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Banning Porn and Lots More

In what might be a first, a public library has publicly banned the public viewing of porn on all library computers, and not just the computers in the children’s section. It’s a bold move, and one sure to annoy the ALA.

Somehow it doesn’t bother anyone that public libraries don’t buy and display pornographic novels and magazines, if such things still exist, but some people claim that viewing pornography on public library computers is a First Amendment right, including the library director, who “indicated that an adult viewing porn at the library may be an uncomfortable reality of defending First Amendment rights.” Good luck with that case in front of the Supreme Court.

While it’s possible that things will go smoothly, I foresee a hiccup, even among those who couldn’t care less whether the library allows porn or not.

From the article: “if there’s a complaint, library staff can point to the policy to halt the person viewing pornography or other offensive material.”

Do you see the problem yet?

One of the new rules is: “Displaying pornography or any other content found to be harassing, disturbing, or offensive to others is not allowed.”

How about now?

The problem with that statement as worded is that there’s seemingly no end to the things that could be considered “harassing, disturbing, or offensive to others,” or at least BY others. And who’s to be the judge besides the others?

The librarians can say something shouldn’t be offensive, but they can’t possibly say that someone else hasn’t been offended.

Maybe it hasn’t made it to Anchorage, AK where this library is because the mule trains through the wilderness are slow or whatever, but we live in the age of microaggressions, public outrage expressed by meddlesome busybodies, and people who apparently get offended by a whole bunch of things that probably wouldn’t bother them at all if their lives had some purpose other than reacting to things they don’t like.

What could be “harassing” to others? It sure wouldn’t just have to be porn. An anti-LGBT or anti-Trump screed visible on a computer could be considered harassment by various people.

Before the Internet ruined personal social interactions, these types of things would just be ignored, but now everyone exercises their right to complain and believes that means other people should take them seriously.

Disturbing? Okay, that one might be a little harder. Everybody but serial killers seems to be disturbed by images of brutally murdered bodies. If someone complained about that, it would be hard for a reasonable person to argue against it.

Not that some librarians wouldn’t, since they still believe a right to produce “speech” is the same as the right to consume it in every location.

Given its role in the most recent election and that it’s mostly driven by bots and monsters, I find Twitter pretty disturbing. If I complained that someone was viewing Twitter would that be enough?

What about articles on police shootings of unarmed black men? Or the accompanying videos? All sorts of people find those disturbing and they should.

Offensive? That’s where the floodgates open wide and the sad world of every troll, busybody, and hater comes flushing through. There’s no limit to what some people will find offensive.

I’ll start with me. Buzzfeed and its ilk, I find them all offensive. Every website that attempts to distract with meaningless, mindless clickbait is an offense to my intelligence and an attempt to stupify my fellow citizens.

I would probably rather see just about any sex act not involving animals than be accosted by headlines like “Only People Who Are Actually Best Friends Have Done 27/39 Of These Things” or “OMG, You Need To See Chrissy Teigen’s Hilarious Reply To Eric Trump On Twitter.” If you weren’t stupid before reading those articles, you would be afterwards because they would have sucked the intelligence right out of you, and that’s bad for us all.

What else could someone consider offensive? Alex Jones ranting about whatever nonsense he’s ranting about these days? Feminist propaganda? Nazi propaganda? Abortion videos? PETA videos? The latest news on President Trump? Lots of people find these offensive. 

Maybe they have cool heads up in Alaska. They did at least once elect a ridiculous governor, but that could just be a sign they have more important things to worry about, like not dying alone in an abandoned school bus in the wilderness, which based upon my knowledge of Alaska is how everybody dies.

If so, they can adjust reasonably to a reasonable policy. In the rest of the world, there are people always lined up to be offended about something, and libraries have to be wary.

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Comments

  1. Annoying Librarian says:

    That’s not a first. We’ve always banned porn in our library. Luckily, we have a state law to back us up. It’s not even a first for Alaska, according to the article you cite.

  2. We’ve banned porn at ours. I understand the dilemma with first amendment and watching what you want but I think it’s just commend decency to do that in your own home. Don’t bring that into a public place where kids could walk up behind you and perhaps get traumatized depending on what you’re watching.

  3. Spencer says:

    We ban and filter. There is no real defensible reason why. If you want to watch internet porn, you need to pay for it. If you want to look at porn, you need to pay for it. If you want to read porn, we have it all interfiled in the adult fiction section.

    • Spencer says:

      why NOT. no reason why you would NOT filter.

