Libraries are for Porn?

Come on, Anne, lighten up!
Since we’re still in Banned Books Week, I’m going to continue to gripe about censorship.  I won’t expand on book censorship.  Well, maybe just a little.  Here’s a list from the ALA website of some of the most ridiculous reasons given for banning books.
    1. “Encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” ( A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstien)
    2. “It caused a wave of rapes.” ( Arabian Nights, or Thousand and One Nights, anonymous)
    3. “If there is a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?” ( Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown)
    4. “Tarzan was ‘living in sin’ with Jane.” ( Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs)
    5. “It is a real ‘downer.’” ( Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank)
    6. “The basket carried by Little Red Riding Hood contained a bottle of wine, which condones the use of alcohol.” ( Little Red Riding Hood, by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm K. Grimm)
    7. “One bunny is white and the other is black and this ‘brainwashes’ readers into accepting miscegenation.” ( The Rabbit’s Wedding, by Garth Williams)
    8. “A female dog is called a bitch.” ( My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara)
    9. “An unofficial version of the story of Noah’s Ark will confuse children.” ( Many Waters, by Madeleine C. L’Engle)

If you think no one would really suggest banning a book for such a stupid reason, you clearly have too much faith in the human race.

 

Demon Worship 101 is HARD

 

But as I said, there’s more to censorship in libraries than just books.  Now libraries, in keeping with the times, have computers with Internet access.  For those on the quest for naughty stuff – to protect others from, of course – the Internet is a real treasure trove of opportunity.  It’s also a heck of a lot faster than trying to go through line after line of Harry Potter looking for the part where Harry, Ron, and Hermione perform that Satanic devil worshipping ritual for a school project.  Those little scamps!

 

 

But back to the Internet.  Many people are  understandably concerned about what their children might find on an average Internet search.  I mean, it should be safe to look up, say, bears (don’t).  Or possibly kittens (again, don’t).  Or maybe plushies (for the love of God, do not do this.)  Since even these seemingly innocent words could lead to all sorts of nightmares for years to come, clearly someone needs to sanitize this Internet thing.  But what can we do?  Maybe some sort of a filter, that lets only the pure and wholesome stuff out, but keeps the bad stuff in – you know, like bloodletting in the Middle Ages.

 

THAT’s the White House???

As it turns out, filtering is just as effective as bleeding out the “bad” blood in medieval patients.  Sure, kids are protected from seeing a woman’s bare breasts.  They are also prevented from seeing information on breast cancer, breast feeding, the breast stroke, and chicken breasts.  Yes, you can change up programs to specifically allow these terms, but after a while, this becomes a full time job.  People on the Internet may be scummy, but they’re clever.  A good way to get more traffic to their sites is to name it something totally innocuous, like say the White House (well, okay, maybe not totally innocuous).  Be sure to look up whitehouse.gov, or else you are NOT going to see the Oval Office.  At least not the one you’d like to see.

Not only are there problems with specifically keeping children from seeing the wrong thing (if you think using teddy bears as search query instead of just bears is gonna solve things, think again), these filters are usually set up on all library computers.  That means that adults must also be filtered from looking at information that, as adults, they ought to be able to access.  No, they shouldn’t be looking at porn in a public place, but there are plenty of things that are not obscene that they could be blocked from.  Taking the filters off for certain people doesn’t solve anything, because if you are researching, you don’t know what’s out there.  Therefore, you don’t know if you need the filter removed or not.  And if you do ask for it to be removed, will people assume you’re a pervert?  Many patrons would probably prefer not to take that chance.

Why would librarians use filters?  Many are forced to, thanks to CIPA, the Child Internet Protection Act, designed by our government with the best of intentions (which if you remember paves the road to hell).  If they want government funds to help pay for a computer lab, and many poorer libraries have no other way to fund one, then they have to agree to filter.  So then even those who would not want to use them otherwise are faced with a difficult choice – deny their patrons or deny their patron’s first amendment rights?  Not an easy choice.

 

This child has been online a bit too long . . .

What’s the answer?  I think it’s rather obvious myself.  Libraries do not act in loco parentis (in place of parents).  Parents should monitor their children’s Internet use, in my opinion, just as they should monitor what their children read.  They have every right to keep their children from certain books or websites, but they do NOT have the right to keep MY children or me from these same books and websites.  We all want to protect our kids, but this should not come at the expense of the rights of others.  It is, ultimately, our responsibility to parent our own kids in the best way we know how.  If filtering your computer is your choice, that’s fine.  But just remember – our kids have grown up with computers.  So filtering, in many cases, is about as effective on kids as your average child proof container.  I wish everyone good luck.

And hey – didn’t I WARN you not to look those words up?

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6 responses

  1. Man I cannot agree more. I can’t say I have experience with libraries’ childrens lists and internet access – but I feel like this is a problem rife throughout the entire community. Everything seems to be “re-imagined” to suit a public terrified of little Timmy getting a paper cut or seeing a dead bird. Maybe my childhood was slightly dangerous/perverse – but I learned damn quick too! Do these kids nowadays have ANY idea how the real world works outside of their bubbles?

    1. Not for a while. But eventually someone’s gonna pop the bubble.

  2. It seems difficult to find a word so innocent that porn can’t be associated with it. Happily I am inept at computers so keep my embarrassment to a minimum. I like your words, write more! Please.

    1. Some would say not to encourage me, lol. Thanks. It is amazing what the Internet has done to words like “kitten” etc. Oh, my.

  3. Dear Friends,

    As a lifelong lover of books, but also truth, I was a bit perplexed to find my name on your “ridiculous” list. At least it was only the eighth most silly thing you listed. I guess there is some comfort to be taken in that! In actuality, I agree that the statement made as #8 on your list deserves to be there. It is really quite foolish to say that public funds funds should not be used to purchase religious books. The only problem is that I never said that. It is not to be found in anything that I ever wrote, nor do I believe it. It would be an interesting research project to find out where it came from, but that would be your job, not mine, since you wrote it. WRITING 101 tells us “Check your sources”.

    Please let me know when you find out where it came from.

    All Good Wishes,

    Walter Elwell

    1. Walter,

      Thanks for the tip on WRITING 101. Now here are some tips on READING COMPREHENSION. If you will notice, I have the title and author of the book in ellipses, not the name of the person quoted. So that means that someone else said your book should not have been in the library for said reason. If you take a look, you’ll see that it would have been difficult for Anne Frank to gripe about her own book as she has been dead for quite some time. Now I don’t know who the person quoted was – the website doesn’t state names. It could have been an administrator or a teacher or parent or someone off the street. A lot of people want to ban things for stupid reasons.

      I clearly pointed out my source as the American Library Association. If you will look above the list you will see the link to the their website. I checked the link and now the page of quotes has been removed or relocated because this post is actually three years old and the internet changes rapidly. I will still remove the quote about your book as this seems to distress you.

      Alice

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