PORN IN LIBRARIES OK FOR NOW

Sacramento Officials Refuse to Ban Online Porn in Libraries

 
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Officials who oversee the Sacramento public library system rejected pleas from parents and students late last week to prohibit the viewing of online pornography in libraries.

At a public hearing late Thursday, parents and students pled with the Sacramento Public Library Authority Board (SPLA Board) to protect kids from the dangers of allowing pedophiles and other sex addicts to view online porn in libraries. One student related a personal experience of trying to conduct research while sitting next to someone viewing online porn. A number of library systems in California and throughout the nation prohibit the viewing of online porn in their facilities. However, Sacramento libraries allow adults to request that filtering software be turned off for any reason, including the viewing of porn. As a result, librarians note that libraries’ free Internet access is being increasingly used to access pornography, even with children nearby.

Pacific Justice Institute urged the SPLA Board to heed the parents’ and students’ pleas. PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds wrote to the Board and spoke at the public hearing, explaining that recent Supreme Court precedent clearly allows public libraries to ban porn. Attorney McReynolds also cited recent investigative reports in Chicago, which have revealed a high incidence of sex crimes taking place in libraries which refuse to ban online porn. On the flip side, the Board also heard from a local constitutional law professor and a lawyer claiming affiliation with the ACLU, both of whom argued generally that the First Amendment protects porn but did not explain why it must be taxpayer subsidized.

In the end, a majority of the SPLA Board voted to continue allowing library patrons to view online porn. The SPLA Board is comprised of the five Sacramento County Supervisors and four members of the Sacramento City Council, some of whom designate alternates to attend the meetings. Only three Board members–Supervisor Don Nottoli; Ted Wolter, alternate for Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan; and Lisa Schmidt, alternate for Supervisor Susan Peters, sided with the families at the public hearing by supporting a ban on porn.

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