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Before Twitter porn controversy, Ted Cruz didn’t think masturbating was a laughing matter

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On Monday night, the official Twitter account of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) liked a tweet that featured an adult video. Hilarity and lots of jokes ensued.

Cruz’s senior communications adviser, Catherine Frazier, initially tried to explain away the like by suggesting that someone may have hacked into Cruz’s account. She claimed that staff had “reported” the tweet, which was posted by @SexuallPosts, to Twitter.

Talking with reporters hours later, Cruz joked about the incident while making sure to emphasize that it wasn’t his fault.

Pornography might be fun and games for Cruz given the current circumstances, but it really shouldn’t be something he jokes about.

While Cruz was solicitor general in Texas, his office defended a state ban on sex toy sales, and his office wrote a legal brief arguing that people don’t have the legal right to masturbate.

“There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship,” the brief said.

More from Mother Jones:

The brief insisted that Texas, in order to protect “public morals,” had  “police-power interests” in “discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors.” There was a  “government” interest, it maintained, in “discouraging…autonomous sex.” The brief compared the use of sex toys to “hiring a willing prostitute or engaging in consensual bigamy,” and it equated advertising these products with the commercial promotion of prostitution.

A court of appeals ruled against Cruz. In a decision, judges rejected Cruz’s argument and characterized the case as being “about controlling what people do in the privacy of their own homes because the State is morally opposed to a certain type of consensual private intimate conduct… Whatever one might think or believe about the use of these devices, government interference with their personal and private use violates the Constitution.”

During the presidential campaign, Cruz clarified that the views he supported in his role as solicitor general don’t reflect his personal ones on this issue. But early last year, team Cruz pulled an ad after it was revealed that one of the actresses in it previously starred in softcore porn. A Cruz spokesman told BuzzFeed that “had the campaign known of her full filmography, we obviously would not have let her appear in the ad.”

The conservative National Review’s Charles C. Cooke panned the Cruz campaign’s decision to pull the ad, writing, “Why can’t soft porn actresses be in campaign commercials? Or in anything else for that matter? She wasn’t performing soft pornography in the commercial, nor was she doing anything else that would be inappropriate for a political spot.”

Haughtiness about sex is a problem that goes beyond Cruz, however. It’s enshrined right in the Republican Party platform, which characterizes internet pornography as a “public health crisis.”

“The internet must not become a safe haven for predators,” says a provision in the platform that was based with little debate in July of last year. “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children’s safety and well-being. We applaud the social networking sites that bar sex offenders from participation. We urge energetic prosecution of child pornography which closely linked to human trafficking.”

As ThinkProgress detailed earlier this year, the election of President Trump and Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress galvanized organizations looking to crack down on pornography on both the federal and state levels. Vice President Mike Pence “authored a 2005 child pornography bill that would have also cracked down on other ‘obscenity’ and told a 2005 ‘Capitol Hill Summit on Pornography‘ that he wanted to ‘to be creative within constitutional protections’ to keep minors from seeing porn, including requiring that all adult content on the Internet be segregated on a ‘dot-porn’ URL.” Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pushed for tough enforcement of obscenity laws. 

In short, Ted Cruz shouldn’t be criticized for watching pornography. But he can be criticized for how hypocritical he and his party have been about it.

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