ST. GEORGE – For the second time since the Legislature passed a resolution declaring pornography a “public health crisis,” a publisher of an adult magazine has sent its product to Utah in protest .
This time, copies of “Penthouse” magazine were sent to the doorsteps of Gov. Gary Herbert and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Herbert makes the cover of the magazine – via print, his face doesn’t appear on the cover – while an article inside proceeds to go after the governor and the LDS church over the anti-porn resolution.
“Since the Mormon church brings its unsolicited moral, religious and political values to our doorstep, we decided to return the favor,” said Ralphie Aronowitz, Penthouse magazine’s editor, as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.
The delivery of Penthouse to the governor’s office and church officials follows copies of Hustler that were sent to members of the Utah Legislature in June.
“(T)he Utah Legislature is obviously confused about what constitutes a public health crisis, so I’ll send them our latest issue and they can see for themselves that we’re no danger to the public, only to the repressed,” Hustler publisher Larry Flynt said in a statement prior to sending the magazines, according to The Washington Times.
Jon Cox, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said the porn industry appears to be threatened by the resolution.
“If a magazine like Penthouse is taking you to task, that’s always a good sign that you’re on the right side of history. Utah is a leader in the fight against pornography, especially with the focus on the harm it poses to our children,” Cox told Fox 13 News. “The fact that the industry feels so threatened by a non-binding resolution meant to raise awareness of this problem shows you just how desperate they can be.”
Signed by the governor in April, the resolution does not ban or regulate pornography in the state, but rather seeks to raise awareness of negative impacts it can have on individuals and society, the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said.
“I never pretended to ban pornography for adults,” Weiler told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I think adults have the right to choose. Everything I’ve done with pornography has been about protecting children and, hopefully, Penthouse isn’t selling their magazine to children.”
Penthouse didn’t contact Weiler for comment about the resolution, Weiler said over Twitter Tuesday.
“So #Penthouse does a 10-page cover story on my resolution-and doesn’t bother to ask me a single question,” Weiler said.
Penthouse paid Huffington Post reporter Andy Campbell to write the article, which is titled “The Mormon war on porn is coming your way,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Weiler, who is LDS, along with a large part of the Utah Legislature, said he didn’t consult with the church about the resolution.
Aronowitz and Kelly Holland, CEO of Penthouse Global Media Inc., said they disagree with the notion that pornography is a public health problem and felt that Utah’s government is enshrining values from the LDS church, one of several religious groups that’s highlighted what they consider harms of pornography.
“This idea that you could cast masturbation as abhorrent behavior, which is really a lot of what we’re talking about in terms of the Mormon church and the LDS, is so unhealthy,” Holland said.
The LDS church, a faith to which a majority of Utah residents and lawmakers belong, launched a website in 2013 devoted to helping its members overcome pornography addiction. Last year, the religion made a video to give children tips to avoid pornography.
Request from media to the LDS church for comment were not returned.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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