We spend a lot of time at our local library. My 2-year-old daughter is a ravenous reader (or, rather, she’s ravenous at the idea of having other people read to her) and enjoys changing up her material once or twice a week to supplement our permanent book collection at home. However, I’m not sure how much we’d frequent the library if we found other people surfing for porn online while we’re also paying a visit.
That’s why it’s a good thing we don’t live in New York City, where patrons at the 200-plus library branches are permitted to watch whatever they want on computers. A NYC library spokesperson says viewing electronic smut is covered by free speech and the protection of the First Amendment.
I’m all for the First Amendment (I guess), but I’m so not into my kid browsing the Curious George books and stumbling upon someone browsing something far more curious than the cheeky monkey’s latest escapade.
By law, libraries that receive federal funding must equip their computers only with filters on publicly used computers to block content that contains illegal obscenity and child pornography. New York City library officials say they are in exact compliance. Libraries may restrict further viewing by enacting individual policies addressing porn, although experts say that could involve some legal challenges.
However, anyone 17 or older can turn off the filters and search online for whatever they choose.
“What they’re doing is publicly funding an appetite for the most debased fare available,” said Catholic League Bill Donohue to the New York Post. “It’s not like a Playboy centerfold anymore — it’s far worse.”
“The library cannot and does not guarantee that the filtering software will block all obscenity, child pornography or materials that are harmful to minors,” the policy says.
That may be all well and good, and hooray for the Constitution, but when my toddler stumbles across some creepy person catching the latest Jenna Jameson flick as we go to check out Corduroy or The Trumpet of the Swan is the day when we join Amazon Prime and start a book buying savings fund.
Do you think people should be allowed to watch porn in public libraries?
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Learn how to keep your kids safe online in 3 Most Common Mistakes: The Internet