In 2015, I said I would never forgive the Georgia legislature for putting forth a bill that put me in a position to defend strippers, but the government overreach and unnecessary taxation was just too much to keep quiet. It was a trying time and even still, if you google my name, you’ll be blessed to see information about strippers – all in the name of liberty.
And here we are, two years later, facing another overreach and another tax. The victim this time? Porn.
State representative Paulette Rakestraw has filed House Bill 509 which would require retailers to put a “digital blocking capability” on some devices to make “obscene material” inaccessible. Retailers, in this code section, would mean anyone who SELLS or LEASES a device that allows content to be accessed on the Internet. The “blocking capability” is required to make porn, child porn, revenge porn, websites about prostitution, and websites about sex trafficking all inaccessible.
Retailers would be required to have a telephone line where consumers could call to report complaints and it prohibits retailers from giving consumers intel on how to deactivate the blocking program themselves.
Here is the real humdinger: If you are 18 years of age or older, request in writing that you would like to deactivate the program, acknowledge in writing that you understand the dangers (yes, that is really the word they use) of deactivating the program, and pay a $20 fee, you can have the program removed from your device.
You read that correctly. If, as a reasonable, responsible, American adult, you wish to look at obscene material in the privacy of your own home, you have to tell the grandmother at the Wal-Mart check out line that you would like her to delete the program so you can enjoy the device to the fullest extent.
First things first: how does a computer program identify whether or not porn is regular porn or revenge porn? Where does the list of people who consented in writing go? Is the state going to maintain a database of who may one day look at obscene content?
Second, phones, tablets, computers, Smart TVs, AppleWatch, Fitbits – anything that connects to the Internet would be subjected to this $20 fee if you, as an adult, wish to enjoy the luxury of obscenities and adult entertainment. The language is so broad and does not specify what type of content has to be accessible for a device to qualify.
The cover is in the name of the bill. “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” Your legislators believe that taxing people who watch porn will prevent human trafficking. Say that aloud so you can hear how ridiculous the idea is.
The money will be directed, by way of a Constitutional Amendment, to the “Georgia Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Trust Fund” and then directed to programs for nonpermanent long-term residential mental health and addiction treatment.
Would someone like to explain to me how funding addiction treatment programs is going to help prevent human trafficking?
People who become victims as a result of any violation of the legislation can apply for restitution from the fund for an amount not to exceed three times the amount the original consumer paid the retailer for the device.
At first glance of the bill, I thought the legislation was sponsored by Kim Jong Un, but no, it is our beloved Republicans. Republicans that should obviously hand over their Party cards and get in line for the Communist Express train that is on its way. This is not limited government. This is not low taxation. This is not pro-Constitution.
Let’s once again, run through the reasons why something like this is not only inappropriate, but unconstitutional.
Porn is free speech. This is a tax on free speech. A tax on people who wish to exercise and enjoy free speech.
Here’s another thing: By taxing porn, the government is condoning the industry, “allowing” it to exist, if you will. If the risks are SO high for sex trafficking and child pornography, then all porn should be illegal.
The fact that there is no advocacy for eradication of porn just reiterates the point: This isn’t about protecting anyone or helping anyone. It’s about taxing a vulnerable industry that is considered immoral. There is less resistance. After all, who is going to speak out in favor of porn?
Why does a woman like myself, who sees no value in porn – for education or entertainment – have to take on a cause and try to explain to our legislators why free speech protects obscenities?
Now, Crossover Day has come and gone, which means House Bill 509 cannot pass “as-is,” but the legislature has already passed multiple sex trafficking and sex crime bills in both chambers to which this language could be attached. And then, of course, there is next year due to the fact that a bill can be revived in a two-year period.
I told you this would happen. Anyone who opposed the garbage that was Senate Bill 8 knew this would happen. When you give government the authority to tax a business because of preference, not purpose, you set a precedent. A $5,000 annual fee just to run an adult entertainment establishment leads to a $20 fee if you want the privilege to view the dark parts of the Internet while at home…what is next?
Forests, strippers, fireworks and porn. That would be the Georgia Constitution, y’all.
If passed by the legislature, the Constitutional Amendment to make this permanent would be on the November 2018 ballot. The worst part of all is that they will probably get away with it.