Should Libraries Let People Look At Porn In The Open?

There is much discussion in the Seattle area today after a mom claims that while on a visit to her local library with her two young daughters, she spied a man viewing hardcore porn on a computer with a screen that was facing out to the rest of the library. And when she complained about it to the staff, she says her concerns were shrugged off.

From the letter sent to area bloggers by the mom:

I noticed that a man was watching hard core pornography (including anal penetration & other adult content) on a computer where the screen was facing out into the library. I told the librarian and asked for help in having him move to a more discreet location. She could see the screen from the information desk where we were standing and was sympathetic, but said that the library doesn’t censor content and they can’t be in the business of monitoring what their patrons are doing at any given computer. I then asked the man to please move to another computer. He declined. In the process of this interaction, I didn’t notice that my daughters had wandered over looking for me and one of them saw what was playing on the screen.

The mom says she’s all for the man’s right to look at whatever he wants to but feels there should be some consideration to “our right not to be inadvertent viewers.”

A rep for the Seattle Public Libraries confirmed the institution’s stance on the topic.

“We’re a library, so we facilitate access to constitutionally protected information,” the rep explains to SeattlePI.com. “We don’t tell people what they can view and check out … Filters compromise freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. We’re not in the business of censoring information.”

The rep did say the library is working with the mom to figure out a possible solution — like reconfiguring certain sections of the building so that little children would not be inadvertently exposed to depictions of sodomy and other stuff they should learn about from magazines they swipe from their parents.


Seattle library lets man watch porn, despite complaint [SeattlePI.com]

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    She seemed to know a lot about what the guy was watching.

  2. Coffee says:

    How old are the kids? 7 and 10? Pfft…they’ve seen worse.

    Seriously, though, don’t be doing that shit where children can see it. That’s just dickish. Also, I understand the library’s policy, but isn’t part of watching hard core pornography touching yourself? I find it hard to believe that someone as inconsiderate as this creep doesn’t have his hand in his pocket. And that should be against library rules.

  3. rmorin says:

    He declined. In the process of this interaction, I didn’t notice that my daughters had wandered over looking for me and one of them saw what was playing on the screen.

    So because the mother was adressing the situation so that her children would not see the offending images, her children saw the offending images? Sounds odd.

  4. Cat says:

    I am conflicted.
    My love of constitutional rights is at odds with my sense of decency and common sense.

    • Promethean Sky says:

      That’s my response exactly. You can’t just say “censorship is bad except for when I say it’s good,” I think we’ve seen what that leads to.

    • bluline says:

      Agree. That’s why I voted for the “not openly but in certain sections of the library” option above. In no way do I want library staff (who are extensions of the government) deciding which sites or content are acceptable and which are not.

      • mszabo says:

        Would any place that is secluded enough to avoid wandering children’s eyes also be secluded enough that would leave a mess for the librarian to clean up? I certainly wouldn’t want to be touching that mouse/keyboard afterwards.

        I certainly don’t have anything against porn but in a public library just seems really odd. Then again going to a public library seems somewhat odd as well.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          a carrel desk, angled correctly, could block the screen from side and casual views, and if the monitor was facing a wall then fewer people would be looking directly at it. a carrel desk in this style
          http://bayneschool.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/smith_study_carrel.19120349_std.gif
          would leave the under desk area open and possibly reduce the number of lewd acts. anyone who’s really going at it in public with no coverage under the desk would have to be determined to get busted for indecent exposure and lewd acts in the presence of a minor

    • Jawaka says:

      I can’t imagine that child protections laws are written in a way that they would prohibit hard core pornography from being seen in a local magazine shop or gas station but allow it in a public library.

      • rmorin says:

        That’s because it’s not a child protection issue, it’s a free speech issue.

        • dangerp says:

          It’s a child protection issue, with free speech being thrown in as a red herring. You are free to watch whatever you want on the internet, but that doesn’t mean you can watch lewd material in front of children. Why would it be OK to show a stranger’s children videos of buttsecks in a library, but it wouldn’t be OK to expose yourself to children on the playground? Privacy screens and strategically facing monitors would fix the issue.

          • joe80x86 says:

            Exactly, show children porn anywhere other than this library apparently and watch how fast the kids are removed by child services and you are in jail and/or registering as a sex offender.

            • veritybrown says:

              Bingo. It is illegal for an adult to show porn to children. If the guy is looking at porn where children can see it, he’s breaking the law. If the library is allowing it…can you say “accessory,” boys and girls?

          • rmorin says:

            You all are missing some major points. Also free speech is never a red herring.

            1. This individual did not actively try to find children to show this material to.

            2. This is a public library where information of EVERY form is accessed. Just because you disagree with it, does not mean that it is not a valid form of information/expression.

            3. In the absence of someone actively attempting to “corrupt a minor” or however the jurisdiction defines it, it becomes the parents responsibility to prevent their children from exposure to these types of media. This is not opinion, this is basic interpretation of law.

            I think it’s a classless, gross, and creepy move to look at porn where kids could see it BUT I am willing to fight for peoples right to information in any form freedom of censorship from the government. “Censorship being wrong, unless I think it is okay” is not an american ideal whatsoever.

    • Charmander says:

      The library’s stance is absurd.

      If the library believes it is okay for someone to be looking at hardcore porngraphy in the presence of children, they need to subscribe to hardcore print magazines – and allow children to check them out.

      My solution: there should be separate rooms for people who want to looks at porn or violent imagary (think: war & genocide related stuff), so that people aren’t inadvertently exposed to it.

  5. IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

    I guess I don’t understand wanting to view porn in a library.

    • Cat says:

      Some strange form of exhibitionism?

      • Coffee says:

        His wife monitors his internet usage at home.

        • Cat says:

          My wife monitors my porn viewing, too. She’s always afraid she’ll miss something.

          • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

            So she takes notes and say, “ooh, we should try that one sometime!”

            I’ve heard it mentioned that porn poses are not “fun” poses, they’re entirely to look good on camera.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Very true. If you want pleasurable poses, find a legit book on sex.

              #kamasutra

    • BlueHighlighterNextToACoozie says:

      Different strokes for different folks!

    • Jane_Gage says:

      You get all that spyware and shit on your home PC when you pipe your jackoff material there. You don’t want to at work either, although my boss seems to not view that as an impediment. I have to run malware bytes on it once a day.

      • IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

        That’s why I have the profession that I am in.

        But really, does just viewing it satisfy that, um, urge?

      • IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

        That’s why I have the profession that I am in.

        But really, does just viewing it satisfy that, um, urge?

      • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

        That’s why I use my PSP for d/l porn & use the av cables to watch on tv or computer screen, that’s not strange or anything write?

    • Darrone says:

      He doesn’t have the internet? It’s scary, but not everyone does.

      • lettucefactory says:

        Buy a magazine? Rent a DVD?

