Those who would censor free discourse in America come from both directions. Case in point: Utah state Senator Todd Weiler favors banning Internet pornography. He has introduced legislation asking the state to declare porn a public health hazard. (Note to self: Don’t let spell-checker turn that into “pubic” health hazard.)

Thoughts: What will federal workers do all day? How will this be enforced? Will the Beehive State deputize roving porn squads?

Alfred Ng of the New York Daily News noticed this item on the wire and followed up. He found that Mr. Weiler (bet you guessed he is a Republican and went to BYU) is what tabloid reporters call a “trained seal.” That is, a source who will talk on the record until he makes himself look stupid in an entertaining way.

The opening gambit drew this quote: “I have read books and I have experts tell me pornography is more difficult to overcome than cocaine.”

Mr. Ng follows up: “He compares the public perception of porn to cigarettes in the early 20th century, when doctors and celebrities openly smoked and advertised them as healthy. He said he hopes to shift the public opinion on adult entertainment the same way it has on cigarettes.”

Still no ideas about enforcement, but at least this idea can be taken semi-seriously. Then the wily reporter shifted the conversation. Mr. Weiler hit the bait and dragged it 200 feet out to sea. Check this: “My resolution does not deal with masturbation. I think that’s beyond the scope of what I’m doing. We’re not going to outlaw masturbation in Utah.”

It is a relief to know the Utah Supreme Court will never have to deal with the sticky area of nocturnal emissions.

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