Can Porn Save Alabama?

Lawmakers are banking on it.
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Lawmakers are banking on it.
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Porn means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s an easy way to get off. For others, it’s the great undoing of American family mores. For lawmakers in Alabama, however, it could become a major source of revenue.

State Rep. Jack Williams has proposed a 50 percent tax on sales of pornography, and he’s predicting major yields – as much as $20 million a year.  But before you start wondering what this guy’s beef is with porn, let it be known that the proposal is in response to the state’s massive budget deficit, around $200 million. Some see it, along with other sin taxes, as the only way to get tax-adverse state legislators on board with tax hikes.

"It's a very fluid situation," Williams toldU.S. News & World Report.  “There seems to be a commitment in this body to do this. I don’t know of anyone who’s planning to vote against this.” His bill was approved Wednesday by an Alabama House of Representatives committee, and Williams expects the bill to become law in 2016.

While the law would spell trouble for lovers of cheap titillation and porn purveyors, its scope won’t reach online pornography – where most of us watch it anyway.

However, it could have consequences for other domains, such as art, literature, and entertainment, since the bill stipulates that porn can include books, drawings, and audio recordings. Who is to say that some curmudgeonly lawmaker can’t point to a tasteful nude painting and declare it pornography? Ironically, the bill does explicitly exempt videos rated "R" or "NC-17" by the Motion Picture Association of America, so Alabamians don’t have to worry about paying double for Fifty Shades of Grey DVDs. Phew!

While the 50 percent tax does seem a bit draconian to us, it sounds like Alabama politicians are learning the hard way that you’ve sometimes got to do some crazy things to make a few bucks. And if you’re still buying porn in some shop in Alabama and not watching it online, then nothing is probably ever going to stop you anyway.

Photos by Getty Images