By David Tulis
Chattanooga’s electricity utility has for the past 3½ years streamed pornographic videos to customers in the city limits and beyond through its Internet division.
Total revenues from sex movies in 2012 was F$124,784, according to information provided by staff attorney Katie King under the authority of a state records request.
In January the power distributor and telecom outfit aired 225 pornographic movies with titles such as “Housewives: Swinger Sex Orgy Party,” “All Day Sex Fest,” “Bang My Wife Please,” “Lesbian Teen Tryouts” and “Take Every Inch.” The most profitable month was May with revenue of F$10,544, with the slowest month being June, with F$8,672.
The company is heavily subsidized by federal tax money, which it has spent on “smart grid” applications and Internet service, including video streaming. The fiber-optics network and the pornography lineup were launched in September 2009. Board meeting minutes for that and the following month indicate no late debate or regrets about pornography offerings.
My questions to EPB
I requested comment from EPB’s public relations office, and received a statement from coordinator John Pless about the imperative before the company to not censor protected speech.
As a government entity EPB is prohibited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution from making content-based restrictions on speech, or censoring protected speech. EPB believes it is up to our customers to decide what legally protected content they choose to watch. EPB does offer parental controls with our Fi TV service that allows our customers to block whatever content they choose to block in their homes and businesses.
The questions I had asked are as follows:
1. Is EPB confident it is doing the right thing acting as a voluntary conduit for adult material?
2. Does EPB, as a government entity, have any qualms about offering movies to people that make them uncomfortable and dissatisfied with their lots in life, whether married or unmarried?
3. Does pornography have a pernicious effect in the relations between a man and a woman, whether married or not?
4. Is the service offered as restorative and helpful to marital relations, and so fulfill EPB’s state interest in marriage? (See Tennessee Jurisprudence, “Marriage,” esp. Cole v. Cole 37 Tenn (5 Sneed) 57 (1857) and McKinney v. Clarke, 32 Tenn (2 Swan) 321 (1852). Marriage is a matter of state interest and “a matter of municipal regulation.”)
In light of the moral nature of these questions, even their spiritual interest, it seems EPB’s remark about “making content-based restrictions on speech, or censoring protected speech” is beside the point. And how can it be censorship when to obtain these materials EPB has to seek out providers, negotiate contracts and then obtain delivery? How can refraining from such business be akin to censorship?
My information request under state law for details about these contracts has not been forthcoming, even under a 10-day deadline set under statute.
Little protest at time
Two parties appear to be on record in the media as having protested the company’s decision as a government entity to provide pornography as a service to taxpayers and the general public. David Fowler of Family Action Council said it is a moral evil for EPB to offer sex movies. “The government simply should not offer pornography stations on cable networks they own,” he said. “The government should not be more interested in making money than they are in disseminating material that has destroyed so many lives and families.”
The second person to object was this writer, who on a prolife website Abortionchattanooga.com suggested pornography is breach of the hedge of protection for the marital bed and a form of temptation. “We should oppose pornography not on moralistic grounds, but on biblical ones,” I noted. “It not so much as causes crime, corruption and dissolution that the moralist warns of, but is these things. It sows among men, its primary consumers, discontent with their state. Single men whose vessels God commands to be kept pure for marriage are tempted by anarchies of the flesh.”
A powerful industry
Global figures for the pornography industry put it at F$97 billion a year. In the U.S., the revenues for pornography are at least F$14 billion, according to a group that seeks to deflect the influence of porn in Christendom (Purehope.net).
Much of the profitability of the sex entertainment industry has been lost to the Internet, where endless movies and images are available for free.