12 months ago

State Rep. Garrett: Pornography is a public health crisis

In a recent op-ed, al.com columnist Kyle Whitmire made light of the passage by the Alabama Senate of a resolution proposed by State Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) declaring pornography a health crisis. He even posted a video on social media mocking the resolution. I have met Kyle on a few occasions, and I usually read his column.

But I believe Kyle missed the mark this time. I believe he thinks the Senate resolution was just another Bible thumpin’, “T-R-O-U-B-L-E in River City” pander, or to use his words—”silly, self-gratification at the public’s expense.”

I could not disagree more.

Before I explain why, let me say that I agreed with several points in Kyle’s article. Toxic soil in neighborhoods and playgrounds, and groundwater contamination caused by the dumping of toxins in rivers are indeed public crises that should be investigated and remediated. Guilty participants should be held accountable. Healthcare in Alabama, particularly in rural areas, has been in crisis for years. Federal and state governments have been slow and lackluster to improve the access, affordability and quality of healthcare. And while we can debate the merits of Medicaid expansion, most agree it would be a band-aid and not a permanent solution. Alabama’s prisons have been in crisis for decades. I read the Department of Justice report about the conditions in our state prisons; it was appalling and incredibly disturbing.

Let’s be clear, the legislature will address many of these issues in the current session. There will be increased funding for prison construction and staffing and for inmate health and rehabilitation, as well as bills proposing sentencing reform. Funding for numerous healthcare initiatives across the state will be increased, including significantly more money for mental health — a serious issue in Alabama. The legislature will allocate money to our public schools to address student mental health issues. In addition, I hope to work with my Black Belt colleagues to combat the reemergence of hookworm in Alabama. These difficult issues will need ongoing focus and more attention in future legislative sessions.

But “whataboutism” and caustic wit should not be used to trivialize and diminish the focus on pornography, a very serious issue adversely impacting lives all over Alabama. Another al.com columnist, Rachel Blackmon Bryars wrote an excellent rebuttal to Kyle’s article that provides insight, perspective and data about pornography.

Many people think of porn as risqué magazines, erotic movies, racy books and strip joints frequented by adults. Why would the legislature be so “dumb” as to waste time to pass another unenforceable, self-righteous, morality resolution that meddles in a person’s right to live as they choose?

First, the purpose of Senate resolution was to raise public awareness about the growing influence of pornography in our society, especially on the lives of children, teenagers and young adults. The digital age and technology have given the pornography industry an incredible platform. Porn is accessible 24/7 over the internet and all forms of social media. Through these vast mediums, an increasing number of children are exposed to hard-core porn at early ages and are becoming addicted. I have spoken to teachers and school officials who know first-hand the negative impacts that early exposure to pornography has on children. Sexting — texting of sexually explicit images and self-images — is not uncommon among middle school students and an alarming number of elementary school students. Numerous psychological, medical, mental health and neurological studies have concluded that repeated exposure to porn often leads to addiction. Pornography addictions tend to augment, often leading to other forms and levels of pornographic activity, sometimes culminating in criminal acts.

Without even considering the overwhelming medical and psychological evidence, it is easy to understand how children who are exposed to sexual information and experiences that are not age-appropriate can be affected for life. Many in the legislature are aware of instances where unrestricted availability and inundation of sexually explicit content has impacted children and teenagers we know. We have heard from constituents whose families are facing the consequences of pornographic addictions. Most of these began with introduction to pornography on a website. These situations have often led to depression and severe emotional, psychological and even physical problems. Unfortunately, all of us are aware of instances of sex-trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual violence in our communities and across our state, and pornography is at the root of all these offenses. Sadly, some victims are not with us today. Murder and suicide-related to pornography occur at alarming rates.

We have gone to great lengths in our society to protect children from the harmful effects of tobacco and the onslaught of advertising by tobacco companies. We have taken the same stance for alcohol and alcohol abuse prevention. Why would we not do the same to protect our children from the harmful effects of pornography?

