Golden Wants Porn Out Of Our Libraries

Some might consider this porn. Well, I wouldn't. But someone could, right? (Source: City Hall News)

State Senator Marty Golden doesn’t want you killing kittens with taxpayer dollars. Or making angels weep. And he certainly doesn’t want you going blind.

That’s why Golden is calling on the Brooklyn, Queens and New York Public Library systems to establish stronger policies to halt access to pornographic websites on public computers in library branches throughout the city.

“Allowing anyone to view pornographic materials on a public computer in one of our library branches here in Brooklyn, or anywhere else in New York City, is appalling,” Golden said in statement issued today. “Libraries are for the community to enrich their educational pursuits, not be a place to go so to download pornography. ”

The state senator issued his statement in response to the New York Post’s “discovery” that pornography is freely accessible in publicly-funded libraries throughout the city’s 200-plus library branches. Currently, federal law mandates that filters be installed on publicly used computers to block content containing illegal obscenity and child pornography. But any legal pornography remains protected by the First Amendment, and the city has thus far deemed access acceptable, siding with civil libertarians who have long argued that it’s not the government’s duty to determine what materials patrons find socially valuable or educational.

“In deference to the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, the New York Public Library cannot prevent adult patrons from accessing adult content that is legal,” New York Public Library spokeswoman Angela Montefinise told the Post.

Marty Golden doesn’t care much for a little librarian kink, though. He says that allowing people to use the library for “deviant and lewd actions” flies in the face of “years of initiatives aimed at protecting children and the public at large from being exposed to indecent, degrading and offensive pornographic material.”

Stronger filtering programs and monitoring are the solution, said Golden, though licenses for those program could cost the cash-strapped library systems thousands and open the door to even more costly legal battles.

Of course, it’s hardly a new issue. The topic last surfaced on a broad scale when Congress passed the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) back in 2004, which laid out the requirements for blocking obscenity and child pornography. The city complied with the letter of the law with a fairly clumsy filter that raised eyebrows. And in 2005, the New York Times’ Ethicist squared off with a reader outraged at the library’s loose morals. But he defended the institution for not stepping foot onto the slippery slope:

Libraries should provide for the free exchange of ideas — not just ideas you or I find palatable, not just ideas suitable for 5-year-olds. And librarians should not be forced to censor patrons’ reading, let alone eject them for looking at disturbing images.

Golden admits it’s just a “small minority” of patrons taking advantage of the system’s open regulations. Still, those sleuths at the New York Post – a publication, we’re sure, that would never do anything even slightly offensive – managed to hunt a “dirty old man” down at the Brooklyn Central Library. The man was watching a “threesome” porn video, with screen extensions that blocked other viewers for enjoying the show. When the reporter approached, the patron asked to be left alone, which we’re sure left many onlookers wondering why a reporter was talking to himself.

Our take? We’re all for a ban on pornography in the library. It’s about time we got the Twilight series off the shelves.

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