TABLE OF CONTENTS
Lies In the Media
Lies In the Library Web Site
Galling Contradiction of Library's Own Policy
Notes for Fact Checking Purposes
Library Director Metta Lansdale uses lies and contradictions to stop political efforts to filter the computers at the Royal Oak Public Library in Michigan. [NOTE 1] Too strong a statement? Then what do you call it when the US Supreme Court in US v. ALA says Internet filters on public library computers do not constitute censorship, yet the director says they do? What do you call it when filters are so effective and no longer block out health-related web sites that even the ACLU testifies to this, the court in ACLU v. Gonzales found the Children's Online Protection Act to be unconstitutional precisely because of this, yet the director says the exact opposite? Worse, what do you call it when the library's own policy prohibits pornography but the director opposes filters that legally and effectively block it, then misleads people to decide as she would--against filters? A rose is a rose is a rose [NOTE 2], and a lie is a lie is a lie. Things are what they are.
LIES IN THE MEDIA
"'[A]dults are adults and they have a right to look at what they want to," Lansdale said. 'It's [sic] is a form of government censorship when libraries put on filters.'" "Survey: Most Libraries Don't Filter Computers in Adult Labs," by Catherine Kavanaugh, (Royal Oak) Daily Tribune, 17 April 2008. [NOTE 3]
False. Read US v. ALA [NOTE 4] to see why this is false in several ways. I could say more but I want you to read the case then think for yourselves.
"Filters are very arbitrary, blunt instruments that in some cases do more harm than good and I'm talking about adults trying to get legal information." "Library Seeks Input on Filters for Adult Computers; Director Urges Residents to Write, E-Mail Opinions," by Catherine Kavanaugh, (Royal Oak) Daily Tribune, 27 March 2008. [NOTE 5]
False. Read ACLU v. Gonzales [NOTE 6] to see why this is false in several ways. More recently, though after the director made some of her comments, independent studies show filters have improved even further still. [NOTE 7]
Lies 3, 4, and 5:
"'It's none of our business what people are doing on our computers. I don't want staff and passersby to have to look at what someone is looking at and I don't want people looking over their shoulder,' Lansdale said. Lansdale, who says she is appalled by what people find online, opposes filters because they block credible information about health and history and their mere use prejudges people coming into the library. 'What you end up doing is putting people in a situation where they have to come to a librarian and say, "I was doing a search that was blocked." It raises suspicions on you,' Lansdale said." "Libraries Debate Web Filters; Patrons' Privacy Rights Weighed After Many View Porn," by Jennifer Chambers, The Detroit News, 9 April 2008. [NOTE 8]
False. It is your business when illegal activity is taking place. Further, filters may be disabled or sites unblocked for bona fide reasons, not for the viewing of material that is illegal or that falls outside the bounds of the library's enabling statute or charter, etc., or its own policy, as we shall soon see. Adult pornography or similar constitutionally protected material may be implicitly or explicitly proscribed by the legal document that created the library in the first place. The library director has no right to exceed that authority. None. The government must step in if she does. Further, good filters no longer block health information. And "prejudging" people or "raising suspicions"? That too was asked and answered in US v. ALA in the context of embarrassment. Both US v. ALA and ACLU v. Gonzales prove the director is wrong here again.
LIES IN THE LIBRARY WEB SITE
Stepping beyond these public efforts to use the media to mislead the public into opposing library filtering, look now at the "Library Position" on the library's own web site [NOTE 9]:
"Filtering computers restricted to use by adults competes with the interest of right of access to constitutionally protected material. Filtering for adults raises questions as well as ire and occasionally lawsuits when filters are imposed on adult populations in public libraries."