The unanimous, bipartisan Senate resolution—which was crafted based upon much research and multiple studies — is an attempt to raise awareness about a problem that is worsening each day in our communities. I hope the Alabama House of Representatives will also adopt the resolution, and I sincerely hope the resolution will help people to begin to understand why addressing pornography is so important.

Let’s not underestimate how early exposure to pornography is affecting the health and mental well-being of our citizens, especially children, teenagers and young adults. Rather than make light of pornography, let’s work together to shed light on the harmful impact that pornography has on the lives of the people who call Alabama home.

Danny Garrett is a Republican representative serving House District 44, which includes Trussville, Clay and Pinson. He is Vice Chair of both the Education Ways and Means and the Education Policy Committees and serves as the House Majority Whip.

5 hours ago

Alabama basketball defeats Mississippi State to stay undefeated in SEC play

The Alabama Crimson Tide are now 8-0 in conference play after defeating Mississippi State 81-73 on Saturday.

With a formula of driving the lane and passing out to perimeter shooters, Alabama has made the three-point shot their go-to game plan behind shooters like John Petty and Jaden Shackelford.

For the Bulldogs, their defense was up to the task at times. However, in crucial moments of the game, Mississippi State was unable to cover Bama’s three-point specialists and ended up getting burned.

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In their victory over the Bulldogs, Bama shot over 42% from behind the line, and Petty tied with freshman guard Joshua Primo for the most threes in the game at four. Mississippi State as a team only hit four three-pointers on Saturday.

Petty spoke to Dari Nowkhah and Daymeon Fishback on the SEC Network’s “SEC Now” after the game. On how he and his teammates have had so much success from behind the arc, Petty said, “We honestly don’t shoot as many threes in practice as you would expect from what we shoot in our games.”

That is hard to believe, considering how well the Tide have done this season shooting the three. Through just 16 games, the Alabama hoops squad has hit 165 three-point shots.

Herb Jones is arguably Bama’s best all-around player. On both offense and defense, he is able to be a difference-maker for his team. Saturday, Jones was the leading scorer on his team with 17 points. He also added five rebounds and seven assists to his stat line.

Bama head coach Nate Oats has completely changed the way Alabama is playing basketball, and his players seem to not only enjoy but also flourish in his system. His system is predicated on the players having the freedom to shoot almost anytime they want as long as the ball has touched the paint, or inside, at least once on the possession.

On playing for Oats, Petty said, “It’s been great playing for coach Oats. He gives us freedom on the offensive end, as long as you’re playing hard on defense, he gives you that freedom on offense to just play.”

Petty added that he was used to the freedom of his play in high school, and he enjoys being able to play with the freedom to shoot when he wants.

For a player like Petty, shot freedom is the reason he has become a star the last two seasons.

On how many threes he would make out of 100 wide-open shots, Petty stated, “If I shot 100 wide-open threes, I would probably hit at least 85.”

He added with a laugh, “I’m pretty high level when I’m wide open.”

Alabama is playing better and better each week, even beating some of the top SEC schools handily, including Kentucky, Florida and Auburn.

The Tide are on their way up and remain at the top of the conference with the only true challenges left being teams they have already beaten.

One of those teams travels to Tuscaloosa this week, as Alabama takes on Kentucky in Coleman Coliseum for a rematch. The first time the two teams met this season, Bama defeated the Wildcats by 20 points. The game is set to take place on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. CT in another tough test for the Tide and their unblemished conference record.

Alabama’s win on Saturday moves their overall record to 13-3 on the season.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

7 hours ago

Fmr State Rep. Ed Henry: Pardon possibility looked bleak at the very end — Came at last minute from Trump at behest of Mo Brooks

Last week, former State Rep. Ed Henry was among 73 individuals to receive an end-of-term pardon from President Donald Trump, but it was not a certainty until the very end, according to Henry, who had pleaded guilty to a Medicare fraud case in 2019.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5 on Friday, Henry said the process had actually begun in September and was on track through the end of the year until the events of January 6 ensued.

