Georgia House Representative, Paulette Rakestraw (R-19), has come under fire for sponsoring HB 509- The Human Trafficking Prevention Act, and critics have taken aim at her for proposing legislation to save children.
This bill takes existing laws in Georgia that apply to brick and mortar retailers requiring pornographic materials to be displayed in stores behind a “blinder rack” and applies it to manufacturers of devices that distribute their products on the Internet.
Currently, retailers have to put magazines like Playboy and Hustler behind a blinder rack, but manufacturers of cell phones, computers and tablets are not required to block illegal content such as prostitution hubs, child pornography and obscenity, and pornography, which is legal, is readily available to minors, and many have become addicted, even though legally they aren’t supposed to access it.
Critics have misunderstood the bill saying it is unconstitutional and violates free speech; however, the Supreme Court has already weighed in on the matter stating that filtering is the “least restrictive method” of protecting free speech while also protecting underage children from this harmful content.
The bill requires that adults over 18 that want the digital filtering device removed to go to the retailer and “opt-in” to have the filter removed and pay a $20 fee, which is coming under attack from critics, calling it a “tax”. However, the fee only applies those to want to receive the pornographic content, and reverses the process where parents are required to go purchase software and be technically savvy enough to install the filters and set them up to protect their children and marriages from this harmful content.
When systems are updated and as these prostitution hubs move around, these filters soon become obsolete, rendering them useless. This bill requires the manufacturers to make agreements with the software companies to keep the filters active, effective and current and compatible with their system and browser updates as changes are made.
Atlanta, Georgia ranks the No. 1 city in the world with the highest sex economy income of $290 million per year. Statistics of the sex trafficking shows that 87% of women in the sex industry said that they wanted to escape but had no other means for survival and that 95% of victims in the lives of prostitution experienced sexual abuse as children.
The average age of a girl who enters into prostitution are between the ages of 11-14 years old and 82.1 percent of victims in sex trafficking are identified as U.S. citizens, (Georgia Bureau of Investigation Human Trafficking Unit).
Measures have been put in place to combat the sex-trafficking industry, but there has been a need to get to the demand side of the industry, and this bill, which has been introduced in 15 states thus far and has a federal movement to put similar requirements in place, will ensure that children and families are protected from the secondary harmful effects of pornography, yet keeps pornography perfectly legal and accessible when someone “opts-in”, assumes the risk and shows proof of age to receive such content.
The critics, mostly Libertarians and some Republicans, say Rakestraw’s bill centers on the $20 fee to remove the digital blocking capability software, calling it a tax and an overreach of government.
There is a companion bill, dropped by Rakestraw, which is a Constitutional amendment that would take the $20 fee and dedicate it to much-needed mental health and addiction treatment in the state and puts the question on the ballot for voters to decide if they want to let the money go to treat this much needed epidemic in our state.
Rakestraw told the Conservative Firing Line, “This bill will help solve a problem in our state and reduce the number of children that get addicted to pornography which harms their mental health and future relationships. And the constitutional amendment would provide a much needed resource for families torn apart by addiction to get them effective, long term treatment to heal their addictions so they can become whole, productive, members of society and heal broken families afflicted by this epidemic.”
“There are new paradigms in addiction treatment and what we have been doing has not been working and there are many non-profits and non-government entities that are getting people healed from the inside out, but most people cannot afford the treatment, “Rakestraw said.
“Because they can’t afford the treatment, we have high numbers of people that go untreated resulting in broken homes, grandparents raising grandchildren in high numbers, a foster care system that doesn’t have enough families to care for the children affected, high homelessness rates, high suicide rates, high numbers of veterans with PTSD that go untreated and huge issues with domestic violence related to these issues.” To the issue of overreach of government Rakestraw says, “We are already paying for this, in our DFACS system, our police systems, our courts, our jails, our schools and all the systems government provides to deal with the fallout of addiction. Government is already providing these services, this measure if to help people to get treatment and help before they reach our prison system and families fall apart. Only 11 percent of the U.S. population gets treatment and many times that isn’t effective because it’s not the long term treatment they need.”
On PJ Media, Tom Knighton stated that Rakestraw apparently has forgotten that her party is supposed to be the party of liberty. She wants a government powerful enough to sit in our homes and tell us what we can and can’t look at on the internet.
When informed that some sites have written up their opinions and critical of her bill, Rakestraw said, “The only people that pay are the people that want the filter removed, and if we can solve a huge epidemic by healing broken people and taking customers away from the Human Traffickers and drug dealers, then charging the people driving the activity makes sense to me.”
To the issue of freedom, Rakestraw says, “The laws are already on the books, and voters get to decide on the dedication of funds related to this issue. That gives people the freedom to choose, and ensures that the manufacturers take responsibility for protecting children with their devices, much like car manufacturers are required to put seat belts in cars before they sell them.”
“My conservative record protecting freedom and voting against tax increases stands for itself, regardless of what the opponents say. I am a compassionate conservative, and solving the human trafficking and addiction problems that plague our society is one of the best things we can do to reduce the size of government ultimately.”
Rakestraw who was first elected in 2010, has sponsored related types of bills such as the Compact for a Balanced Budget amendment, which she now serves as the Georgia Commissioner and is working to unite the states behind a federal balanced budget amendment that returns power to the states. She has also sponsored measures that have reduced regulations by repealing laws that existed on the books and promoting family values.
In related news, a resolution that declares pornography as being a public health crisis passed the Tennessee Senate unanimously on Monday and now moves to the desk of Gov. Bill Haslam for signing.
The resolution had been presented by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, at the urging of Ricky Darr of Make America Porn Free, which works in conjunction with the organization Girls Against Porn and Human Trafficking to urge enforcement of obscenity laws and “to remove the easy accessibility of pornography from the reach of children.”
Similar resolutions have been presented this year in Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.
Some people mistakenly believe that all pornography is legal. This is certainly a myth that the pornography industry and many socially liberal institutions, including many in the mainstream media, would have us believe.
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