05-14-2019 01:57:15 PM -0400
05-09-2019 05:01:30 PM -0400
05-09-2019 01:41:48 PM -0400
04-18-2019 10:46:35 AM -0400
04-18-2019 10:18:40 AM -0400
It looks like you've previously blocked notifications. If you'd like to receive them, please update your browser permissions.
Desktop Notifications are  | 
Get instant alerts on your desktop.
Turn on desktop notifications?
Remind me later.


Take My Name Off R.I. Smut-Blocking Bill, Elizabeth Smart Demands

elizabeth smart speaks in beverly hills

Rhode Island state Sen. Frank Ciccone (D) said he pulled his Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act proposal, also known as the Elizabeth Smart Law, off the state legislature’s calendar Tuesday because of its “dubious origins.”

Smart, who was a teenager when she was kidnapped from the bedroom of her Utah home in 2002, is probably good with that.

Ciccone said his legislation would have allowed people to ask their internet provider to block pornography from their computers. If they changed their mind, and decided a little porn was a good thing, the customer would have to ante up $20 to get their internet providers to unblock sexual content deemed to be too smutty for public dissemination.

“Everyone knows the internet can be a harmful and dangerous environment for our children.  Our kids now have easy access to materials that no child should be viewing, such as pornography and other highly offensive or disturbing material,” said Ciccone. “The purpose of this legislation is to first and foremost protect our children from viewing websites that could have possible detrimental effects to their psyches and developmental process.”

Who could argue with any of that? But then came the news that Smart wanted her name removed from the legislation.

“Elizabeth is not connected with this organization,” Chris Thomas, a spokesman for Smart, told the AP. “There was absolutely no authorization to use her name.”

That was enough to persuade Ciccone to trash the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s scheduled hearing on the proposal Tuesday.

“Also, after learning that Elizabeth Smart was in no way involved with this legislation, and the fact that 18 other state legislatures have received the same erroneous information leading to similar bills being sponsored across the country, I am withdrawing this legislation from the 2018 Senate session,” Ciccone added.

Even before Smart demanded her name be removed from the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act, groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation lined up to oppose the legislation.

While it might be hard to argue with the need to crack down on human trafficking and the exploitation of children, Dave Maass of the EEF claimed it would do neither.

“I am not quite sure whether legislators really fully understand the nanny state this bill would create,” said Maass. “Now what I find fascinating is I just don’t understand how (Sevier) is pulling this off, like how he’s convincing so many people to introduce this bill.”

Randall Marshall, legal director for the ACLU of Alabama, when a similar proposal was introduced in his state last year, said it would create an unconstitutional law.

"The notion that you have to jump through some hoops as an adult to access free information on the Internet violates the First Amendment," Marshall said. "This is censorship, plain and simple."

Now, as for the “dubious origins” of the legislation to which Ciccone referred, that would be a guy by the name of Mark Sevier, who has been pushing this proposal for a couple of years.

A former Nashville lawyer and Christian music producer, Sevier does have a unique personal history which includes an intense relationship with pornography. In 2014, he filed a motion in Florida asking that if “same-sex couples had a right to marry the object of their sexual desire,” he should have the right to marry his “porn-filled Apple computer.”

That motion was dismissed, so Sevier has tried the same thing in Texas. As the Daily Beast reported, Sevier is at least monogamous with his “porn-filled Apple computer” obsession.

The Apple computer identified in the Texas court motion is the same 2011 MacBook that was the object of his desire in Florida.

But Sevier and his Apple have had a tempestuous relationship. He sued Apple in 2013, saying the MacBook should have included a warning about the “damage caused by pornography.”

Although Elizabeth Smart demanded her name not be associated with the legislation, a statement on the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Act website maintained the bill would “single-handedly inflict the greatest blow to human trafficking demand since the inception of the internet.”

“We interviewed countless jons who all say the same narrative after they have been arrested – they ‘just wish it was not so easy to hire prostitutes’ online,” the statement also said. “What happens is that consumers use pornography to numb out emotional pain. After a while many of them want to have porn-like experiences in ‘real life.’”

When the Associated Press notified Sevier that he would be getting a cease-and-desist letter from Smart’s attorney, Sevier said it wasn’t his idea to attach the woman’s name to the proposal. The “Elizabeth Smart Law” label, Sevier said, was “an offhand name” given to the legislation by the politicians who introduced similar bills in at least 18 legislatures, none of which have approved the proposal.

“Obviously, we’re not trying to hurt Elizabeth Smart, for God’s sake,” Sevier said. “We don’t really care what it’s called. We just want it to pass. And we’re going to see to it that it passes, and the law is on our side.”