        I mean, it’s not like you can whack off in the middle of the library computer zone, anyway. If fantasy alone doesn’t do it for you and you really need those visuals, how does porn-in-public even solve the problem?

        • IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

          That’s what I’m sayin!

        • IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

          That’s what I’m sayin!

        • Marlin says:

          it’s not like you can whack off in the middle of the library computer zone

          YOU CAN’T?!?!?! I mean… oh yea… of course.

        • Darrone says:

          They have restrooms don’t they? Not suggesting this as appropriate (nothing in this article is appropriate behavior), but there’s a good chance this guy is homeless, or is some state of transience. And by god, if the Constitution stands for anything, its the freedom to fap.

        • Jane_Gage says:

          My boss and I both go to strip clubs–you can’t stuff your hands down your pants there either, but those establishments don’t seem to be hurting for revenue.

    • hmburgers says:

      IT Princess, you don’t understand because you are a normal person. A normal person would never want to view porn at a library or any other public place…

      Now a crazy person, that is perfectly fine with them…

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      I am with you – I just do not understand anyone wanting to do this. It is just, just, eeewww.

    • kobresia says:

      Because it’s funny when the Church Lady gets her panties in a knot, and then has to explain “anal penetration and other adult content” to her children because she was a busybody who is shoulder-surfing other patrons.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      I can give a real-life example on why someone would be watching hard-core porn in a library. I was doing a rather lengthy research paper on the adoption of Japanese culture and entertainment by Americans, and this included information on how the cultural differences affected the interpretation of characters and their actions in movies and anime. One of the big differences was that there was (it’s been a couple of years, so I can’t say if there still is) a pretty big stigma against miscegenation that comes out really blatantly in some of the more hardcore entertainment. Because I’m using the library’s online journal databases for research, and trying to coordinate what I’m reading with actual material, by the end of that paper I ended up watching a good portion of “Legend of the Overfiend” (an infamous tentacle anime) at the public library.
      In my own defense, I was discreet enough to make sure that the computer I was using was not facing out into the general populace.

      • levelone says:

        FYI, the term “miscegenation” is considered offensive unless you’re using it in historical contexts. It’s because the concept of miscegenation is considered racist, and the word is still used by racists as an offensive word. You’d be better off using “interracial”, it’s far more neutral.

        Also, “miscegenation” isn’t strictly definitive of sex, it includes marriage and genetic admixture so you’d be better off using the words “interracial sex” in that context.

    • Anna Kossua says:

      It doesn’t seem that different from men who deliberately expose themselves in public. There’s the ones who open their coats in front of women; others who “accidentally” allow their private parts to hang out of their clothes. If a man is watching pornography out in front of other library patrons, it’s on purpose — in a way, it’s a kind of assault.

      That should absolutely not be allowed. The people around have no choice, and children should not be exposed to it, especially in the context of the viewer watching it ON PURPOSE, to force those around to notice it.

      I should add that I’m not against consenting adults watching this stuff. What adults do in their own bedrooms is their own business. I’m not typically a “think of the children!!!” overreacting person. The problem here is people wandering by don’t get to consent. Kids walking by cannot, by law, consent. Pornographic websites themselves require visitors to be over a certain age, but this is all bypassed. This man is deliberately exposing children to pornography, and that is unacceptable.

  6. tkates says:

    The library in my old town had the same problem and the same response. However, they ended up moving their computers to another floor and replaced the glass panels that allowed other patrons to watch the porn watchers’ “reactions.”

    • Debbie says:

      If I was in charge of that library and they gave me grief about it, I would just get rid of the computers. No more argument.

  7. amuro98 says:

    Isn’t showing kids porn a crime? Would this count – and not against the library, but the patron?

    • Lydecker says:

      Good question. I do think that showing kids porn is a crime, yes, but this is not the man actually doing anything specific to show children pornography – technically there could be a case, it might be that anything you are doing with knowledge that kids could be in the area would be seen as showing them pornography. Depends on the lawyers i guess.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      IANAL, but while showing porn to children is very probably a crime, watching porn in a place that children may be is very probably not a crime. It’s not like he said “hey, kids, look at this!”

      • Jawaka says:

        Then why are gas stations and magazine shops required to keep adult magazines either covered, behind a counter or in a restricted section of the store?

        • DariusC says:

          Just because something was made illegal/legal doesn’t mean it should have been, it just means that someone was able to work the system in a way to make the item illegal/legal. Using examples of “certified wrongs” in society is a bad way to make your point.

          • Ryno23 says:

            No it’s not – it’s actually a good way to show (in)consistency – whether you agree or disagree with the law is not the point.

        • Billy says:

          A lot of times it’s not a legal requirement. It may be company policy, though.

        • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

          That I can answer – because the sale and/or distribution of pornography to a minor is illegal. So, the best way to insure that these mags aren’t being sold to minors is to keep them separate. I’m not sure about whether keeping the covers, um, covered is legally required. But from a lot of personal experience with comics (which can straddle and sometimes cross that line), I can say that would be a normal reason for keeping the adult mags apart from the rest of the periodicals.

    • LMA says:

      Yeah, I don’t see how his first amendment rights weren’t immediately displaced by the illegal sexual harassment that any other patron could reasonably be expected to complain about.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    All kidding aside, aren’t there law against showing children pornography?

    Eliminating the library setting for a moment: If an adult showed to a child, or through negligence allowed a child to see, pornographic materials, I have to imagine there are state or federal laws on the books deeming that, at the very least, he/she is aiding in the deliquency of a minor. There’s more likely a law deeming it some form of sexual crime against a child.

    So back in the library, wouldn’t either the patron, the library, or both, be quilty of said crime? The patron didn’t hide the pornography while children were present, and the library allowed a setting that promulgated viewing of pornography by children.

    • stevenpdx says:

      After the library told her they would not intervene, Mom should have done everything she could to mitigate the situation.

      Like, move herself to a different computer.

    • Darrone says:

      I think you make a leap between “showing” and “allowing it to be seen”. Snooping over a guys shoulder, and that IS what she was doing, it hardly negligent.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Fair enough. But if a child is there, and you do nothing to hide it…

      • Oddfool says:

        Not choosing sides here, but…

        “I told the librarian and asked for help in having him move to a more discreet location. She could see the screen from the information desk where we were standing and was sympathetic…”

        Does not appear to be shoulder-snooping if it can be seen from the information desk. (Although, distance is not given, the desk could be right next to the computer.)

        • Darrone says:

          So, you’re saying the Library is the negligent party?

          • Oddfool says:

            As I said, I didn’t want to choose sides. But since you’re asking…

            You’re asking for the negligent party, looking to put blame on one person. But there may not be just one person at fault. Let’s look at all parties…

            Patron viewing said subject matter. It is (currently) his right to view such material, as long as the material is not illegal in its own way, on the library computer. Where we start having problems with that is when, while viewing such matter, he does not restrict from view of passing children. Could be contributing to delinquency of minor, yada yada yada.

