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Librarians for Porn

Friday, 27 June 2003 12:00 AM

The American Library Association (ALA), our librarians, are entrusted with the books and reference materials chronicling the world’s development. Basically, if you are a librarian you have seen it all. Unfortunately, the librarians want everyone else to see it all also, even our children.

Libraries used to be thought of as safe havens for our children. It is unlikely that most parents give a second thought about their children’s moral safety when they are dropped off at the library for an afternoon of study.

However, just about every library nowadays has computer terminals and Internet connections. Also in this day and age, everyone knows that the Internet can, in addition to being a tremendous tool in a student's search for knowledge, be a place where virtually every perversion and pornographic impulse can be indulged by a vast number of "adult" Web sites.

Still, we needn’t worry; our ever vigilant and ever watchful librarians would never allow smut to permeate the hallowed halls of America’s study rooms. Think again. Librarians are not necessarily what they have been cracked up to be. Not even when it comes to caring about the filth that may be viewed by the children of America on the libraries' computer terminals.

Recently, the government wisely wanted to put "filters" on library computers so that children, young and old, would have offensive pornographic "adult" Web sites blocked. CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) was introduced as a law to ensure that.

Inexplicably, at least for people who can think and have a moral compass, the librarians declared that they didn’t like that idea one bit. In fact, the ALA spent millions of dollars fighting the idea of electronically blocking vile pornography from the computer terminals used by children in our libraries.

The ALA arguments against CIPA were many, but basically they boiled down to the perception that blocking pornographic Web sites is an infringement on the First Amendment.

It was a bit of an odd argument, coming from the folks who kept "men’s magazines" and other pornographic magazines and books off the library shelves of virtually every library in the nation. It makes you wonder how willingly they were engaged in that earlier pedestrian endeavor.

In any case, the Supreme Court agreed with the government of the United States and all parents who care about their kids, and found against the librarians. The librarians lost their fight to keep pornography available to any child who uses a computer terminal at the library, but they are still really ticked off about it.

On their Web site, ala.org, the librarians posted on June 23, 2003, an article entitled "ALA denounces Supreme Court ruling on Children’s Internet Protection Act," expressing their displeasure with the Supreme Court’s ruling. "The American Library Association (ALA) today expressed disappointment in today’s very narrow decision from the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Children’s Internet Protection Act."

The ruling was 6-3. In other words, it was a 2-to-1 romp. But for librarians it somehow became "narrow" because "Justices Kennedy and Breyer did not join Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion, they only joined the judgment," which is pretty amazing coming from Judith Krug, who is the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

For librarians, voting for something is not seen as quite authentic since you didn’t express yourself in other ways. Thinking like that explains much about the ALA’s mindset, or lack thereof.

In their grief over losing the important right for all youngsters to view pornographic Web sites, the ALA is lashing out and demanding "full disclosure of what sites filtering companies are blocking, who is deciding what is filtered and what criteria are being used."

It seems the folks from our friendly neighborhood library, who were fighting the government in the Supreme Court to keep pornography available for all who use the library, lost but still feel they are the most qualified to decide what is "good" for our children.

The ALA is demanding that it have the last say as to which Web sites are blocked from prying eyes and which are not. How comforting for all parents.

The notion that our public libraries are being run by folks who see their role as being anti-government and selfishly devoted to some abstract concept of what free speech entails, at the expense of the emotional and moral health of our children, should bring pause to virtually every mother and father and child’s guardian across the land.

The librarians view themselves as soldiers in a war against infringements on the First Amendment; in fact, they seem to see themselves as duty bound to fight our government.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist explained in the Court’s decision, "Appellees [Librarians] mistakenly contend ... filtering conditions distort the usual functioning of public libraries ..., public libraries have no role that pits them against the government, and the interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling. ... [A]ll Members of the Court appear to agree."

Sadly, the librarians seem to be speaking only for themselves and the fringe Left, and not for parents or even the libraries’ patrons. What possible good can be found in allowing hard-core pornography on library computer terminals? What parent, at least a caring parent, would side with the decision by the ALA to fight to keep pornography in libraries?

The ALA has taken many controversial stands in the past, some of which can be described as not very patriotic. However, the thought that the people we entrust with our children after school, during study time, fought to keep pornography from being blocked at the library is just plain disgusting.

While it is true that not all librarians are members of the ALA, over 60,000 are. It would be nice to think that it is just the upper echelon of the ALA that is willing to use the utterly dubious argument that blocking hard-core pornography from their computer terminals is somehow "infringing" on the First Amendment, but it is not likely.

The law as it now stands allows the filters to be turned off if requested by an adult patron. It also allows unobjectionable Web sites that are mistakenly blocked to be unblocked when discovered by the library. Yet the ALA still chose to express its "disappointment" over a decision that is, by any sense of decency, a good decision that is geared to protect our children from the perversions of the many triple-X-rated W ebsites on the Internet.

The ALA says it also believes in protecting our children from offensive Web sites, but, like many people without integrity, principals or uprightness, it talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk.

In fact, many libraries are willing to forego federal funding and ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling, thereby continuing to have pornography available for all our children to view at their leisure.

For instance, the Los Angeles city library system, according to an article in the News-Sentinel on June 25, is not be accepting any federal grants so that it may presumably allow pornography to be displayed at the library.

The Napa Valley Register reports that Napa libraries will also not be paying any attention to the Supreme Court’s ruling. In a June 24 article, the Napa News reports that a reporter was quite capable of viewing "images of nude women for several minutes with nary a peep from the busy librarian."

The article also quoted Napa library director Janet McCoy as saying, "We feel that the best filter is human intervention."

It does make one wonder, and not just about the obvious. By not accepting federal money, the libraries are saying that they are willing to forego the services and books that money would have bought so that they may continue to provide pornography for their patrons. To paraphrase the Bard, something is rotten at the ALA. Will the money not taken from the government be subsidized by the porno sites?

The bottom line is that the people guarding our books, the members of the ALA, should not be entrusted with watching our children. Not ever.

Additionally, the libraries that forego federal funds to ensure the continued transmission of pornography to their computer terminals should also forego having the phrase "public library" to describe themselves. They are, in effect, no longer suitable places for our children.

Paul Walfield is a freelance writer and a California attorney. He can be contacted at

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The American Library Association (ALA), our librarians, are entrusted with the books and reference materials chronicling the world's development.Basically, if you are a librarian you have seen it all.Unfortunately, the librarians want everyone else to see it all also, even...
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Friday, 27 June 2003 12:00 AM
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