Farm - The Saint Report
Free Speech and Access to Information
(Written years ago about Kitsap County in Washington State) There's
a vocal minority around here that is trying to force the public library
system to put filtering software on all the library's public computer
terminals. This group has been able to remove the book Snow Falling
on Cedars from a required reading list at the high school and, emboldened
by this victory, is now branching out. Tonight is another meeting with
the Library Board and here is the letter I will be presenting:
I am in favor of our Kitsap County libraries having unrestricted
computer access available for the public. I firmly believe that
this access to information is guaranteed by the First Amendment
to our Constitution. I believe that these unfiltered computers
should be available for anyone who wishes to use them, regardless
of the age of the individual since even young people have First
Amendment guarantees. The current policy of having some filtered
computers available in each branch is sufficient to safeguard
the rights of the individuals who don't wish to have full access
to the information available in this way.
the First Amendment issue, there are other concerns regarding
this sort of censorship that I would like to address:
First, it seems that most of the sites those who favor censorship
would filter out have to do with sexuality. Many young people
have valid and serious concerns regarding their sexuality and
these concerns need to be addressed openly in order to give them
peace of mind and the information that will keep them healthy
and safe. Access to information on sexual topics is not as dangerous
as ignorance and it is naive and unsupportable to say that information
librarians should not be put in the position of censor. It is
not their job to say if information is age-appropriate or not
any more than it is the bookstore clerk's responsibility to make
sure minors buy only certain literature. If there is censoring
to be done, let the parents censor their children's reading and
internet access, as well as their own, and leave the rest of us
to decide about that to which we wish to be exposed. Why should
the librarians -- people who firmly believe that the harm lies
in ignorance rather than knowledge -- be forced to do what is
anathema to them: guaranteeing that individuals do NOT have access
censoring library computers is discriminatory in that library
computers are used primarily by those who do not have access to
the internet at home. This will only serve to increase the "digital
divide" that is threatening our society.
if a very vocal minority is allowed to censor what a library can
offer on computer monitors, do you really believe that the attempt
to control information flow will stop there? Isn't it more reasonable
to assume that a win in this would be followed by attempts to
remove other library materials that these individuals find offensive?
And remember...again, it is only the relatively less well off
in the county who would be affected by censorship of other library
finally, the timing of this particular assault on the First Amendment
is ironic in that we are at this moment sending young Americans
to war to fight a government that believes in repression and censorship
on religious grounds. I am sure that the very same Internet sites
that are of concern to those who are so vehemently opposed to
unfiltered library computers would likewise offend the Taliban.
Please consider my concerns when making your decision.
here is a very useful link to aid your own fight against these people:
celebrating feast days today include Saint Paul the First Hermit, Saint
Maur, Saint Macarius the Elder, Saint Isidore of Alexandria, Saint John
Calybites, Saint Ita, Saint Bonet (or Saint Bonitus), and Saint Ceowulf.
Margaret O'Brien turns 71 today.
Coochee! It's Charo's birthday (1941, 1942, or 1952). I do believe that I saw her on Merv Griffin when I was about 18 and she was married at the time to Xavier Cugat. That would mean that she would have been only about 13 if she were born in 1952. I suppose she could have been 18, but I doubt it. I'm going to go with the 1941 date. That sounds catty--I LIKE Charo and I always have. She seems to have been born with talent, ambition, focus and energy and has maximized all of it. Wish I could say half as much for myself!
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