            Library. They are not censoring the material (nor should they, unless, said material itself is illegal.) However, by not doing something, like placing viewing obstructions, or requesting the viewing patron move to a different computer, they could be said to be contributing to delinquency yada yada, through inaction. In many areas, if you see a crime in progress, and do nothing to help the situation, or even report it to authorities, you could be charged. Might something like that apply here? By asking him to change computers, they are not censoring him from watching, just changing the venue slightly to prevent little eyes from spying.

            Finally, the mother. Upon noticing what the patron was viewing, why did she not just continue herding her little ones on their way. If they had not yet noticed it, chances are they wouldn’t have anyways, as they are escorted into the children’s section. By bringing this subject up, and making a deal out of it, of course her children are going to focus on it and pay attention more.

            So, I think all three have some part in this, But I hate assigning blame; I’m more for looking for solutions to prevent this in the future.

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      I’m having visions of that “very offended guy” from Clerks.

  9. sweetgreenthing says:

    Wow, I’m conflicted. I totally agree with the library’s statement. I oppose censorship- but… hardcore porn in the library where everyone else can see it? I’m not sure what the solution is, but there should be some safeguards so people under the legal viewing age aren’t exposed to it. They do have that “are you 18 or older?” checkbox, because kids aren’t supposed to have access to it. This indirectly gives kids access.

    • Debbie says:

      The definition of censorship has gotten too broad. You have a right to see anything you want. I have a right not to see it or pay for it. You have a right to say anything you want. I have a right not to hear it. In other words, your rights stop at my face and I don’t have to pay for your reading or viewing material. I just can’t stop you from reading, viewing or saying what you want. That would be censorship.

  10. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Something’s wrong if he’s just ‘looking’ at porn. If he’s rubbing himself then his behavior should get him kicked out.

    I’d embarrass him into leaving.

  11. smo0 says:

    No. Unless it’s some kind of research on a nudist colony or extreme art… outside of that, if you’re blatantly looking at porn for the purposes of getting off…. and you’re doing it in public – that’s just messed up. We had a guy at my last job who watched porn DAILY until someone busted him.

  12. PeanutButter says:

    I’m all for Constitutional rights, but allowing an adult to view porn in a setting where children are known to be present is disgusting. It’s a public library, kids are going to be there. If you’re going to let adults view porn, at least move the computers to an area where others (adults and children alike) cannot see what is being viewed.

  13. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Are there kids around? Then FU*K no!

    Let them steal it from their friend’s dad or find it in the woods amongst blankets and beer bottles — like I had to do when I was 7.

    • kobresia says:

      Yeah, getting a hard-earned glimpse of “erotic materials” now and again was a treasured part of childhood! Mom & dad gone? Let’s ransack their room for contraband, the treasure hunt is on!

      Good times…

    • Kuri says:

      Or likwe how they do it now, stealing net time late at night.

  14. DrRonster says:

    I would have expected the library to have prohibited access to those sites thru filtering by their servers, so I can’t vote for any of those choices. In my office, my notebook is placed so that anyone walking by can only see the back of it since I sometimes get emails that I don’t wanted viewed or read by others. I don’t care what I’m sent nor do I care about the vulgar language patients may use. To me it is just another way of communication.

    • catskyfire says:

      They state they don’t filter because it’s not their place, as a library, to censor. That goes for web sites as well as for reading materials. They don’t card someone who tries to check out a romance novel.

    • catskyfire says:

      My library system dealt with this by having the screens put into special desks, where you look down, and there are partitions on either side. To see what someone is doing (whether banking or porn) you’d have to stand right over their head, in which case, you’re too close, and what you see is your own risk.

    • shepd says:

      Filtering is a terrible idea. They do that at some of the libraries here. I figured, what the hell, let’s get today’s lottery numbers. So I head on over to the lottery’s website…

      CONTENT ACCESS FILTER BLOCKED. Reason: GAMBLING.

      Yeah, I could bug someone to fix it. But forget it. Not worth my time.

      You know what costs 1% of the cost of the PC itself, and about 5% of the cost of keeping one of those crap filters running? A privacy screen on every single PC. If you go shoulder surfing, that’s your own problem. Unless we choose to remove romance novels from the library…

  15. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Take a video of the perp watching porn and post it on YouTube.

  16. jp7570-1 says:

    This is a tricky issue. Libraries can use blocking software, but we all know that’s never 100% effective and there are always ways around it. The other side of the issue is how far does this go to violate First Amendment rights? Some taxpayers may want no restrictions on publicly-funded computers in librarieis, while others want to block objectionable content.

    There is likely no good answer, except common sense (which we all know ain’t all that common). Seems there was a similar issue awhile back with someone playing an X-rated DVD on their vehicles video players, where the screens were clearly visible from passing cars (screens on the back of headrests and in the headliner). The police got involved and arrested the driver but I never heard if the charges were filed, overturned, or if there was actually a conviction.

    Maybe the Seattle Library needs a Champagne VIP room?

  17. dourdan says:

    i see people looking at porn on library computers all the time; i just find a new place to sit.
    the computers are not very big (so it’s not like you can see the porn from miles away) and there is no sound (so you can ignore it if you really wanted to.)

    it is gross, but not life changing.

  18. Bladerunner says:

    I’m going to call shenanigans without more to the story.

    In the first place, she’s so concerned her kids might see it that she doesn’t pay attention to where her kids are, so we should be glad I guess they didn’t wander into traffic.

    In the second place, I find it hard to believe he was just looking at hardcore porn and not touching himself (which would obviously not be kosher), unless it was something else that the woman simply assumed was hardcore porn. Like a movie with a sex scene, or a how-to video on self-breast-exam or something.

    In the third place, the kids only saw it after they “had wandered over looking for [her]” seems to imply that it wasn’t as visible as she’s saying in any event.

    In the fourth place, I’m curious why she felt the need to go to the press; this doesn’t sound like something they’d have heard about on their own.

    In the fifth place, I am saddened at the (presently) 37.5% of you that want to take my money at gunpoint and put it to use it to pay for speech, then use more of it to filter out the speech you don’t approve of. I am all in favor of “adults only” unfiltered rooms and all, but if it’s constitutionally protected, I don’t want my library censoring it altogether. It’s far different than the old “well only buy the uncontroversial ones, we can’t buy em all anyway” concept, considering once you get the internet, you get it all, and you have to pay extra for less.

    • amuro98 says:

      Actually, at my local library, you can can see the tables for the internet computers right when you walk inside. In fact you can see part of the screens of the computers while waiting in line to check out materials.

      I suspect the library did this partially to gently discourage folks from using those machines for their private peep shows.

      • Bladerunner says:

        I wasn’t calling shenanigans at the concept of libraries with visible monitors, I was calling shenanigans on the idea that the monitors were visible to all but the kids didn’t see them until they “wandered over” to where the mother was.

