Is porn fueling a “public health crisis?” That’s the breathless and baseless worry spreading from Utah’s legislature to other statehouses (most recently, Florida and Kansas) and the pages of papers like The New York Times. These latest legislative freakouts are part of a rich history of government ignoring science and common sense in an emotional crusade against pornography, be it in the form of photos or cable movies or internet clips.

“I talked with Fox News correspondent Ellison Barber about the issue last night on Fox News @ Night:

I was on @foxnewsnight last night talking to @ellisonbarber about porn being a “public health crisis.” Check it out: pic.twitter.com/xrg8DvFqeT”

AMPERSANDmdash; Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) February 20, 2018

I also wrote last week for Buzzfeed about how would-be porn prohibitionists such as Times columnist Ross Douthat are part of a long, dumb, and dishonorable tradition