Nov 14 2010

United States v. American Library Association

Photo courtesy bowmanlibrary, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Photo courtesy bowmanlibrary, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

<soapbox> In researching information regarding the U.S. Supreme Court Case United States v. American Library Association, I was truly amazed how many people (blogs, etc.) are terrified that the government is about to take away their freedom to look at porn. I’m sorry folks, but pornography is not what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the first amendment. The British government would imprison people for speaking out against the current ruling party or officials, and in creating our Bill of Rights, the authors wanted to ensure that the same wouldn’t happen here. It’s a slippery slope fallacy to try to argue that filtering out pornography on public library computers so that children aren’t exposed to the seedier side of the web is going to lead to government censorship of unpopular political viewpoints. </soapbox>

Luckily, the US v. ALA case does not have much direct impact on school libraries, as they are nary mentioned in the ruling at all. However, it is not a slippery slope argument to think that some over zealous parent could easily take it upon him/herself to begin a similar lawsuit against their children’s school because they blocked a site about breast cancer or something similarly frivolous.

If you feel like reading my entire brief on the case, click the link below. Unless you’re studying court cases relevant to education (like me and my classmates), you may find it a bit dry, so consider yourself warned.

Corcoran_US v ALA (PDF)

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    • pallender on November 20, 2010 at 5:37 pm
    • Reply

    I can see where this case would give some people worry about the government taking over their rights. As I look at what you posted about the case it was a very close decision on the case and it was all about the government funding and internet filters. I can see where some parents or individuals could say that there is too much blocked or there is too little blocked. It looks to me like all public libraries, must have clear guidelines for all employees in when and when not to remove filters. This case too me is much like skating on thin ice, you may be punished if you do or punished if you don’t apply filters.

  1. Well, I think the law itself is all the guidelines you need: if an adult asks to remove the filter-for any reason-you do it. If a minor asks, you don’t do it. Sadly, it’s really that simple. If the government wants to take away my ability to view “certain websites” in public, who cares? Now, if the government tries to take away my ability to publicly complain about the fact that they took it away, THEN I’d have a problem.

    • Jada Reed on November 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm
    • Reply

    Well I could see why people, or parents, would definitely want there to be filters even at a public library. I wouldn’t want to walk into a library with my child, and have them be exposed to anything similar to that. Personally I don’t care if anyone takes away my right to view something in public. I figure it’s for a reason.

    • Amy Cooper on November 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm
    • Reply

    This case is somewhat similar to my case. I agree with Ryan’s point of view on his blog post. I can’t believe people compare freedom of speech to freedom to see pornography. With this case and my case, some of the issues are the high filtering software that filter out non-pornography but questionable topics for children. Hopefully educated people know when to turn off the filters and when not too.

    On a funny note! I was just filtered on this site. It rejected my use of the word “p-rn”, but allows “pornography”.

    • ryancorcoran on December 4, 2010 at 10:11 am
    • Reply

    Ya, the filters around here are kinda sketchy. Another reason I’m moving my blog over to: Don’t forget to head over there and subscribe to my new RSS feed!

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