If porn could be banned, why not AR-15s?

Pornography is officially a “public-health crisis” in Utah, according to 2016 legislation. Republican representative Todd Weiler, who championed the bill and told me at the time that he sees a lot of porn in his Twitter feed, has been working to make it illegal for internet service providers to provide internet that contains porn.

When I covered this story it felt like a fringe movement, born of conflicting ideas about the role of government in public health. Banning porn means expanding government oversight in a way that infringes on personal liberties and squelches an enormous industry that creates wealth and jobs. These tenets seem contrary to many conservatives’ stated objectives and free-market approach, yet it was conservatives beating the drum.

This week, The New York Times’ columnist Ross Douthat took the argument mainstream with his column “Let’s Ban Porn.” The piece was supported by some vocal conservative-minded people, like Denny Burk, a professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, who shared it with the endorsement: “Porn oppresses women, eviscerates manhood, destroys marriage, robs children of purity, and enslaves people in private morose self-indulgence. Ban it indeed.”