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The Bible Belt's Love Affair With (Gay and Straight) Porn

The GOP presidential hopefuls keep vilifying porn. Odd that the very people they're trying to pander to consume massive amounts of it.

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Santorum, clearly, would like to see a lot more federal obscenity prosecutions—and in obscenity cases, the standard that jurors use to determine obscenity is the Miller test, which was outlined in the Supreme Court’s  Miller v. California  decision of 1973. According to the Miller test, sexually explicit material is legal as long as it isn’t obscene. In order for something to be obscene, it must: 1) appeal to a prurient interest when contemporary community standards are applied; 2) be patently offensive; and 3) lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value when taken as a whole (the so-called “SLAPS test”). In American obscenity cases, prosecutors typically hope the juries will be in the most socially conservative parts of the country. But if the data shows that a great deal of erotica is being consumed in those places, it becomes harder to make the case that the material in question is out of step with “contemporary community standards.”

Nonetheless, many Republican politicians will continue to make the false claim that porn is strictly for “blue state liberals.” And the more they push a socially conservative agenda, the more “red state” voters will consume porn—even if they are in the closet about it.

Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist who has spent 10 years studying the adult entertainment industry and publishes the industry-oriented blog (the PVV stands for “Porn Valley Vantage”), asserted: “If you teach people about sex and if people have access to information about sex, they’re more likely to regard it in a measured way and make informed decisions. In a place where the lockdown on porn is so tight, it’s not surprising to me that the interest in it and the searching for it is so high. In a place where you have more access to information about sex, there isn’t this frantic panic to see what’s going on and delve in. The stricter the regulations, the higher the interest.”

Alex Henderson's work has appeared in the L.A. Weekly, Billboard, Spin, Creem, the Pasadena Weekly and many other publications.

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