|Come on, Anne, lighten up!|
- “Encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” ( A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstien)
- “It caused a wave of rapes.” ( Arabian Nights, or Thousand and One Nights, anonymous)
- “If there is a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?” ( Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown)
- “Tarzan was ‘living in sin’ with Jane.” ( Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs)
- “It is a real ‘downer.’” ( Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank)
- “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)
- “One bunny is white and the other is black and this ‘brainwashes’ readers into accepting miscegenation.” ( The Rabbit’s Wedding, by Garth Williams)
- “A female dog is called a bitch.” ( My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara)
- “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 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?