        • SmokeyBacon says:

          Well, at our library the way the layout is the children’s section (which is more for younger kids) is separate from the adults section and the computers are facing the adults section – but since the adult section is where you would go to do research it is often used by kids that are like middle school aged. So if the mom is in the adult (but used by kids too) section and her kids came over from the kids section to find her in the adult section then the scenario as presented is totally possible – my guess is that their library has a similar set up.

    • hmburgers says:

      “In the second place, I find it hard to believe he was just looking at hardcore porn and not touching himself”

      City libraries are fairly disgusting on an average week night. My guess is we’re looking a case of a homeless guy with 10 layers of clothing… he’ll have his right hand on the mouse and as far you know doesn’t have a left arm at all…

  19. Gregory says:

    This patron needs to do three things to get along in the real world:
    1) Teach her kids not to look at what other people are looking at on their computers. For this reason and for general politeness, it’s like reading over someone’s shoulder.
    2) Watch her kids. Know where they are and what they’re doing unless she’s in the kid’s area.
    3) Teach them that that behavior is expected to be done in private, regardless of whether or not it matches her values.

    • Jawaka says:

      I agree with you.

      And the person watching the porn in public should have been moved to a more isolated place. The library is there for everyone however there are still public decency and child protection laws.

      • El_Fez says:

        Child protection? It’s not like the guy was going “Hey kid, come over here and watch this!” – the kid was looking over his shoulder (if even that – mom saw it first, right).

  20. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    No blocking software (thats censorship). Likely the person watching porn isn’t there because he likes watching porn in public, (although possible) but because he doesn’t have a computer at home. Ask the librarian to suspend computer privileges for porn users on a by- complaint basis.

  21. reimero says:

    This question has been around for as long as libraries have offered public internet access, and it does lead to some very interesting questions. Censorship is a valid concern, but so is the question of corruption of minors. When I worked for a public library, they did apply filters, but had a policy of overriding those filters on request for sites that were not overtly pornographic. That is to say, legitimate research was encouraged, and written words were permitted, but the goal was to keep the library a family-friendly place. At the same time, when it came to circulating materials, the library’s policy was clearly that it was on the parents to monitor their children’s borrowing habits.

    I was one of the people who was left to deal with some of these issues. Someone would find porn, and it would be on me to clean up. And some of the stuff was…. yeah. Ew.

  22. Biblio Fiend says:

    Public librarian here – this is a tough one. As long as the porn isn’t illegal then it is constitutionally protected. If they are unable to reposition the computer area so the screens aren’t quite so visible then they should really install privacy screens, at least on the computers facing out into the public areas. While the screens aren’t perfect you need to get pretty close to accurately see what’s being displayed. It’s also on the librarians (or whoever’s monitoring the area) to make sure the person isn’t doing anything physically inappropriate and to call the police if they are. I just don’t get people – I would think the embarrassment of being called out for viewing something like this would be enough to make them do it elsewhere or at least request a computer that isn’t so in the open.

    • Harold Kint says:

      Does the public have a constitutional obligation to pay for someone’s internet access to view porn?
      What is the purpose of a library?

  23. Clyde Barrow says:

    Here we go again with another story of incompetence. “We’re a library, so we facilitate access to constitutionally protected information,” the rep explains to SeattlePI.com.

    Yeah,, so what. Move the damn computers to an area in which children are not subjected to porn. Wow,,,that must be hard for them to reason this process. Constitutionally protected information is not required to be shown openly. It’s a win-win. Besides, this explanation of the rep clearly shows that they do not care about what children are subjected to and if this is the case, they should be fired. Children’s needs should always be number one, period. Allowing children to view such a perverse type of entertainment is sick.

    • DariusC says:

      I assume your comment was filled with sarcasm. In the event that it wasn’t, you should keep in mind that sex is natural, along with the naked human body. That being said, I certainly don’t know why people wouldn’t prefer the privacy of their own house over the library. Even more-so, why that somebody wouldn’t at least try to find a private area to view their material rather than subjecting everyone else to it as well (embarassing much?).

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        All kinds of acts are ‘natural’, but that doesn’t give someone the right to make others involuntary public participants in them. Taking a crap is perfectly natural but I’d prefer library patrons refrain from doing that in front of everyone, too.

    • Bladerunner says:

      Oh, Spock, I realize that Vulcan is your first language, not English, but learn how to use those commas!

      Also, by your own logic, the woman who is complaining is the “sick” one, since her kids didn’t even see anything until, by her own negligence, they followed her to the offending computer.

    • iheartdm says:

      Yes, that would be a nice option. However if there is no room then there’s nothing to be done. The library I work at has no available space to move computers. If we could we would to avoid these issues. And as to firing the representatives of Seattle Public Library, these people do care about children but not at the price of censoring the rights of patrons, freedom of speech & freedom of expression.

      • Gertie says:

        Why should my tax dollars support free hardcore p0rn? Really, I want to know why?

        Why do libraries exist? To assemble, house, and protect information and literature. The founding principle of the library system was never, ever, to be a place to go to watch hardcore porn.

        I can see it now, all those earnest librarians of yore…”Our fervent hope for the institution of libraries is these hallowed halls shall forever be a place of respite, research, study, intellect…and lots and lots of buttsex.”

      • Charmander says:

        You do have a constitutional right to view pornography. You can view it at home. You probably can’t view it at work. There are many places you CAN view it.

        However, what makes you think you have a right to view it at the public library?

  24. travel_nut says:

    I consider myself a highly tolerant person, and I don’t have a problem with porn, but I don’t think that bystanders of any age should be subjected to someone else’s porn in a library. A library is intended to be a safe place for all ages.

    The library should make an effort to restrict content or have computers that can’t be seen by bystanders. (The porn corner?)

  25. Ilovegnomes says:

    If you can’t drop your own pants in public, should you be able to watch other people without pants in a public?

  26. balderdashed says:

    “Should libraries let people look at porn in the open?” is really the wrong question. While a library is a public space, the library experience is going to be better for everyone if library patrons can read or view whatever they wish, without their choice of material being subject to the gaze or scrutiny of every other patron in the vicinity. If I’m sitting there reading a book, it’s really nobody’s business what I’m reading — and typically another library visitor would have to go out of their way to discern my tastes in literature. As the computer (or IPAD, Kindle, etc.) inevitably replaces the printed page, I still don’t want somebody looking over my shoulder — no matter what I’m reading or viewing. It shouldn’t be that hard to set up libraries so that everybody has a reasonable amount of privacy, particularly as technology advances. This would help protect kids from material that may not be appropriate, while avoiding making librarians play the role of censor.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      In a public place, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. If this man were walking around on a college campus with his iPad streaming porn with his headphones on, would the situation be any different? What about on public transportation?
      When headed back to where I park, on the bus, I often glance at other people’s phones and iPods, mostly to what what games are being played. When I text while I’m on the bus, I always assume that anyone close enough can read it and I censor appropriately.
      Books often have the book’s title on the top of the left-hand page. It only takes a moment to read this and not much effort, if you know what you’re looking for.

