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by Marci Nelson

Pornography has become a hot topic in recent years. Many celebrities, including Terry Crews and Pamela Anderson, have spoken out on the dangers of pornography. Many non-profit organizations such as Fight the New Drug and Citizens for Decency are working to combat the dangers of pornography through education and legislation.

It is becoming increasingly imperative that the government get involved in fighting pornography. Pornography is more than just a pastime. According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, pornography is a drug that leads to greater problems such as porn-induced erectile dysfunction, divorce or failed relationships, sexually aggressive and violent behaviors, violence against women, increased STI rates, brain shrinkage, addiction, lower body image for men and women, less interest in actual sex, increased marital rape, dissatisfaction with partners, and extramarital affairs.

If those facts are not enough to convince you of the risks of this porn epidemic, know that $11 million are spent every hour on pornographic materials, and 25% of all internet searches are porn-related.

Luckily we are not alone in the belief that it is crucial for the government to get involved. In 2016, the state of Utah declared pornography a public health crisis. This resolution has no binding effects other than a call for greater research and education. Other states have passed or are in the process of passing similar resolutions, including Florida, Kansas, Virginia, Tennessee, and South Dakota. In addition, Idaho is in the process of writing a draft for a similar resolution, as well as a bill that will require public libraries to filter their wi-fi for children.

I had the honor and privilege of lobbying for said legislation in Boise last month. Craig Cobia, founder of Citizens for Decency, invited me and a fellow student to attend The Chamber Days Conference and to meet with some legislators interested in sponsoring our resolution and bill.

All the legislators we met with were very supportive of our cause. It was easy for them to be on board with the resolution, but there was some hesitation in sponsoring our proposed bill to filter public wi-fi. This is not because they don’t believe that pornography is a problem but because of the potential fiscal responsibility that filters might cause. We did our best to address these concerns and find some plausible filter brands that would be relatively inexpensive.

This opportunity was eye opening to me. I am a small town girl from Idaho. I’ve always been told that in the United States of America the people have the power. I did not believe them until this trip to Boise. I can’t speak for all states, but for Idahoans, we are so fortunate to have easy access to our public officials. I met and associated with the Governor, Senators, and Representatives. As I was walking to the Capital, I saw Governor Otter and had the opportunity to talk with him briefly. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I had no idea that me, an average citizen, could meet and talk to my state officials.

I did not realize how state government works. Most legislation that is considered starts with a group of lobbyists who care about a particular issue. Yes, the legislators have the power to draft their own ideas as well but more often than not legislators draft bills that their constituents introduce. Governor Otter made a statement that impacted my attitude about local government: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” In other words, freedom doesn’t happen by accident. Changes are made because people care deeply and do something to make it happen. Our representatives cannot represent us unless they know what we are passionate about!

Public policy is an intricate, complex part of our government’s system. It is a slow process. Change is not going to happen overnight. We can expect to fight for our cause of family for a very long time. But we have to fight! The changes that are made will be in favor of those who fight. If you do not participate, there is no guarantee that progress for the better will be made.

Fortunately, we are not alone in the fight. I did not meet an Idaho state legislator who was not on-board with our ideas about contending pornography. Changes can be made – but we have to be persistent in fighting for what we deeply believe in.

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