Mike Lee introduces bill that would effectively ban online porn

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would effectively ban online pornography in the U.S. by changing the definition of obscenity, which the First Amendment does not currently protect.

Current U.S. law and legal precedent currently leave it up to states and communities to define obscenity, and current guidelines are vaguer than the Lee bill would be.

The Miller test of 1973 is the current legal precedent, and defines obscenity as content the average person applying “contemporary community standards” would find appeals to the “prurient interest.”

“Prurient” means “having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters,” according to Oxford.

Defining obscenity

Instead of Miller’s “community standards,” Lee’s bill takes language from the 1934 Interstate Obscenity Definition Act.

Under this act, any work that “taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in nudity, sex or excretion” would be considered obscene if it didn’t have “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

The definition would apply to pornography and could give regulators a way to ban it legitimately.

Lee’s act would prohibit the transfer of obscene material across state lines, which necessarily happens over the internet.

Unthinkable to the left

Of course, liberals are up in arms at the thought of pornography being banned. It has become ubiquitous to the point that nearly all preteen boys and many girls can easily find it when they hit a curious age.

Most on the left seem to think that pornography should be protected by the first amendment and that adults should be free to view it if they so desire.

The drawback to its ready availability is a rise in porn addiction and sex addiction, which impacts a growing number of people in our internet-driven society.

Doomed in the Senate

Unless Lee can gain support from several Democrats, however, his bill is doomed in the Senate, which will grow its Democrat majority by one seat in January.

Current levels of support for the measure are unknown, but Democrats would be expected to withhold support from it because it might affect workers in the porn industry, and because they view interest in sex as healthy.

It’s possible that Lee is laying groundwork to get his bill passed in two years when Republicans have a better chance to regain the majority, unless he knows something that the rest of us don’t know at this point.