      • balderdashed says:

        You’re clearly correct that in a public place, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. That means that if you or anybody else wants to photograph or video me (reading a book or whatever I happen to be doing) in most cases you have every right to do so. But I’m making a different argument here: that the best way to serve the needs of most library patrons is to provide — insofar as is possible — a comfortable environment in which patrons don’t feel that somebody else is “looking over their shoulder” (even if they have the right to do so). That’s probably difficult to do on public transportation — on a crowded bus where seats are close together and even your thighs may be in unavoidable contact with some stranger. But in a public library with tables and chairs, it may be more achievable to provide an environment in which patrons don’t feel they need to censor every word from inquisitive eyes. And it’s simply a good idea. (As to your other point: I, for one, don’t often glance at other people’s phones or IPODs when I have the opportunity — I consider it rude, whatever their expectation of privacy.)

  27. hmburgers says:

    I know a girl who worked at public library branches in Cambridge MA… she said that there were lots of homeless people and general crazies who would sit there in front of a PC for hours on end looking at porn and all other manner of lewd and disgusting things.

    They basically said there is nothing they can do to stop these people because where do you draw the line? Some art might be considered pornographic by others, so who is to say that what many of us would consider pornography is not “art” in the eyes of someone else…

    There is a children’s section of most libraries, so if you have truly young children that’s a place to go… for the age 12 and up crowd, yes, I think it’s a tough call…

    If it were up to me, if something is deemed X rated, viewing only those over 18, then it should not be view-able at the library period. If we have a problem where that becomes twisted into a way to censor things other than pornography or fictional violence, then cross that bridge…

  28. Tim says:

    Perhaps the library could place some computers so that the screen is facing toward a wall (in other words, no one in front of the screen, other than the user, can see it). Then put signs on these computers and other saying “If viewing adult content, please use those computers.” No actual filters, so probably no constitutional problems.

  29. Tegan says:

    I definitely wouldn’t want my kids watching something like that, but this mom just grates on my nerves. She got the police involved, and mentioned the “right not to be inadvertent viewers”. What constitutional amendment is that again? As long as it’s legal, she has no case. Besides, her kids wouldn’t have been “inadvertent viewers” if she had done a better job keeping up with them instead of running off to report this guy.
    While the courts ruled that it’s legal for a public library to use censorship filters (which I don’t agree with), there is nothing saying that they have to use them. It scares me how many users here seem to think that filtering is the best solution.

  30. cornstalker says:

    So does a constitutionally protected right to free speech permit me to shout obscenities and scream at people in a public library, or would that be considered disruptive, and would I be asked to leave if I didn’t stop?

    Hardcore pornography is no different. This perv is an exhibitionist. Throw him out.

    • Bladerunner says:

      There is nothing in the evidence given showing the dude was disruptive in any way. Only the woman made a scene, and only the woman’s negligence allowed her children to see the material.

    • balderdashed says:

      Ridiculous analogy. To shout and scream at people in a library (or in most other places) certainly would be disruptive — whether you’re shouting and screaming obscenities, or the Ten Commandments. There would be no way for someone to avoid your shouting and screaming (unless, perhaps, they knew you were planning to show up that day, and came prepared with the kind of protective headgear typically worn by operators of loud equipment). But I can easily avoid another library patron who is reading or viewing something I might not like, by focusing my gaze in another direction, or sitting at another table. In other words, by minding my own business. The other problem with your assertion that “hardcore pornography is no different,” is that it is — in part because you and I may well have different ideas about what is truly obscene. As long as the activity is consensual, I don’t happen to consider a penis entering a vagina nearly as pornographic as a stray bullet entering the brain of a ten-year-old child, who’s been shot on her doorstep because she’s unlucky enough to live across the street from a crack house. Or as offensive as chemicals entering our drinking water courtesy of a Fortune 500 company, and causing cancer decades later. Yet some of us remain focused on sex and behaviors you would call perverted, while continuing to tolerate other extreme forms of behavior that are much more serious, harder to escape, and do far more to degrade our humanity. That’s a shame.

  31. SmokeyBacon says:

    I remember reading something about that happening around here a few years ago and the library having a similar reaction but I honestly don’t remember what finally came of it. I know the parents were all mad and wanted somthing done and the library was going to look into it, but I am not sure what the looking into it lead to.

  32. Serenefengshui says:

    The library used to have special covers on the PC screens so one couldn’t see another screen if just walking by. I don’t understand why they took them away.

    And of course, no censorship. The library was probably the only place that poor guy could view some porn.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Also add another screen at lap level. Thank you.

      • El-Brucio says:

        Actually, I was thinking of the reverse – glass desks.

        I’m all for the right for people to look at whatever they want on the internet. So let them look without it disturbing anyone else.

        But public masturbation? Ick. And I really don’t want to sit somewhere to use a computer and find a previous occupant has left it sticky because it was private enough to do so.

  33. Cat says:

    Seemingly off topic, but related:

    NBC yanks ‘Fear Factor’ episode where contestants drink donkey semen
    (May not be safe for work
    http://www.tmz.com/2012/01/29/fear-factor-donkey-semen-episode-pulled-off-nbc/#.TyhRo85Umg4

    Would it be okay to watch THIS in a library?

  34. Rachacha says:

    I guess I can understand the library’s position of not wanting to censor material, however, prior to the Internet, did the library subscribe to Playboy & Hustler magazines and allow patrons to read them in the library? If they didn’t then would that not be considered a similar form of censorship? Does the library filter against the viewing of child pornography which is illegal?

    • kobresia says:

      Actually, I’m pretty sure the one here did subscribe to a couple adult magazines– you just had to be an adult to have them brought out from the back room. And I would assume they had to read them in the library, since periodicals weren’t allowed to leave the library.

    • Bladerunner says:

      You miss the point that, unlike with print media, where each item costs money, it actually costs more money to filter the internet than it does to let it be the internet.

      • Rachacha says:

        opendns.com is free and quite effective at filtering unwanted material.

        • Bladerunner says:

          Who bill themselves primarily as a security solution. Ahem: “The easiest way to prevent malware, botnets and phishing attacks, and make your Internet faster and more reliable.”

          More to the point, it requires man-hours (or woman-hours, as the case may be) to set up any system; even a negligible amount of effort has a correlation based on money. Particularly if you want any hope of any kind of useful search results to people doing the regular kinds of research.

  35. Conformist138 says:

    My thoughts: She did the right thing by going to the info desk. Once she got her answer is where she screwed up. Rather than take the matter into her own hands, thus drawing even more attention to what was happening, she should have just gone with her kids to the kid section and made sure to keep them away from the guy. Unfortunately, society isn’t always clean and happy and child-friendly, even in areas where kids are.

    If the kids had seen the screen, it would be a great opportunity to have a sit down and explain some things, including what they saw and what they thought of it. Parents can be so focused on never letting their kids know about the world that they forget part of raising kids is preparing them for reality and providing context for the things they experience in the world. Just getting mad that they found out this material exists doesn’t do anyone any good.

