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News - Should public libraries install porn-blocking software on their computers?

Yes. The Internet is like a gigantic Playboy plugged in all over the library — 85 percent pornography

When you read Victorian pornography in the British Library, they make you do it in a special chair. No, this isn't another example of the predominance of oddness in British sexuality. It's simply a library policy to prevent abuse of the materials (i.e. shoving them into your knickers), not to mention the abuse of other library patrons, who'd rather not happen upon you abusing yourself in the stacks.

Rules like these are enforced because libraries don't exist to provide resources for public masturbation. This may come as news to hopeful 12-year-old boys, civil libertarians and creepy homeless men. But it's the reason why you can't find Hustler magazine in the periodical section: Libraries don't subscribe to Hustler because it's purely pornography — as opposed to Playboy, which is pornography and interviews with former President Jimmy Carter.

Furthermore, librarians don't store Playboy behind their desks because they want to limit your right to read about former President Carter's struggles with lust. They store them there because if they left them on the shelves, nobody would be able to read them or you wouldn't want to touch them.

The Internet is like a gigantic Playboy plugged in all over the library — 85 percent of its content is pornography, and the other 15 percent is useful information about subjects like former President Carter. The Children's Internet Protection Act simply addresses the existence of all this porn by requiring blocking software that can be bypassed in the same way you gain access to Playboy: You go up to the librarian and say you are an adult, and that you need to have full access to the gigantic box of porn because you want to read the articles.

It's hard to fault librarians who oppose the Internet Protection Act. Who can blame them for not wanting to spend another minute trying to decipher who's really researching former President Carter vs. those who simply want to download photos of naked girls? It must suck to work your way through library school only to find yourself charged with policing rooms filled with half-crazed transients and giant electronic boxes of porn.

But the alternative is worse: allowing libraries to become what 12-year-old boys would like them to be — palaces of unlimited porn. Or maybe, if left to their own devices, men and boys will recognize that Internet access in libraries is a valuable public resource that shouldn't be abused. Or maybe the dinosaurs will come back and eat up all the pornography.

Tina Trent spends a lot of time in the stacks.??





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