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Eagle Forum leader pushes enforcement of smut laws

Gayle Ruzicka doesn't handcuff her teenagers and follow them around, but she does buy Internet service from a provider that will block access to all computer pornography that tries to make its way into the Ruzicka household.

It's what she - and all Utah parents - must do to ensure her children aren't exposed to an addiction that can be as debilitating as drug abuse, she said.Ruzicka, leader of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum, marked this week's Pornography Awareness Week with the announcement that her group will urge government officials to aggressively enforce state and federal obscenity laws.

"Pornography undermines morality, leads men into destructive sexual addictions, degrades women, destroys marriages and corrupts youths.

"It also threatens public health and contributes to sexual crimes and the deterioration of neighborhoods," Ruzicka said Tuesday from Gov. Mike Leavitt's board room.

And so, the piece of legislation nicknamed the "nudity bill," submitted by a variety of legislators unsuccessfully through the 1990s, will be back next session.

Most versions of the nudity bill have attempted to ban public nudity like that found in strip clubs. Some groups have argued there are legitimate circumstances where public nudity is acceptable, such as the use of nude models used in university art classes.

But that's a gray area, Ruzicka said Tuesday. Some people have blurred the line between art and pornography, she said.

"We call upon the Utah Legislature to tighten laws that regulate sexually oriented businesses," Ruzicka said. "We ask all Utah citizens to join the war on pornography and rid their communities of this destructive influence."

Ruzicka and two other anti-pornography activists said they will push state lawmakers to take action on several pornography-related topics when the Legislature convenes again in January.

The Eagle Forum and other citizen groups must keep the pressure on legislators so certain situations don't fall into the "gray area" of obscenity law where nothing can be done.

Kenda Bartlett, of Utah's chapter of Concerned Women for America, hinted her organization would push to ban pornographic magazines in prisons.

Ruzicka said she still wants to regulate the Internet in Utah's schools.

Although some obscenity laws have been strengthened and there have been many successful battles against pornography and sexually related businesses, pornography is still making inroads into Utah, Ruzicka said. People have more money and time to burn, and access to pornography through magazines, movies, libraries, books, television and the Internet are at an all-time high.

"We're just keeping up with it," she said.

"Utah is prime for pornography," said Lisa Baldwin, who recently led a fight against a Provo strip club.

Residents must band together to make sure sexually oriented businesses, nicknamed SOBs, aren't allowed in their neighborhoods, they said.

Leavitt's proclamation declares that pornography degrades and dehumanizes male and female participants and presents a false and distorted image of human sexuality, one devoid of love, commitment and responsibility. Pornog-ra-phy also promotes sexual violence and other anti-social behavior in an era of increasing sexual violence and and epidemic of sexually transmitted disease.

The declaration noted that people through the country will mark Pornography Awareness Week by displaying white ribbons as a symbol of community standards of decency and to support the enforcement of obscenity laws.