Man Behind Proposed “Porn Vending Machines” Law in North Dakota at It Again, This Time in Rhode Island

Chris Sevier, an anti-pornography activist who also uses the names Chris Severe, Mark Severe, and Mark Sevier.

Back during the 2017 legislative session I flagged a bizarre piece of legislation, introduced by Bismarck Republican Lawrence Klemin, which would have (among other things) required that every internet-capable device sold in North Dakota be equipped with porn filtering by default.

HB1185, which would have defined internet-capable devices as “porn vending machines”, was ultimately withdrawn from consideration by Klemin after it got attention from myself and other critics by way of a voice vote which happened while I was actually interviewing the activist pushing for the legislation on air. Chris Severe (how he spells it in his emails) or Sevier (how he spells it on his website) didn’t take the rejection well, suggesting I was a part of the “liberal media” and accusing me of watching child pornography (audio here).

Anyway, he’s at it again, this time in Rhode Island and under the name of Mark Sevier. A lawmaker there who introduced Sevier’s legislation as the Elizabeth Smart Law (apparently without bothering to ask if Smart, the 2002 kidnapping victim, wanted her name attached to it) has now asked that it be withdrawn due to its “dubious origins.”

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 [Democratic state Senator Frank] 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.”

It’s remarkable that Sevier has been successful as he has been in getting lawmakers, apparently from both parties, to sign on to his wacky proposals. You’d think a lawmaker, approached by an activist like Sevier to introduce a bill, would at least take the time to do a Google search or two.

Because it’s not like this guy’s history is hard to find:

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.”

It just goes to show how often politicians prioritize the attention a particular policy initiative might earn them, particularly when attached to hot-button issues like human trafficking, over a rational consideration of the substance of the policy itself. Not to mention its provenance.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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