This man is behind a nationwide porn-banning campaign – and he wants to marry his laptop
Chris Sevier once sued a county clerk because he was refused a marriage license to make his love of his laptop official. But now Sevier’s latest crusade is to censor laptops everywhere as part of his anti-pornography campaign.
Sevier is the man behind the state-by-state efforts to require all electronics come with pre-loaded content blockers that would censor the internet from pornography, Vocativ reports. This is the same man who once sued Apple for his own porn addiction, casting aside the time-honored Republican demand for “personal responsibility.” While some might see Sevier as another unbalanced person search for a get-rich-quick scheme, his latest efforts are picking up steam.
If 2016 is known for anything it’s bizarre attempts by Republican lawmakers to legislate the nanny-state they once campaigned against. Utah lawmakers declared a public health crisis in April because one representative believes pornography is taking over his state. In May, state Rep. Todd Weiler proposed a bill that would require pornography filters on all electronic devices sold in Utah. Just a few weeks ago, South Carolina followed suit with their own bill that would do the same. Their bill was unique in that a person could remove the filter, but it would cost them $20.
“The reason why this bill is constitutionally sound, this isn’t like a prohibition. It just makes it by default, it’s blocked,” Sevier told Vocativ. “There are a lot of adults who don’t want access to that stuff.”
Sevier is hiding the legislation in a bill he calls the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” He argues that pornography is the same as forced prostitution, kidnapping and slavery because “pornography is an advertisement for prostitution,” and that it “erodes consent,” “promotes sexual voyeurism,” and “cultivates female objectification.”
“It sends them down a slippery slope where before you know it, they’re starting to get more and more into hardcore forms, like worse and worse, like grosser and grosser, and the next thing you know they’re on a plane flying to Thailand to molest a child,” he said.
His evidence of this comes from advertisements he has seen on the prostitution website Backpage.com that “promise to give a porn-like experience in real life.” He sees no difference in consensual sex work and forced. He also believes there is a link between people who watch pornography and domestic violence and sexual abuse. Every balanced scientific study done on the subject refutes his claim, however. There also isn’t any evidence that “porn addiction” is a real addiction.
“This is really about … people who want to avoid being exposed to pornography because they want to stay married for example, or they don’t want to open the door to being arrested for child pornography and they prefer not to go to federal prison for 20 years,” Sevier explained.
Existing child-proof filters and parental controls are easy to find their way around and most believe that any forced censorship would similarly be easy to crack, particularly from states that would refuse such legislation. There’s also a concern for technology companies doing work in states that pass such laws. It would effectively create a black market for purchases or force people to turn to online shopping as a means of buying without government intrusion.
Such internet filters could also force people to turn to text message pornography, which could harm the adult industry which counts on copyright laws protecting their product. Filters could also be circumvented by downloading applications that allow people a work around.
Privacy and First Amendment advocates take issue with the legislation as well. Some believe government filters being put on electronics is a slippery slope to monitoring an individual’s internet activity. The First Amendment guarantees the right to expression and speech, which the Supreme Court has ruled pornography falls under. While The Court created some guidelines for what falls under obscenity laws, they’re extremely vague.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a concurring opinion in the 2002 case, Ashcroft v. ACLU that “to read the statute as adopting the community standards of every locality in the United States would provide the most puritan of communities with a heckler’s veto affecting the rest of the Nation.”
It seems Sevier has an uphill climb ahead.