However, with just hours remaining in the Trump presidency, which included lobbying from U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), Henry received word he would receive the pardon.

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“I had desired one but didn’t even know how to do the process,” he said. “A close friend of mine, businessman up here, Tom Fredericks, reached out to Congressman [Mo] Brooks at a breakfast and just said, ‘I need you to look into working on a pardon for Ed Henry. Congressman Brooks — he had known the case. He had followed it, and I had given him all kinds of information about the lunacy of what they were claiming. He agreed, and he said I had never done this before but started the process back in September and just trying to figure out how to do the pardon. Basically, you’ve just got to get enough people to push it through the White House counsel. Senator [Tommy] Tuberville got on board right after he got elected. And then, Congressman Barry Moore from down in Enterprise in the second district has known about the case from the beginning. He and I served in the House together, so he knew the entirety of it. And they started pushing.”

“We were in line to get the pardon I was told probably in December,” Henry continued. “And then, all the chaos that ensued on January 6 kind of changed the landscape, and I have a friend that works in the White House staff — I didn’t know they were still there until all of this started happening — but I was told instead of the list getting longer, which is what typically happens on the last day of the president’s term,  President Trump’s list got shorter. At 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, I got a message from Congressman Brooks that said he said he had just spoken with Donald Trump, and my name did not make the 72 people that were getting a pardon. Congressman Brooks asked President Trump to specifically look at my case and the merits of what had gone on, despite White House counsel. President Trump told him, ‘I’ll look at it, but it is probably too late. I don’t think I can make it happen at this point.'”

“We were a little bit let down,” he added. “But honestly, I felt at peace about it. It doesn’t really define me, and I was ready to move on. And at 10 o’clock, I got a call back from Congressman Brooks that said the President of the United States just called and said, ‘Call Ed Henry. Let him know he’s a good guy. And I’ve got his pardon.’ It took two hours to actually pull all of that together, and at midnight, my phone started blowing up from different people all around the country that I had received the last presidential pardon that Donald Trump gave.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

9 hours ago

Lake Eufaula lands 2021 Bassmaster Team Championship event

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The last spot in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will be filled on historic Lake Eufaula as this Alabama fishery hosts the Bassmaster Team Championship and Classic Fish-Off Dec. 8-11, 2021.

Battling for that coveted berth in the Bassmaster Classic will be the grassroots anglers competing at the Bassmaster Team Championship. The team portion of the event will be held Dec. 8-9 and will feature anglers from across the country — 32 states in 2020. The winning duo will not only win a cash prize, but they’ll also lead the charge into the Classic Fish-Off which will take place Dec. 10-11.

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The top three teams through Day 2 — six anglers in all — will have their weights zeroed and then compete individually in the Fish-Off. The competitor with the heaviest two-day total of the group will earn their spot in the Classic. 

In 2020, that honor went to Jordan Wiggins, a 29-year-old Cullman, Ala., resident whose older brother Jesse notched a third-place finish in the 2019 Classic.

“What a wonderful way to end a year,” says Ann Sparks, Tourism and Main Street Executive Director for the City of Eufaula. “We are thrilled to be hosting the Bassmaster Team Championship and showing off what Lake Eufaula has to offer! Most anglers have fished our great lake, but we are excited to show off our changes and improvements to our beautiful town.”

B.A.S.S. has visited Lake Eufaula 17 times for major events, including an Elite Series tournament last year that was broadcast live to an audience of more than 2.8 million. The town itself — with a statue declaring Eufaula as the “Big Bass Capital of the World” — is known throughout the fishing industry as the hometown of legendary angler and lure designer Tom Mann. It’s the home of Mann’s Bait Company and the Johnson Outdoors location where Humminbird electronics are produced.

In addition to the Team Championship event, Lake Eufaula will also host the Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX on May 1.

The tournaments are being hosted by the Eufaula Barbour Chamber of Commerce.

(Courtesy of B.A.S.S.)