  36. kobresia says:

    There’s a difference, albeit a subtle one, between “censorship” and “enforcing appropriate decorum in a public place”.

    That said, I really wonder how much porn is consumed in the countries that aren’t so sex-obsessed as the USA. Seems like public nudity and nudity in the mass media, whether billboards that everyone (including children) can see or on TV, is not terribly uncommon in much of Europe. If we dropped the Puritanical obsession with sex, maybe we could also tone down the extreme violence in the media– maybe what people want to see is sex, and since they generally can’t see it, they want what’s second-best, but it’s hard to get enough.

    I wouldn’t take children to any public libraries, anyway. They’re little more than day shelters for vagrants. I can see the pub library as being a valuable resource for someone who’s homeless and searching for work, but it sort of is a problem when bums are just loafing around, doing inappropriate things, and getting into fights.

  37. humphrmi says:

    When I was young, I was standing in line behind a guy checking out the book “Show Me”. (I’m not going to link to it, you can decide whether you want to google it yourself. ) This was a published book that, by most standards, contained child porn. I’m pretty sure it’s not available any more legally, not that I’ve checked. One librarian made some remarks about “that disgusting book” and refused to check it out to the guy; another librarian near her admonished her to not judge the patron, as any book that they carried were meant to be checked out.

    My point is that this has been a problem in public libraries since long before the internet.

    • Luckie says:

      By whose standards? American or European? The Los Angeles Times’ standard, or the New York Times’ standard?

      Also, it is sad what happened to this book – though it was ruled non-obscene in several courts, the publishers could no longer pay to fight the legal battles, and so had to stop distributing it in the US (though in Europe, it won many awards, and there was even a second edition that came out to discuss AIDS.) In the end, it effectively was censored.

      Disgusting abuse of the legal system – keep them in court until they can’t afford to defend their freedom any longer.

      • humphrmi says:

        I don’t care about the politics. I was making a point about libraries.

        • Luckie says:

          You said that it contained child pornography. A book that was given positive reviews by several prominent American newspapers, received awards from religious organizations in Europe, and was ruled non-obscene by four courts. That doesn’t sound like child pornography to me.

          • humphrmi says:

            I did not say that. I’ll invite you to review my original statement. Look closely at the words between “This was a published book that” and “contained child porn”. I don’t need to debate the validity of those standards because they’re not pertinent to the issue at hand, how libraries handle controversial content (like porn on computers, or before the internet, books with nude pictures.)

            • Luckie says:

              Most standards. And so, I asked, what standards? If you don’t think the validity and accuracy of your statements is important, and they are not relevant to the point, why do you make them?

      • Kuri says:

        That’s one of the ways some destroy what they don’t like.

        If you can’t get it banned outright, make it too expensive to defend.

    • Not Given says:

      OMG, I looked it up, it’s going for $225-$450

  38. TerpBE says:

    Maybe the guy was just looking for information on political candidates and decided to google “Santorum”.

  39. Professor59 says:

    I’m all for keeping government out of our business, but come on. A public library where kids can watch porn is not OK. Let ‘em read back issues of National Geographic. Protecting children from exposure to adult material is not censorship. Do we let children into strip clubs? X-rated movies?

  40. Rachacha says:

    Best solution would be for the library to create a special “adult room” that requires you to verify you are over 18 to be allowed admittance. They could hang red velvet curtains on the wall and dim the lights. Because this would be a separate room it would probably get pretty dry so hand lotion at each workstation would be a nice service. /s

    • El_Fez says:

      Can we opt for the swinging saloon doors instead of a red curtain? That’s the one thing I miss from the VHS rental store days – the back room with the swinging doors.

  41. tungstencoil says:

    To all the “conflicted” people, your conflict is over the fact that suddenly someone is doing something that you find abhorrent. When you do something you believe is rational that someone else find abhorrent, you don’t want them infringing on your rights. Same holds true here.

    Sorry, but free speech trumps individual concerns. I’m not saying the guys isn’t a jerk; I’m not saying the library can’t/shouldn’t make it more difficult for people to view others’ Internet habits. I am saying that the library is correct: they should not censor legal media of any kind.

    I just really dislike people who claim to be all about free speech, or rights, or the constitution, or anything like that *up and to the point* that someone does something they don’t like. The Westboro Baptist Church comes to mind. They’re maggots, but they have every right to do what they do.

    To the folks who liken it to being naked in public, or any of the other silly (and irrelevant) analogies: “art” shows nudity (what is art?), public restrooms often have variable amounts of exposure (especially men’s), as do changing rooms (women’s) and especially locker rooms. If you want to claim that it’s OK because it’s segregated by gender, I can make adult film analogies that would coincide with the gender of the observers… and so on….

  42. crispyduck13 says:

    I understand the library saying they are allowing uncensored access, but give me a break with that “constitutionally protected information” bullshit. It is no one’s constitutional right to view porn in a public library. Jesus tap dancing Christ.

    If you’re too broke ass to get yourself a Hustler subscription or access to cable or the internet in your own house well guess what, you don’t get to see porn. It’s really just that simple.

    • Bladerunner says:

      Reading comprehension fail.

      “”We’re a library, so we facilitate access to constitutionally protected information,” the rep explains to SeattlePI.com. “We don’t tell people what they can view and check out … Filters compromise freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. We’re not in the business of censoring information.”

      You can’t say you “understand the library saying they are allowing uncensored access,” but then say “give me a break with that “constitutionally protected information” bullshit.”

      Here’s how speech works: either it’s constitutionally protected, or it’s illegal. So, there’s really no way to understand a position allowing unfiltered access while saying that calling porn “constitutionally protected information” bullshit. And while it may not be a constitutional right to view porn in a library, neither is it a constitutional right not to be offended.

  43. alexmmr says:

    I probably just would have said in my naturally loud, carries across a room voice “Really sir? You simply must view your pornography on a computer where all can see? I’ve not asked you to stop watching your anal porn, I simply asked that you move to a more private computer such as that one over there. But if watching hard core porn out here where we can all stand over your shoulder and join you is so vitally important, I guess I can’t stop you.”

  44. pot_roast says:

    I love the part where having gained no satisfaction from the library staff, she takes it upon herself to go over and demand that this guy (who is committing no illegal act in of itself, and not violating any posted rules) cease his activities and/or go do them somewhere else… just in case her children *might* see.

    Then her children wandered over to see what mommy was making a fuss about and saw it. Did they even comprehend what they were seeing? Probably not, until they saw mommy making a deal out of it.

    Guy in the library? yeah, that’s pretty obnoxious.
    But self righteous soccer mommies are even worse. Sorry, I’d rather have freedom of speech than the current mommy crowd we have that is hell bent on eliminating anything that they deem offensive from the internet just in case their precious little snowflakes should see it. It’s because of people like that we have constant complaints to the FCC about half the stuff on TV.
    It’s your kid. Guide them elsewhere.

