Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mom-and-Kids Visit to Seattle Branch Takes an Unexpected Turn

Mother challenges viewing of Internet porn at library; girl saw it. (Seattle Times, 1/31/2012)

Excerpt:    In recent days, Howe has gone public with her concerns, and, once again, the Seattle Public Library is explaining that it is not in the censorship business. 

The library does filter for content on computers in the children's section and says all monitors have privacy screens, says Andra Addison, spokeswoman for the library. But the screens still allow for "inadvertent viewing," she says. 

And, although the state Supreme Court says that libraries have discretion about which Internet content to allow, the Seattle Public Library "believes in the right of each individual to have access to constitutionally protected material." 

Addison says that the library is considering ways to deal with inadvertent viewing, such as that experienced by Howe and her daughters, by moving the popular DVD section elsewhere, for example.

Excerpts from letters to the editors.

(1)  Unless people like you speak up, we cede the public spaces and life of the city to the lowest common denominator. The library administration should “man up” to its responsibilities for providing a safe and acceptable public environment for all citizens.

(2)   I still feel sick to my stomach and sick at heart after reading Wednesday’s article by Erik Lacitis featuring the experience of the Seattle mom and her 10-year-old daughter who saw images of Internet porn being viewed at the Lakewood branch of the Seattle Public Library.

(3)   I’m all in favor of free speech, and I admire the Seattle Public Library’s commitment to the First Amendment. But surely we can all agree that there are sensible limits to expression that won’t endanger anyone’s fundamental rights.

(4)   Bars and strip clubs can’t be built within half a mile of a school or church, but an individual can watch porn publicly in a library?

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