SALT LAKE CITY—The fact that Utah has the highest per-capita number of subscriptions to internet porn sites apparently hasn't deterred the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—better known as "the Mormons"—and some of its affiliates from mounting a fight against porn's ready availability online.
The 10th Annual Conference on Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and Other Harmful Materials, sponsored by the Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP), began last Saturday morning and ended shortly after noon, and according to the Deseret News (owned by the aforementioned corporation) attracted 700 attendees who heard the Mormon-owned Deseret Management Corporation CEO Mark H. Willes warn that looking at adult materials "is not a victimless act," and claim that it " puts relationships, employment, healthy sexuality and well-being at risk" ... no matter how many times reputable social scientists have debunked such claims.
But never mind them; Willes' organization conducted its own "research," polling "almost 600 women" along the "Wasatch Front"—a chain of cities in north-central Utah on either side of the Wasatch Mountain Range, including Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden, where about 80 percent of the state's residents reside. And considering that 58 percent of those women are Mormons, with another 17 percent either Catholic or Evangelical Protestant, the survey results—that 54 percent "know somebody who struggles with pornography"—were pretty much pre-ordained.
Though AVN wasn't present at the conference, a quick look at the UCAP website indicates that contrary to the conference title, the only "other harmful materials" attendees learned to protect themselves from was more pornography, and several speakers with MSs and Ph.D.s after their names made it clear that the best way to do that was through "spiritual healing" and "recapturing" one's "Humble Warrior Heart."
Though not on the official program, Utah Gov. Gary Hebert had a few comments for the audience. According to the Deseret News article, Hebert called porn not "just a scourge," but a "growing scourge," and compared Utahns' porn viewing to "the current threat of massive flooding," where he expressed fear that "people will be sucked in and pulled away and lose their life."
Perhaps most telling, though, were some of the reader responses to the Deseret News article.
"Seems like porn addiction only affects religious populations," wrote "Mukkake." "Maybe the best protection against pornography addiction is atheism..."
"The lack of love and intimacy in our society has real and powerful affect on both men and women," wrote Quayle. "Women are just as prone as men to seek a replacement for the intimacy they lack, using counterfeit, but ultimately false forms of intimacy portrayed in literature rather than pictures. Thus, this is not about men 'devastating' women. This is about men and women starving for close, intimate relationships, and being beguiled into false forms thereof."
Another commenter provided unintentional humor.
"Ironic that you should mention Africa in this forum, a continent that has one of the highest rates of AIDS, HIV, STDs, out of wedlock pregnancies and rape of any place on the planet," wrote "ClarkHippo." "Are you going to tell us that the problems associated with pornography have nothing whatsoever to do with the items I just mentioned?"
Gosh; we never knew porn was so available south of the Sahara!