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Pending USSC Case: United States v. American Library Assoc.

 
 
fishin
 
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 11:44 am
Case: United States v. American Library Association, 02-361

The USSC has recently agreed to hear arguments in this case. This is another case concerning the use of public computers for Internet access from libraries, specifically, the case concerns the loss of Federal funding for libraries that refuse to install/run some type of pornography filtering software to prevent children from viewing said material as was mandated under the provisions of the Children's Internet Protection Act. Several groups (and a prior Appeals Court ruling) have said that beciuse these software filters also filter out non-pornographic sites they amount to an infringement of 1st Amendment rights.

An article on the case can be found at:
http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/11/12/online.porn.ap/index.html

(I'll add more links as I find them)

What are your views on this case? How do you think the court will rule?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 12:17 pm
When i was a child, Mitchner's Hawaii was considered THE book to read--we were really too young to know why, but it was considered a problem by librarians, because parents wanted to read the book, but didn't want the children to do so.

The present approach is rather like having removed all fiction written after 1900 to assure that no child would be exposed to "salacious" material such as was alleged to be contained in Hawaii (i'll be damned if i could ever find any really good passages in that book--never have figured out what the hooplah was).

This also reminds me of Tipper Gore (whom i do not despise or belittle) and her battle against "objectionable" lyrics in popular music. The ultimate answer is parental participation. While under the age of 12, i never watched a minute of television without supervision, and usually with adults in the room watching the same programs. I could go to the library and browse, but if i returned home with books, i had to present them for inspection. Returning with no books would have resulted in a call to the librarian to know if i had checked out any books. My grandparents were not prudes, nor were they irresponsible about what we read and saw.

There is something very wrong with the notion that books, music, television, films--any form of public expression--ought to be regulated to assure that a parent or guardian doesn't have to get off a dead, fat-ass to actually participate in the child's experience of the world. Dog help us all.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 12:51 pm
Setanta wrote:
There is something very wrong with the notion that books, music, television, films--any form of public expression--ought to be regulated to assure that a parent or guardian doesn't have to get off a dead, fat-ass to actually participate in the child's experience of the world. Dog help us all.


Agreed! This is, in a nutshell, the entire problem from my view.We (as a society) create a lot of laws so that either we don't have to do something ourselves or because others won't do it themselves.

Unfortunately, the Courts aren't allowed to rule that parents have to get off their asses and act like parents. They can only rule on the Constitutionality of the created law in question.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 12:52 pm
Where are all the damned benevolent dictators when you REALLY need 'em . . .
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 01:11 pm
Problem #1.

If the authorities decides what you can see and what you can't see, it's called censorship.

Problem # 2.

If a decision is made to excert censorship, then the criteria have to be made public. Or at least there have to be some criteria. Firewalls rely on keywords, and are always stupid: you can't read e.e. cummings, but you can access a porno site with a soft name.

Problem # 3.

I agree with both fishin' and setanta. The State is the worst nanny you can find when you give up your social responsabilities.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 01:12 pm
Not to mention being a lousy cook . . .
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 01:26 pm
fbaezer wrote:
Problem #1.

If the authorities decides what you can see and what you can't see, it's called censorship.

Problem # 2.

If a decision is made to excert censorship, then the criteria have to be made public. Or at least there have to be some criteria. Firewalls rely on keywords, and are always stupid: you can't read e.e. cummings, but you can access a porno site with a soft name.

Problem # 3.

I agree with both fishin' and setanta. The State is the worst nanny you can find when you give up your social responsabilities.


On Problem #1 - Aren't the librarians doing that now? They would be the exact same "authorities" here. My local librarian refuses to get XXX rated movies for me. Am I being censored?

On Problem #2 - Agreed. But there is nothing in the law that limits how librarians configure the software. They can add or remove words as they choose to. If a customer has a problem they can request the librarian unblock a URL/Site. The librarians are resisting this with the old stand-by "It's not my job!" which is always a lousy excuse.

No where in the law does it say what software has to be used or how. That is entirely at the discression of the librarian. They could, in theory at least, empty the entire "flitered word" list just as Craven has done with this site. The law only mandates that the software be there and running for the library to continue to get federal dollars. Both Netscape's and Microsoft's proxy server meet the legal requirements of the law and both come with the "filtered words' lists that are empty.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 02:31 pm
On Problem #1, I'd say that the library has the right to buy or not to buy books and films. There are certain criteria for their classification, in order to let them to minors. The library has no right to deny you, as an adult, any book or film it has. If it does, then it's censorship.
Same goes with the Internet, where access can be virtually unlimited. If you are being treated as a minor (the librarian being the parent), and denied of your right to see whatever you like, then you are being censored.
I agree that it's sad that taxpayers money can be used to surf porno or otherwise useless sites, but that should be only part of the price for freedom.
Besides, taxpayers money is used in so many more useless things and there's hardly a word of comment.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 02:33 pm
On problem # 2, I totally agree with you. Any firewalling is worthless. Discressionality is the thing good laws are made against.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 02:49 pm
fbaezer wrote:
On Problem #1, I'd say that the library has the right to buy or not to buy books and films. There are certain criteria for their classification, in order to let them to minors. The library has no right to deny you, as an adult, any book or film it has. If it does, then it's censorship.
Same goes with the Internet, where access can be virtually unlimited. If you are being treated as a minor (the librarian being the parent), and denied of your right to see whatever you like, then you are being censored.
I agree that it's sad that taxpayers money can be used to surf porno or otherwise useless sites, but that should be only part of the price for freedom.
Besides, taxpayers money is used in so many more useless things and there's hardly a word of comment.


And this is exactly why I think this suit will fail. The Federal Tax dollars are no different than any budget allotted to the library. The librarian is given the authority and latitude to make a decision which materials to buy in printed form and the federal government has just as much authority to decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. The government is restrained from interfering with the freedom of speech but isn't required to fund speech either. I think the dividing line in the final court decision will be based on the premise that what is being controlled is money, not speech.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 04:26 pm
Good point, Boss, it's actually a religious issue--Wilt thou abase thyself before the Almighty Dollar, or wilt thou not . . .
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Nov, 2002 04:27 pm
I want to come back to this (particularly since my Mom's a librarian). Hmm.
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OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Dec, 2002 08:12 pm
The First Amendment has no age numbers on it, to say nothing of the fact that the 14th Amendment requires = protection of the laws;
they don't say this starts at any particular age.

The 1Oth Amendment disables the federal government
from exercising any authority that it was not granted.
It was never granted power to control what people of any age think about nor believe, nor draw, nor look at, nor discuss.
All citizens of all ages are rightfully free to enjoy their rights n immunities under the Constitution, unless the Constitution says otherwise (e.g.: voting).

A court that tolerates discrimination against citizens of any age in violation of their constitutional rights, abuses its judicial power.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Dec, 2002 08:53 pm
i never want any form of government to tell me or anyone else what may or not be read seen or listened too.
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rhymer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2003 02:47 pm
protection = security
Some people are vulnerable.
They are more likely to be influenced by external sources than by internal thoughts or desires.
I think of some children and I think of 'religious' terrorists.
Their sources of information are reading, seeing and listening.
The internet is just a new source of information.

If censorship is not applied to all sources used by those seeking to influence vulnerable people, then those who abhor it must accept the consequences - child pornography and terrorism.

I am prepared to forgo some freedom for increased security.

I believe we should be prepared to be shown just what information is available and directed at these vulnerable people before we are allowed to choose that it remain uncensored.
Best regards, Bill.
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