9 hours ago

Del Marsh: Legislative priorities include gaming, broadband for remainder of Alabama Senate tenure; Expect gambling proposal next week

Earlier this year, State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) announced he was stepping down from the pro tempore post, and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) would assume the role for the 2021 legislative session.

Marsh says he gave up the pro tem position he had held since 2010 to focus on his legislative priorities centered around education.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Friday, Marsh gave listeners a preview of his efforts, including gaming and rural broadband internet access. The Calhoun County Republican revealed details of his gaming proposal would be “probably out next week.”

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“One of the first things I’m going to be coming out with, and details will probably out next week — I’ve been working for some months on a comprehensive gaming package for the state of Alabama,” he said. “And the reason I’m doing this, Jeff — one is to provide scholarships for our young people — not only to those going to four-year universities — the scholarships to post-secondary, the trade schools that we have such a desperate need for those types of skills in Alabama but I think that a lottery will provide that. On the other side, you’ve heard me talk for some time about the need for broadband and the state of Alabama coverage from part of the state to the other. Rural areas during this pandemic have been unequally served because they don’t have access. I mean, think about the kids out there that are doing virtual learning, and then those that can’t do it at all because they don’t have internet access.”

“I think that a gaming bill can provide a long-term statewide broadband program and provide scholarships for our young people and young adults, who are perhaps looking at career changes,” Marsh added. “That piece of legislation will be a constitutional amendment. It’ll be for the people to vote on. It is my intention to get it through the Senate and the House. I’ve been working closely with leadership in both houses, and I’m optimistic we can get something out. It will tail onto the gaming commission the governor just finished. My bill had already had a lot of those components in it. But we’ve taken the suggestions of the governor’s gaming commission and added them into the piece of legislation, and I look forward to getting that out and letting the people take a look at that early in the session.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

10 hours ago

Auburn basketball begins to find its stride in a 109-86 beat down of South Carolina

The Auburn Tigers have had a rough going in the beginning of SEC play, losing five of their last seven SEC games coming into Saturday’s matchup with South Carolina. However, recent wins against Kentucky and Georgia have put the Tigers on a much brighter path with endless possibilities.

One big factor for the turnaround is point guard Sharife Cooper, who had to work out eligibility issues with the NCAA early in the season.

In the game Saturday, Cooper picked up a double-double by scoring 16 points and recording 12 assists to propel Auburn to a 109-86 victory over the Gamecocks. The 6’1” point guard also managed to snag six rebounds for the Tigers.

Guard Allen Flanigan scored the most points of anyone in this contest, which has become normal for the sophomore this season. Flanigan went 4-6 from the three-point line to help get him to his team-high 24 points.

Defeating the Gamecocks was a big win for this young Tiger team, considering that even the most experienced Bruce Pearl-coached teams have had trouble facing Frank Martin’s squads.

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However, the Tigers were able to get it done in Columbia. The key to the win was getting the entire team involved. Pearl’s group had no problem there with five players scoring in double figures.

This Auburn team made history with 109 points being the most ever against an SEC team on the road in program history. On the record-breaking performance, Flanigan said, “Everybody who comes to Auburn, we come here to make history. We made history tonight.”

Forwards J.T. Thor and Jaylin Williams tied for the most rebounds on Saturday at seven a piece. Auburn’s big men are starting to attack the boards, which is something the Tigers have been missing even from their great teams in recent years. Williams added 18 points to his stat line, which was second on the team.

Williams has been a key player in the Tiger’s offense this season so far, but he seemed to start growing towards a more pivotal role this week. That could pay off for Auburn in the long run, considering he is very athletic with a big frame and a confident perimeter shot.

If Pearl can get Williams more comfortable on offense and give him a larger role, the Tigers will have multiple star players to lean on in crucial situations, which is great for a young team.

The Auburn Tigers improve to 3-5 in conference play. They will have a quick turnaround this week, hosting the 19th-ranked Missouri Tigers on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. CT on ESPN 2. If Auburn wants to climb up the SEC ladder, what better opportunity is there than a team in the top five of the conference?

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.