Should Los Angeles Libraries Ban Pornography On Public Computers?

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A City Council committee is scheduled Tuesday to consider whether people should be able to look at porn on library public computers.

The Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee asked for input from the City Attorney’s office after the Chinatown Public Library in early January received complaints. People told librarians that adults and children waiting in line to check out books could see someone watching pornography on a computer.

“We want to figure out the best way to prevent children and families from being able to see images that are pornographic in nature or offensive,” said Councilman Ed Reyes, who introduced a motion to address the issue, although it is the only incident to be reported.

“I don’t want to make it more than what it is, but how many incidents have not been reported?” Reyes asked. “Why not create a layout that allows screens and images to be shielded.”

Pornography is protected speech under the First Amendment but according to Deputy City Attorney Basia Jankowski, there is no constitutional right to unprotected speech.

“That includes depictions that are obscene and child pornography, “says Jankowski.  “It’s an `I know it when I see it’ situation. There’s not a black and white definition.”

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports.

The Supreme Court did hear a case in 2003, U.S. v. American Library Association, in which the Court ruled that it is constitutional to use internet filtering software to block pornography, until a patron asks for it to be unblocked. The Supreme Court did not rule on wholesale blocking of Internet pornography at public libraries.

Although no library has protested subsidizing this kind of material, the city could have a plausible argument for banning pornography in its public libraries.  The city could also make a resource-based argument that there are a limited number of computers and wants to make sure they are used for worthwhile things, such as research.

“Clearly the city is entitled to decide what books to buy for libraries,” said Eugene Volokh, a constitutional law professor at UCLA School of Law.

“The city could also just say this is not something we want to spend taxpayer money on. If the issue had to do with view points, like blocking access to racist sites, that argument probably would not fly,” said Volokh.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. David says:

    Yes it should not be allowed, we gonna let them fondle themselves while they look as well?

  2. David says:

    pervs don’t belong in the Library, there are places around where one can look at naked people in books in plenty of locations.
    public Libraries are Public and Porn has no place in that setting

  3. Icanread says:

    Uuuuuuhhhhh……. What’s a library?

  4. socalmal says:

    There ‘right’ to access porn stops where the public’s eyes, presence, and dollars begin.

    They can go to private businesses and pay for their access to porn or go home and view it. If they can’t afford a pc or Internet access, then they shouldn’t force taxpayers to provide it at libraries.

    Barnes & Noble and other booksellers have quite a bit of porn in the “art” or sexuality or
    gender Issues section. If you’ve never looked, you would be surprised at what is there. Regardless, public libraries shouldn’t be required to provide the porn on public computers.

  5. JP says:

    THIS IS RIDICULOUS! I CAN’T BELIEVE THE CITY CAN NOT TAKE A HARD LINE ON THIS. THE ANSWER IS CLEAR AND ALL ACCESS SHOULD BE BLOCKED TO X RATED SITES ON PUBLIC LIBRARY COMPUTERS. NO DISCUSSION NECESSARY.

  6. Bryan says:

    The cost of implementing filtering by far outweighs the number of pervs looking at inappropriate material.

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