Iowa: Copycat 'Porn Block' Bill Fails to Move Forward

Iowa: Copycat 'Porn Block' Bill Fails to Move Forward

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa House of Representatives’ Commerce subcommittee declined to advance a bill that proposed blocking adult content on electronic devices by default, as well as creating a special $5 tax on adult entertainment to fund initiatives against “human trafficking.”

HF 288 had been introduced by Rep. Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), a religious conservative who has been the most vocal crusader against adult entertainment in the Iowa legislature.

The bill is a version of one recently re-introduced in Utah, part of a “Project Blitz” campaign by evangelicals to pass “copycat legislation” restricting adult content on a state-by-state basis.

According to local paper The Courier, representatives of ATT, T-Mobile and CenturyLink pointed out that several content-blocking apps are already available and “the use of those apps is at the discretion of parents, for example, rather than the internet provider.”

Mike St. Clair — representing the Iowa Communications Alliance of about 130 small broadband providers — told the subcommittee that HB 288 would “make us the policepersons for content and turn us into criminals if we don’t enforce it enough.”

“We don’t monitor content and don’t wish to be in that business,” St. Clair added.

Religiously inspired groups that spoke in support of the bill alleged that it would help address a supposed crisis of “porn addiction.”

Although The Courier reported that another Republican representative, Jon Jacobsen (R-Council Bluffs), said that “just as the state regulates gambling because of the societal costs of addictive behavior, he would like the Legislature to address the problems that arise from pornography,” none of the three Commerce subcommittee members signed off on Salmon’s bill.

Sandy Salmon, Iowa's Top War on Porn Crusader

As XBIZ reported in 2019, Rep. Sandy Salmon is the most notable Iowa politician leading the state’s War on Porn efforts.

Two years ago, Salmon introduced a resolution asking the state legislature to officially recognize “the public health hazard of pornography and its harmful proliferation on the internet and calling for vigorous enforcement of obscenity laws and steps to address the crisis of easily accessible pornography on the internet.”

Salmon asked Iowa’s General Assembly to recognize “that pornography is creating a public health crisis and perpetuates a sexually toxic environment.” Aware that prudish tactics from the past — broad appeals to “morals” or “shame” — do not find widespread endorsement, Salmon justified her call for censorship by conflating all depictions of sexuality with a toxic mix of human trafficking, sexual development of the young, child abuse and even addiction.

After affirming that “overcoming the harm of pornography is beyond the capability of the afflicted individuals to address alone,” Salmon closed her resolution by claiming that pornography “leads to a broad spectrum of individual and societal harms” and asked for "education, prevention, research and policy changes at the local, state and national levels to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation.

She then called upon "the United States Department of Justice and members of the federal, state and local criminal justice system to vigorously enforce federal and state obscenity laws against commercialized obscenity, and upon Congress to address the crisis of easily accessible pornography on the internet.”

An Openly 'Dominionist' Legislator

In July 2015, Salmon was the co-signatory, with eight fellow Iowa state legislators, of a press release “in support of the Separation of Church and State,” which they defined as the protection of Christians to politically organize and legislate according to Christian principles.

This doctrine is known as “dominionism," and a version of it is also currently espoused in the U.S. Senate by Missouri's Josh Hawley.

“We as legislators agree with the meaning of President Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists which said we need a ‘separation of Church and State,’” Salmon and the others declared. “In context it meant that we must always keep the State away from any of the affairs of the Church. At the same time, in order for the United States to function at its best, the people who represent the citizens in government must reflect a strong Judeo-Christian ethic in all we do, including having a solid, unmovable moral basis in our laws.”

Main Image: Iowa House Representative Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville).

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