Students taking a stand against pornography
In January of this year, State Representative Anne Thayer (R-District 9) of South Carolina introduced House Resolution 3573 acknowledging the public health hazard of pornography, recognizing the many harms created by pornography, and calling for enforcement of obscenity laws, and for regulation of pornography on the Internet.
The resolution follows suit with others passed in more than a dozen states and a resolution currently introduced in Ohio. The resolution was introduced the previous two-year session (2017-2018) in South Carolina, but failed to pass before the bill deadline. However, college students at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, South Carolina are doing their part to ensure that the resolution crosses the finish line in 2020.
Southern Wesleyan student, Madeline Johnson, in support of this resolution, created an online petition for students to also declare support, and the petition took off faster than she imagined. In just 48 hours, the petition gained over 300 signatures from mostly students, and has been growing daily since.
Johnson, also a member of the National Decency Coalition (NDC), told the NDC Media Team, “I believe this is a subject that many students are concerned about. So many students began sharing the petition on social media. I’ve been a part of other campus petitions, and have never seen one take off like this.” Johnson went on to say, “My generation does not know anything but porn addiction, and I’d like to see what our generation would be like without it.”
Johnson also shared with NDC her concerns with pornography fueling sex trafficking across the country and that engaging students will only help shed a greater light on this crisis. The petition declares support for the resolution recognizing connections of pornography to sex trafficking, sexual assaults, mental health and more, as well as recognizes the 14 other states that have made a similar declaration. Johnson has been in contact with Representative Thayer’s office and has offered her support, and plans to testify in favor of the resolution when legislators take a vote in 2020.
Similarly, earlier this year, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed the “Children’s Internet Safety Governor’s Pledge” created by Enough is Enough (EIE) that pledges to ensure “aggressive enforcement of existing state laws to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online, including the state obscenity laws, child pornography laws, sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws”. In 2016, Donald Trump signed a similar pledge from Enough is Enough just before his presidency began pledging to “uphold the rule of law by aggressively enforce existing federal laws to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online, including the federal obscenity laws, child pornography laws, sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws.” President Trump made good on this pledge in 2018 by signing into law the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act that led to the shut down of Backpage.com, Craigslist/personals, and similar sites renown for enabling prostitution and sex trafficking.
Earlier this year, students at Notre Dame were recognized for generating a petition that received more than 1000 signatures calling for a campus filter that will block pornographic websites. Uriah Stark, Assistant Director of NDC said, “Students are taking a stand. People are ready for something major to be done about pornography and how easy it is for children and everyone to access. In 2016, the FDA required vaping websites to verify age of customers, and the U.S. has yet to take similar action toward hardcore porn sites. I think people are getting frustrated, and I applaud Madeline Johnson and the students of Southern Wesleyan University for making such a bold statement.”
The resolution is anticipated to have it’s first vote in the Public and Municipal Affairs Committee in January of 2020. For more information, you may follow the progress of the resolution here.
Ricky Darr is a writer for National Decency Coalition (NDC)