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What’s more of a public health risk? Weapons or porn?

I’m surprised that we are having this discussion at all but because it does not hurt, why not?  Legislators in Florida decided that the answer to the above question depends on whom it is directed to. In a state where a gunman, later identified by police as Nikolas Cruz, opened fire and killed 17 people the previous week, the legislators are more concerned with the threat posed by pornography. Excuse me, are they kidding? I don’t remember hearing anyone who died from watching porn. It appears that politicians have all their priorities misplaced.

Porn declared a public health risk

So, the House of Representatives in Florida passed a motion declaring porn a public health risk. The resolution called for education, research, and policy changes to protect Florida citizens — especially teenagers — from pornography, according to the Associated Press. According to the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Ross Spano, research has “found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.”

Well, I’m not sure about the research the legislator was referring to, but ironically, the same legislators refused to hold hearings on a bill looking to ban high-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the one used last week at the shooting mentioned above at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Any individual with some semblance of common sense would not have been losing sleep over the epidemic of porn as a public health crisis, especially coming against the backdrop of gun violence. Just like Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat, asked, “Has anyone ever been killed as a result of the health implications of pornography?” I’ll wait.

Porn not a crisis

The research on the impact of porn may be mixed, but the majority of the experts working on the topic agree that it is far from being branded a crisis. In fact, a health associate professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Eric Schrimshaw told CNN that “Growing evidence also suggests that it is not pornography in general that may be correlated with potentially negative outcomes.” What more do they want to hear?

It is surprising, then, that conservatives especially in states with large evangelical communities continue to peddle their narrative and reframe their social concerns about pornography as a public health crisis in total disregard of more informed research by medical professionals.

Guns the real threat

While the research on the effects on porn is not conclusive, research has shown that stricter gun laws correlate with reduced homicide cases and vice versa. It is, therefore, safe to say that guns pose the real life-threatening danger here. The widespread availability of semi-automatic rifles is a much bigger risk than watching porn. The weapons have been used (and continue to be used) in all sorts of crime. Yet somehow, legislators think porn is the bigger threat.

Even without focusing on mass shootings, there are still thousands of crimes being committed using these weapons than those reported. There are loads of gunfire shootings that don’t necessarily result in mass shootings but still cause death and injury to victims. You may have a situation where ten rounds are fired, but there are two victims. Such cases do not get the extensive coverage, and that remains a concern. Much more than porn, like I’m sure you all agree with me by now.

How a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reacted after seeing the Florida House refuse to let the gun control bill out of committee

 There seems to be an elaborate plan by the National Rifle Association to hide the truth about guns. For starters, the Centers for Disease Control are forbidden to research gun violence due to a National Rifle Association-backed congressional ban. It appears now legislators are prepared to selectively listen to evidence about guns, which is disheartening considering the gun that killed 17 people is still smoking.

The conservative media has not been left behind and is already on its headache-inducing habit of screaming how the real issue is porn and everything else but guns. They are doing their best to keep distracting people from the real truth. They are not even interested in any discussions about guns. But when it comes to demonizing porn, they are at the forefront.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith seems to agree with me. He said, “Wasting our time with debate and legislation that declares porn as a health threat. Meanwhile, we can’t even get a single debate, vote, or hearing on anything related to assault weapons. That’s really sad.” That may as well qualify for the biggest understatement of the century.

Conclusion

Porn has its disadvantages. Just like everything else when not consumed moderately. However, the ‘damages’ by porn don’t come anywhere near what a lone gunman can do with a semi-automatic firearm. I even cannot believe that in 2018, someone is prioritizing porn over something that leads to loss of life at an increasingly alarming rate. Simply put, declaring porn a threat to public health and ignoring the threat posed by weapons is the lamest joke of the year.

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