False. I have already revealed how the courts have addressed that. And there will be no "ire" when the porn viewers move on to another community's unfiltered library. But see that scare line about lawsuits? Not a single lawsuit has been brought based on the Children's Internet Protection Act [CIPA] or the 2003 case of US v. ALA. There may be one or two filtering cases, but they are not the same issues as are being raised in Royal Oak. How that measures as "occasional lawsuits" is beyond me. Consider also that instead of lawsuits, numerous states have passed or have drafted legislation to bring the positive effects of CIPA to a statewide level. [NOTE 10]
"Students cannot complete homework assignments when sites are incorrectly blocked and adults cannot complete searches for health information or recipes. Internet filters often block material that should be allowed; objectionable E-mail attachments cannot be reliably blocked."
False, again based on the court cases I cited, among other things. By the way, those must be some recipes!
GALLING CONTRADICTION OF LIBRARY'S OWN POLICY
Even more galling is how the library director contradicts the library's own policies in her efforts to mislead or propagandize the public. Quoting from "Royal Oak Public Library Policies; Services Section 5.40 - Internet Access Policy" [NOTE 11]:
"In keeping with its stated mission to be an informational, intellectual and cultural resource, the Royal Oak Public Library offers access to a variety of information sources...." Pornography and the like is implicitly NOT part of the library's "stated mission." The director is exceeding her authority by either preventing the use of legal and effective Internet filters to meet that stated mission, or by misleading the public and governmental leaders into doing the exact same thing.
"Users of the Internet are expected to use this library resource in a responsible and courteous manner, consistent with the purposes for which it is provided.... Responsible, courteous use of the Internet includes .... using the library's Internet resources for educational, information, communication, and recreational purposes...." Bingo. Case closed. Pornography does not fit into the library's own written policy.
Now compare that library policy to what the library director said: "It's none of our business what people are doing on our computers." How does she expect to enforce the policy then? If it is not enforced, why even have the policy? Why not just be honest and change the policy to say there is no policy, anything goes?
The policy also says, "recognizing that both library-owed computers and patron-owned computers ... will be located in very visible locations and can be viewed by users of all ages, backgrounds and sensibilities, users should choose Internet-access activities accordingly." What could that possibly mean if not pornography and the like? Is this a useless statement to be tossed away by an aggressive library director who uses the media and the library's own web site to make people forget the library's own written policy?
"Library staff cannot consistently and effectively monitor the public's use of the Internet." No surprise, really, but although it is not being done consistently, at least it is done occasionally, right? So why should people believe the director when she says, "It's none of our business what people are doing on our computers."
Royal Oak Public Library's own written library Internet use policy makes it clear that pornography and the like is not to be allowed. Yet library director Metta Lansdale says, "It's none of our business what people are doing on our computers." She says other such statements in numerous media reports. In addition, her statements in the media and the library's own web site in opposition to library filters are entirely contradictory to US v. ALA and ACLU v. Gonzales. A careful reading of those cases will make that clear to anyone with an open mind. The library director is following a whole different set of rules other than those written by the Royal Oak community.
"Let's get people in a room, tell them what we are doing and why, tell them advantages and disadvantages of filters, and let them discuss it and give their opinion," Lansdale said. Does anyone think the library director misleading the public further can be trusted for honest information in compliance with the library's own policy? Can there be any result other than what the library director wants, instead of what the law and the library's own policy require?
NOTES FOR FACT CHECKING PURPOSES
[NOTE 1] http://del.icio.us/plan2succeed/RoyalOakMI
[NOTE 2] http://www2.english.uiuc.edu/finnegan/English%20256/gertrude_stein.htm
[NOTE 3] http://www.dailytribune.com/stories/041708/loc_localn01.shtml
[NOTE 4] http://laws.findlaw.com/us/539/194.html
[NOTE 5] http://www.dailytribune.com/stories/032708/loc_localn02.shtml
[NOTE 6] http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/07D0346P.pdf
[NOTE 7] http://filteringfacts.org/2008/04/13/new-porn-filtering-bake-off-at-rsa/
[NOTE 8] http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080409/BIZ04/804090367
[NOTE 9] http://www.ropl.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=144&Itemid=262
[NOTE 10] http://www.safelibraries.org/statecipalaws.htm#law_table
[NOTE 11] http://www.ropl.org/docs/policies/internet_access_policy.pdf