than the Ashley Madison hack.

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