    • I guess a good defense on having a filter is that many of those sites have viruses. Block them and you’ll have less chances of viruses!

    • Cut Both Ways says:

      “If you want to watch internet porn, you need to pay for it. If you want to look at porn, you need to pay for it.”

      I think you will find that the porn problem in libraries is precisely a matter of how easy it is to access internet porn WITHOUT paying for it.

  4. against the grain says:

    Minneapolis, now Hennepin County Library, lost a lawsuit filed by Librarians about just this subject. That’s right, the system had to be sued by their own librarians before they put up filters. There is no right to view porn. The suit by the way had to deal with librarians being expected to aid patrons in the printing of said pornography. A harmful work environment was proven and the librarians got a bit of cash to help sooth their pain

  5. AL said, “one sure to annoy the ALA.” That’s for sure.

    Barbara Jones has even come out of retirement to yet again flat out lie about Internet filters and about the law that allows public libraries to filter out Internet pron WITHOUT violating the First Amendment, even if it does not fall within child pron, obscenity, nor harmful to minors categories (per US v ALA, SCOTUS 2003).

    And she goes on again with the same breastfeeding lie that I busted her on when she lied about it in Huffington Post, then a whopping one week later was forced to reverse her position when on an NPR affiliate — and she blamed librarians for filters not working correctly! See link under my name.

    Oh, and she’s writing a book on how filters are discriminatory. That’s going to be good given her long term and flat out lies about the law and the facts.

    Here’s where she has come out swinging against any librarian who dares think they can follow Anchorage Public Library’s example, and notice a few librarians are brave enough not to fall for her bull:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/ALAthinkTANK/permalink/1582179891854825/

    Note: I cannot comment on the Facebook group called ALA Think Tank where ALA OIF came out swinging since the group admins banned me within seconds of admitting me without my ever writing a jot nor a tittle. So much for free speech.

    Regarding “against the grain” comment, that is correct. And notice 1) ALA OIF is still scaring librarians about being sued if they block pron, something that has never happened, yet there’s Jamie LaRue saying it in that Facebook post I linked, “Barbara M. Jones is right: when people blithely ignore the letter of the law, they leave themselves open for lawsuits they are likely to lose.” 2) The reality is libraries are sued for NOT blocking pron by s3xually harassed librarians, as “against the grain” illustrates. 3) ALA OIF has said s3xual harassment of librarians never happened and never will, and the cases that did proceed merely settled. Deborah Caldwell-Stone said this in the Orland Park Public Library and there is videotape and a transcript of her saying it. She says this to protect the OIF policy that is the very cause of the problem. No harassment? No problem. Yet Will Manley wrote in American Libraries in 1993 that his research reveals 78% of librarians have been s3xually harassed by patrons. ALA OIF says it never happened, never will.

    So absolutely ALA is annoyed, and the OIF leader and former OIF leader are trying their darndest not to let the Anchorage Public Library mindset get a foothold.

  6. Bobbi Perryman says:

    This is nothing new. Our library has banned porn since we got our first public-access computers twenty-five years ago. All the libraries in our area ban porn.

  7. TheSingleLibrarian says:

    This is not new to me. Our library has banned adult sites since we gained public access computers. Where we are going to disagree is the slippery slope theory. The wording of our statement is open ended to a certain degree and in the 5 years that I have been with this system, I have never had anyone complain about anything being viewed except porn. Here is the wording of our code of conduct on this; Sending, displaying, or printing obscene material is unacceptable behavior. If someone is caught viewing pornography in the library, we slip them a COC and ask them to stop. While the library should stand for free speech and for the rights of others to view what they choose.

    • spencer says:

      Why not just filter to prevent the viewing in the first place? It’s easy and modern filters are very effective.

  8. TheSingleLibrarian says:

    We do have some filters however, people figure out ways around them.

  9. Absolutely wonderful! One of my most traumatic memories of library school was being the only person in the entire class openly willing to filter porn at the library. Vituperative disagreement rained down on me, virtually every student had to shout me out. Maybe that makes me a square but people acted like I had advocated for book burning. Gosh, I did just not fit in there at all. I work at the Bay Area and it bothers me when I see some bizarre form of anal opening on the screens (common occurrence), I want to say something but I am not allowed, so of course I let it slide. When necessary, I block the view of children as they walk past. I am glad maybe someday we will find a world where information and obscenity can find a comfortable middle ground, I never would want a ban on porn in general but I think showing the horrors of the internet onto public viewing is truly a worse slippery slope than sensible, gentle blocking of notorious sites.

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