Seattle Library Lets Man Watch Porn in View of Children

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Seattle Library Lets Man Watch Porn in View of Children
A Seattle librarian refused to force a man watching hardcore porn on a computer to move to a more discreet location, even after a woman with two children complained, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The Lake City librarian reportedly could see the screen, and sympathized with the woman's position, but maintained that the library "doesn't censor content" and could not "be in the business of monitoring what their patrons are doing at any given computer."

According to newspaper, the woman isn’t the first person to speak up. Several parents and teachers have complained about library patrons watching graphic pornography while children are present, the paper said.

"Now I don't let my kids wander the aisles at our branch," one mother told the newspaper.

This isn't the first time this issue of whether porn and other obscene materials should be allowed in public libraries has come up. In 1998, a U.S. District Court ruled that a Virginia county library could not force website-blocking software on their adult patrons.

In 2003, the Supreme Court weighed in on porn in public libraries, maintaining that public libraries that receive certain types of federal funding must install website filters. The decision supported the Children's Internet Protection Act, which passed in 2000 and called for libraries to block pornography to protect children.

Seattle Library Lets Man Watch Porn in View of Children
In 2010, the state Supreme Court of Washington ruled that public libraries, specifically the North Central Regional Library of Washington, which was being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, could filter Internet content to prevent its patrons from accessing pornography. According to the state court, 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," and therefore the "same discretion must be afforded a public library to choose what materials from millions of Internet sites it will add to its collection."

The ACLU is again challenging the North Central Regional Library about its Internet porn filter. According to the ACLU, the library has an overly broad filtering policy that hampers adults' "researching school assignments, locating businesses and organizations, and doing personal reading on lawful subjects."

"We are a publicly funded institution. Our mission is to promote reading and lifelong learning," Dean Marney, the regional library’s director, wrote on the its website.

"It is crazy to think that we should be required to use tax dollars to allow open access to internet pornography or to become illegal casinos. Removing the filter is unfair to the people who support our community libraries, jeopardizes the safety of kids, and creates a hostile environment for our patrons and employees."

The Seattle Public Library is upholding its decision to not censor anything (except, as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer points out, sleeping, eating, not wearing shoes, and talking loudly). And the discussion over there is pretty intense. What do you think? Porn in public libraries, or should you keep that within the privacy of your own home?

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