  45. sbigger says:

    I’m the tech librarian for a public library. I can say we do not let people look at porn on our computers. We don’t have filters, but if we see you, you will be kicked out. Our policy is written to say that and everyone has to agree to the policy to use the computers.

    It’s understandable that for a large library it’s hard to monitor, but when you get complaints you should do something about it. You’d kick someone out if they were standing there with their pants down. Other than the fact it’s on the internet, it’s still the same parts.

  46. faeberry says:

    Easy solution: my public library has physical filters over all the public internet computers. You can see through them only from your chair–anyone standing up or walking behind you can’t see through the filter. That way they don’t have to worry about censorship issues at all, and everyone is happy.

  47. Jim says:

    This guy is really lucky. I would never use a computer in a public place displaying pornography. f it had been me, I’m sure the lady would have screamed, police would have been called and my name would be printed in the local newspaper.

    Dude – at least find a corner spot with your laptop facing the wall and be discreet.
    Oh – you must have your own laptop because as a taxpayer I’m not going to support public computers for you to watch porn. It may be free speech in a political sense, but taxpayers don’t have to pay for your equipment.

  48. iheartdm says:

    As a current library employee, I voted for yes, but you should be considerate of those around you. Libraries are meant to be a place for information and knowledge and any type of censorship from our part goes against what we are supposed to stand for. But I wish people would use common sense and decency when deciding to view porn on public computers, yes, it’s your right but please think.

  49. Minj says:

    I bet if the guy was playing a game that involved running around and killing people, she would have never complained.

  50. chocolate1234 says:

    One of my friends is a college librarian and was talking about a similar issue a few months ago. Apparently they feel very strongly about not limiting access to patrons.

  51. RayanneGraff says:

    If that creep could access porn on the library’s computer, then kids probably could too, right? I’m about as anti-censorship as anyone can get, but the library needs to either set up a special adults-only area where the pervs can perv out, or else install filters to block adult content. People should be able to take their kids to a public library with the reasonable expectation that they will not be exposed to pornographic material while simply walking through the library. Kids are innocent, they don’t need to be exposed to things like anal penetration. Ugh.

    And can I add- GROSS!!! Normal people wait till they’re alone to watch porn, it takes a real sicko to go to the freaking LIBRARY and watch hardcore porn out in the damn open in front of everyone. I honestly would call the police if I ever saw someone doing that. I’m no prude but it skeeves me out to the max to think about some exhibitionist freak getting his jollies knowing that other people can see his porn. Ew, ew, ew. People that do that kind of thing definitely do it on purpose. I had a guy come into my computer shop once & ask for help backing up his pictures. He then opened up his pictures folder to reveal nothing but hardcore porn. It wasn’t too hard to figure out that he showed them to ME, a female, on purpose either. Both I and the other female that works here now have strict orders from the boss to let him or the manager deal with this guy from now on, because he’s a sexual deviant. Yuck.

    • Carlee says:

      Not sure about this particular library but at the county library in my area, the computers do block out explicit sexual material. The computers in the children’s section have more restrictive filters. And parents have to sign a permission form to allow their children to use the computers – they are also supposed to indicate whether the account should has the more restrictive filters, or just the general one (that is, if the child was using a regular/general computer, not in the children’s section).

  52. Velvet Jones says:

    I don’t understand why you would be watching porn at all in a library, but at least show common courtesy. Looking at violent or graphic photos would be equally bad. If you want to look at something that is likely to be disturbing to the average person then find some place that has a limited view to the rest of the patrons.

    I still think people that do stuff like this do so just to be dicks. Back when smoking was still allowed in restaurants my wife and I were sitting at the bar waiting for a table to open up. This trashy looking woman was sitting next to us, puffing away on a cigarette. My wife said to me, in a relatively low voice, that the smoke in the room was starting to get to her. Literally 10 seconds later the b*tch next to her pushed her ashtray closer to my wife, and and started holding her cigarette over top of it, so that the smoke was drifting right at my wife. Luckily a table opened just at that moment, as I was about to shove that ash tray down that woman’s throat.

  53. Froggee285 says:

    If you are watching Porn in a library and a kid sees you watching it, would that be considored showing pornography to a minor? Would the library be complicit in this, as they were aware of the situation but did nothing to stop it?

    This is screwed up. How on earth is that okay. What is Wrong with people. I dont care about the constitution in this situation…do you think Jefferson would have been Okay with someone thumbing through dirty drawings infront of a child? No. Its called decorum, and manners. They can kick out homeless people from a library because they smell, but lets protect the perverts. I would have raised HOLY hell, and gotten up in that guys face and made a scene, and god help me if the police came, I would have had the porn man arrested for showing my daughter porn. Ridiculous.

  54. gafpromise says:

    How can the library not have a policy about this? I’m positive that my library does. Come on, do they really want people jacking off in their publicly used chairs?

  55. FilthyHarry says:

    Yes the Library should let any person surf any legal site. However anyone breaking any public indecency laws or exposing minors to obscene material (this would include any advertising, political, or religious proselytizing content) should be prosecuted as anyone else would in similar circumstances.

    So you can surf porn legally on a library website but you’re still subject to the same laws that would apply to someone masturbating on the subway while reading Newt Gingrich campaign pamphlet.

    This is why this issue is BS. Clearly if no one know that someone is surfing porn its not an issue. So its not using the library computer to surf porn that is the issue. The issue is violating public indecency laws (whether or not you agree with them isn’t the point. What matters is they’re on the books) and those laws already exist.

  56. PortlandBeavers says:

    Your tax dollars at work.

    Remember this next time there’s a hue & cry about how libraries will have to be shut down without funding increases. I like the idea of what a library should be, but extremist anti-censorship positions like this one make the places downright creepy these days. I wouldn’t touch a library computer if my life depended on it. I have nothing against a person looking at porn in private, but I hate to fund public institutions that allow homeless people to view porn in the open and don’t see anything wrong with it.

  57. Kuri says:

    Put some of the computers in cubicle type spaces, then enable porn blockers on the open screens and disab le them o nthe walled off ones.

  58. Mike Toole says:

    My library has privacy screens. Those little stick-on, lenticular monitor covers that make it very difficult to see what’s on the screen unless you’re fairly close and DIRECTLY behind the computer. Seems effective enough.

  59. zombie_batch says:

    Crazy how so many commentators are against watching porn in the library considering the large amount of support for another ‘in public’ hot button topic around here. Not the same but pretty damn related.

  60. dwasifar says:

    If the act being depicted would not be legal to perform in person in front of a child, then I see no problem with asking people not to show a filmed performance of it in front of a child.

  61. Miss Malevolent says:

    We have an open policy of sorts…I mean we have filters in place but people get around them or there a new site that hasn’t been put on the block list.

