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When Did Access To Porn Become A God-Given Right?

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“Public libraries should provide free and open access to all information to anybody who comes in the door.”

Is porn, or the free access to porn a right of all American adults? Many of our nation's public libraries are acting that way.

Prompted by a story in the LA Times about the Los Angeles City Council debating on how to provide adequate access to hard-core porn for adults, while protecting children, on the nearly 3000 public computers in libraries, I began looking into the topic of 'Public Library Porn Access.' The findings are quite surprising.

A Supreme Court case from eight years ago offers some clarity on this continuing conundrum. As reported by the American Booksellers Association in 2003;

On Monday, June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6 - 3 to uphold the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires public libraries seeking government subsidies to install filtering software to block materials considered obscene, child pornography, or "harmful to minors." The American Library Association (ALA) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had challenged the law, contending that it violated the First Amendment.

The American Library Association was not pleased with this ruling and, citing First Amendment concerns, officially denounced it on their website. However, the law of the land stated that libraries taking government funding were required to filter internet content to protect children.

But the push for free public porn did not end there. There seem to be as many different opinions and regulations on this topic as their are libraries.

After being sued by the ACLU and losing in a lower court, libraries in Washington State won back the right to filter internet content when their State Supreme Court ruled against porn access in a 6-3 decision.  Their finding, posted online by seattlepi.com stated;

"A public library has traditionally and historically enjoyed broad discretion to select materials to add to its collection of printed materials for its patrons' use. We conclude that the same discretion must be afforded a public library to choose what materials from millions of Internet sites it will add to its collection and make available to its patrons," the opinion said. "A public library has never been required to include all constitutionally protected speech in its collection and has traditionally had the authority, for example, to legitimately decline to include adult-oriented material such as pornography in its collection. This same discretion continues to exist with respect to Internet materials."

Across the country in Florida, libraries in St. John's County have separate computers for adults and children. The adult computers have no filters, while those reserved for the kids are blocking access to sites determined to be 'objectionable.'

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, the Muskogee Phoenix reports that some of the libraries have decided that access shall not be denied, but 'privacy screens' will be employed to prevent anyone except the user from seeing the computer screen. One of the library's directors, Mary Moroney addressed complaints and concerns by saying;

“Public libraries should provide free and open access to all information to anybody who comes in the door.”

It is difficult to argue with the basic statement made by Ms. Moroney, I just wonder when porn became classified as 'information.\

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