"Ms. Jones is a columnist and mother of two. Her main focus is on political commentary that 'bucks the trend of touchy-feely emotionalism' and blinkered liberal thinking."
When It's Right
by R. Jones
So just why is it censorship when a public library-- a library that is funded by our taxes, I might add -- chooses to prevent kids from gaining access to dangerous material?
If you listen to the American Library Association , you'll believe it is the act of a freedom fighter to place a copy of "Debbie Does Dallas" in the hands of a toddler. Hyperbole? You decide:
From http://www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/free_min.html, An Interpretation of the "Library Bill of Rights":
The selection and development of library resources should not be diluted because of minors having the same access to library resources as adult users. Institutional self-censorship diminishes the credibility of the library in the community, and restricts access for all library users.
Librarians and governing bodies should not resort to age restrictions on access to library resources in an effort to avoid actual or anticipated objections from parents or anyone else.
I'm not sure what other interpretation to take from the above quote, nor from the rest of the article at the referenced site. Is it so much of a slippery slope argument to suggest that if it does not diminish the credibility of the library in the community to refuse to stock and provide access to copies of such works as "The Anarchist's Cookbook", for example, then it is likewise not a diminishment to refuse to stock and provide access to on-line rape-fantasy videos? Regardless of the extremeness of the foregoing argument, I am uncertain how it is censorship if the parents of the community -- not the government, but the parents -- insist that the library refuse to provide access to certain materials they, the parents, feel are inappropriate for their children. It is not censorship if the library complies with the wishes of the people, surely.
The ALA's own statement, "Surveys have shown that public libraries are one of the primary sources of Internet access outside the home," suggests to us that if children have unsupervised, unrestricted access to the Internet, the likelihood that whey will encounter stories and pictures of violent, graphic and prurient nature is high.
A sensible stance
The counterpoint to the ALA's point is provided in the grassroots Organization, Family Friendly Libraries. The group is made up of parents, and, more interestingly, librarians and library trustees who believe that opening up communication between libraries and the communities they serve is of paramount importance. They further believe that too many libraries are breaking down those channels of communication as these libraries place far too much emphasis on the ALA's harridan screeches and far too little emphasis on community standards.
Family Friendly Libraries (FFL) states right up front that they do not encourage censorship, they encourage sponsorship. Their mission statement echoes the belief that a tax-funded entity exists as a part of the representative government that makes our nation great. As such, it has the responsibility to respond to the people's needs. Since it is a local entity, the scope of its responsibility includes the standards of that community -- not the larger nation, and not the ALA.
Why, then, does the ALA's stance become coercion? The ALA has overstepped its boundaries, say the librarians and trustees of the FFL, in dictating to local libraries, rather than serving in an advisory capacity.
Parental rights are paramount
Parental rights are what FFL is all about, and that's just it. That's what leftist organizations such as the ALA will never get. In their zeal to promote the State's supremacy over the family, they subvert the First Amendment. This is standard operating procedure. They use the First Amendment to prevent religious freedom, while claiming to be promoting religious freedom, so why not use it to curtail parental rights in the faux name of "censorship?"
It suddenly becomes censorship to respond to a parent's desire that their five year old not have access to pop-up porn adds featuring child-rape. I don't care how attentive a parent is -- the parent could be standing right beside the child while the child surfs the Internet on the library computer - it makes no difference when the child has a typo in the URL that takes him to a site that presents pop-up after pop-up, and there's no way to stop them. Or, the child innocently searches for a school paper about volcanoes and , instead, accesses a gay pornography site. No amount of parental supervision suffices, and yet, again according to the ALA, "public libraries are one of the primary sources of Internet access outside the home." Parents who cannot afford computers or Internet access are the ones who rely on the library to help them with their children's school needs. If they don't have the option to provide nannyware on the computers their children have no choice but to use, then I ask you: Exactly how is the Library serving the needs of the community?
If the government cannot be responsive to the people, then it's time for the people to throw off the government. And perhaps that's it. Perhaps it is time to lobby to stop federal funding of libraries. As Pope John Paul II reminds us, "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought." Until they are ready to absorb and understand what they see, protecting children from things that may harm them is what we ought to do.
Is it a restriction of freedom when the government says that a 4 year old may not pilot an automobile? Is it a restriction when they say a 12 year old may not perform open-heart surgery? Is it censorship to fine a person who maliciously shouts "fire" in a crowded theatre? So just why is library sensitivity to the community "censorship"?
© 2002 Tocqevillian Magazine