Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

January 15
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.

Besides 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 is corrupting.

Second, 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 to information?

Third, 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.

Fourth, 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 materials.

And 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.

Now here is a very useful link to aid your own fight against these people:

***

Saints 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 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!

On to January 16
Back to January 14
Back to The Farm


Marilyn Jones 2000-2008