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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  October 1996, Week 4

COMMUNET October 1996, Week 4

Subject:

Porno & Civil Liberties

From:

Michael Schuyler <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 23 Oct 1996 16:59:17 -0700 (PDT)

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (102 lines)

There have been a couple of posts today concerning  community standards vs
civil liberties. In some sense, those of us interested in community
networking are, statistically speaking, likely to weigh in on the liberal
side as opposed to the Net nanny side. I KNOW this is a simplification,
but if you'll accept this for the sake of the argument, well, we can move
on...

I've grown to expect that when I express a concern we have about porn
and moving to a GUI interface, that a certain percentage of the readers
will immediately jump on the opinion bandwagon and tout a point of view.
Some are better expressed than others, but basically they say the same
thing: the bad guys are trying to infringe my freedom and I say don't let
them do it! Quotes from the Constitution alaways bolster the argument. 

Now consider this scenario. A parent takes his six-year old daughter to
the public library in search of, well "wholesome" books, walks past the
now almost obligatory Web terminal, tucked on the side of the room, but
nevertheless not made invisible, sporting a large, erect, wet, penis with
a large brass ring pierced through the end, complete with a naked woman
just about to lick this monument to posterity, this entire scenario left
in open view by a snickering teen, now nowhere to be found. See the
Piercings page, available within 30 seconds on any search engine. 

Now: Calm the rage. And if you have NOT been in this scenario. If you have
NOT encountered this sort of problem, then I would submit you are speaking
from a theoretical point of view, much like an armchair anthropologist who
has never been in the field, or a sports commentator who can't play the
game, but readily criticizes those who do. And if you take this attitude,
what you WILL guarantee is pickets around the library denouncing your name
as a child molester and fiery speeches from the pulpit suggesting we rid
ourselves of this cancer. 

What we don't need is another Proclamation of the Purity of the Faith. It
does nothing to solve the problem. It inflames passions. It is not
helpful. That's why when someone from New York (OK I'm PICKING on them,
but it's just that I like that 'get a rope ad' Nothing personal. :-)
Spokane is east to me.) tells me what I'm supposed to do, I'm not going to
pay much attention. They're not here. They don't pay the bills. They're
irrelevant. Sorry. 

What we need are discussions that can help us develop the skills of
reaching consensus in our local communities. That means, to my mind, not
posturing as extremists, but as moderates seeking solutions and who
understand the father and his daughter above and seek solutions that are
palatable as well as educational for all concerned. And, our solutions
don't need to be YOUR solutions. 

I'll give an example that happened to us this week. A month or so ago one
of the local county council wound up getting caught for visiting porn
sites while 'on duty' Somebody had a print-out of his hundreds of visits.
The paper had a great expose on it all, lurid journalism and all that.
That's the background. 

My wife, also a librarian, was asked to participate on a Children's
Council set up by county government to investigate what could be done
about "media" We were called with the basic accusation that we at the
public library check out X-rated videos to minors, don't we? She finessed
her way on as a participant to this council rather than in the pillory,
and when the meeting started, one of the first to speak was a reverend who
announced that now that porn was available through the library's LinkNet
system something had to be done to stop it. (bear in mind we are
character-based currently, using Lynx)

Carol responded and asked if encyclopedias, full-text magazine articles,
health information, government, civic, and community information, etc.,
were not worthwhile for the community to access. She also said that if
this group was headed toward attempting to censor what children had
available, that the public library, still a respected institution in this
town, was out of there because such a notion was so basically antagonistic
to the principles of open access. 

Next the county prosecutor said HE was out of there, then the lady from
the YWCA. And by the time this meeting ended the whole focus of this
Council had turned from an inquisition to a group of people wanting to
explore ways to to increase 'media literacy' for parents and children. 

Going into this thing the library was being set up to be a target. But
going out of it, the library was a participant, along with several other
level-headed people, all concerned about the future. Everyone was better
educated. It turned into a win for us, at least so far. 

OK, I'm biased. I couldn't have done this. Carol could charm anybody. But
the point is that had we gone in there 'claiming our rights' and quoting
the Constitution, we'd have pickets and that same reporter camped outside
today. 

So what I hope from this forum is constructive, thoughful discourse on
dealing with local community who don't always agree with you, but with
whom you must live to survive. 


      o o o o o o o . . .   _~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~\_ _/~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~\_
    o      _____            |   Kitsap Regional    | |   LinkNet Support  |
  .][__n_n_|DD[  ====_____  |      Library         | |   'least we try!   |
 >(________|__|_[_________]_|______________________|_|____________________|_
 _/oo OOOOO oo`  ooo   ooo  'o^o^o            o^o^o` 'o^o              o^o`
============================================================================
Support: (360) 405-9131 Fax:(360) 405-9128 [log in to unmask]
Michael Schuyler:     Voice:(360) 405-9139 [log in to unmask]


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