    If we don’t see it and we get no complaints, people are free to watch what they please. But if that mother had come up to one of our staff, the person would’ve been asked to stop watching the material or leave the library.

  62. MadDog233 says:

    First off, I’m all for the consumption of anything by responsible adults in private settings, let it swing man.. but…

    I don’t understand this idea that public libraries are responsible for serving up any information that exists to patrons. Growing up it was always my understanding that they exist to house literature, reference and educational materials. It’s great that they have added CDs, DVDs, more mainstream magazines, etc., to try to stay relevant to customers, but no where does it say they need to provide adult material, specifically pr0n on disc, magazine, or in internet. If I as parent brought little kids to my home and allowed them to watch pr0n, I’d be arrested. A library is a public place and subject to the same decency laws as any other. My suggestion – install cameras that monitor the users and computers, put in a policy that says if you view adult material on these, the police will be called and you will be arrested for indecency. I’m sure the viewing would be halted voluntarily by the offending patrons, certainly after the first one was arrested.

    • Potted-Plant says:

      ^^ I like it! After all, individuals have no expectation of privacy in public places, so taping them shouldn’t be a problem. Post a sign stating public decency laws will be strictly enforced. Remove the free speech/censorship b.s. from the argument altogether.

      The opportunists won’t risk it and the deliberate pervs will be arrested. Seems like a pretty tidy solution.

  63. Debbie says:

    I shouldn’t be paying my tax money for others to look at porn in the first place. Buy your own and look at it in the privacy of your own home, if you must.

  64. elangomatt says:

    I would think that most libraries would have an “acceptable use” policy that has to be signed either when getting a library card or before they are allowed to computers to access the internet. I work at a public college and it is in the rules of attending the college that you must agree to the acceptable use policy to use computer resources.

    If someone complains to a staff member that a student is viewing pornography, security is called and they get talked to at the very least. We don’t use any kind of filtering software since that blocks too many legitimate sites.

    I wonder how the library would have reacted if he took “it” out.

  65. damicatz says:

    Nothing amuses me more than watching the puritans in this country get bent all out of shape.

    Sex is a bodily function. It is no different than eating. I assure you that your ten year old child already knows about the various sex acts; it’s nothing you don’t learn from the other kids in elementary school.

    The most ironic thing is that parents teach their children that lying is bad yet lie to them on a daily basis.

  66. Rocket says:

    So, by the Library’s logic, I can watch porn at work and not get in trouble? Cool.

    • damicatz says:

      Well first off, most workplaces are privately owned. A private owner can set whatever policies they want.

      As for public-sector jobs, your job is to work so unless you are a porn star (giving the rapid expansion of the welfare state, government provided porn isn’t too far off) you would be in violation of rules that say you have to work and not do things that aren’t work.

      • Potted-Plant says:

        And all of the lawsuits won by plaintiffs stating that porn and inappropriate sexual language in the workplace makes a hostile work environment? Legal precedent is not on your side.

  67. Swins says:

    Ohhh they are going to get in trouble. This has already been hashed out before. Yes the library doesn’t have to filter BUT it also has a reasonable responsibility to protect minors from certain content.
    It’s a win for the mom if she sues the city.

  68. some.nerd says:

    I wonder if a USB drive stored in his undergarments? The library should also enact a “no portable storage accepted from undergarments” policy.
    You know, for the kids.

  69. r-nice says:

    Showing porn to children? I didn’t see anywhere in the article that he was calling kids over to “check this out”. He was minding his own business.

  70. centurion says:

    She should have expressed he right to free speach by hitting the idiot in the head with a chair.

  71. ole1845 says:

    This came up in the Minneapolis public libraries and the biggest problem was that the employees complained of being in a hostile work environement. I agree.

    Sorry, but I can’t hang pornographic pictures up in my cubicle even if I face them so no one can see.

    Filtering software was installed. If someone had a real reason to go to a blocked site they could just make a request to have the software disabled. Problem solved.

    • Potted-Plant says:

      Even then a librarian would have a valid complaint if they didn’t have the proper training to safely clean up any potential biohazards afterwards.

  72. varro says:

    The only question I have is what would be considered “porn” – what the complainant said definitely is, but you know there’s going to be some prissy-pants conservative who would call a PG movie “inappropriate”.

  73. Robert Nagel says:

    These are small people who finally have an issue on which they can feel superior. The fact that they are promoting an activity that is dangerous to you and especially your children. You can be assured that hard core pron watchers have a better internet connection at home than the one at the library. They do this because it excites them. The act of watching porn with others, hopefully females, watching at the same time gives them a thrill running up their leg. (Sorry Chris, I couldn’t resist). The danger comes from the allowance of these perverts to interact with young children and perhaps create a fixation between the perv and the children. As a Dad I didn’t allow my children, even as teenagers, to go to the video store that carried porn. Thel ast thing I wanted was some creature grasping the latest in salacious entertainment standing behind my daughter and injecting her image in his prurient dreams. There was one that didn’t in our town and they got all of our business.

  74. Bladerunner says:

    Folks, the point is that libraries exist specifically to house information to be provided to citizens. Books, movies, etc. must be purchased, so there will always be a filter only due to cost. If someone, say, donated a bazillion dollars and said “This is to buy everything commercially printed this year”, the library would say “Okie doke thanks for your support” and do it.

    The internet provides terabytes of content, including things some might find “obscene” for free. In a reversal of the usual order, it actually costs the library to block access to things. Why would that be compatible with an organization that was specifically instituted to provide information?

    What’s porn, vs. say http://supersexycpr.com/ ? Once you go down the road of saying what people are allowed to see, you go down the same road that gets Huck Finn (which incidentally is in public domain, and therefore available on the internets) banned. Yes, it contains language we consider offensive, possibly as offensive as some see porn, but there’s merits to it, aren’t there?

    Here’s another example, keeping in mind that this man wasn’t in the kids section and broke not a single rule, say this dude was looking up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Throat_(film) . Intrigued at this movie that broke into the mainstream, he wanted to look online for clips, bearing in mind there was no sound and he wasn’t in a kids area. Suddenly this woman’s behind him, complaining at him. He tells her to eff off, she storms off in a huff. Who’s wrong? The man, for following all the rules as posted? The woman, for trying to force her version of morality on him? The library, for allowing him to research something that was a huge cultural phenomenon in the 70s?

    Many of us on here would argue that it’s the woman who is in the wrong. That her view of what is or is not an acceptable research topic is not his or the library’s problem.

  75. central_ny_dude says:

    So, any of you remember the old video stores, where they had an “Adults only” section, which was curtained off, roped off, set back from the rest of the videos? And if the managers caught anyone appearing under age going in there, you got kicked out? Why is this not an answer to the problem? You have to check an “I’m over 18″ box, if you intend on taking your “research” past that point, you should be moved to a computer that is not near the main foot traffic of the place. You aren’t denying access, you aren’t censoring anything (from people that are of legal age to see it), what’s the problem?