This morning, the Florida House Health and Human Services committee overwhelmingly approved a resolution that would declare pornography a public health crisis in the state, a move that would bring Florida in line with similar decrees in Utah, South Dakota, and Virginia.
The resolution, sponsored by Florida rep and onetime porn-tweet-enthusiast Ross Spano—who is also hoping to become the state’s attorney general—cites “addiction to pornography” and the “alarming” effects of young adults having access to sexual material. In the document, porn is said to lead to eating disorders, low self esteem, the objectification of women, higher instances of domestic violence, “mental and physical illness,” “unhealthy brain development,” “deviant” sexual behavior, “reluctance to enter marriage,” and infidelity. All of which sounds very bad, though it remains unclear how many Floridians are dying from too many visits to Porn Hub.
Let’s leave aside the fact that the resolution’s concern over teenagers’ sexual education and Florida’s abstinence-heavy sex ed programming is a misguided and futile attempt to keep young people from doing what they will absolutely do anyway, or that some other causes of infidelity and the objectification of women appear to be holding an office in the Florida House. It also seems safe to say there are health crisis more pressing than internet porn in the state.
A child in Florida is shot about once every 17 hours, a cause of death among people under 17 that’s more common than cardiovascular, infectious, or respiratory diseases. Florida’s homeless population has continued to rise over the last decade, with an estimated 10,000 more left houseless after Irma—many of whom suffered very real health crises brought on by overflowing sewage and stormwater, and who are more likely to be the victims of hate crimes than in almost any other state. It’s been estimated that up to 70 percent of people who need mental health counseling in Florida don’t receive it, and since 2014, 827 people have been shot by police who are almost never charged with a crime.
Additionally, the number of state residents viciously tossed around by reptiles is set to surpass state records soon: Alligator attacks in Florida spiked this year, a genuinely deadly, looming health crisis. Additionally, we implore Rep. Spano to consider the marriages that end and the self-esteem that’s lost when a beloved family member is struck by lightning.