Friday, April 18, 2008

Library Director Lies to Stop Filters; Desperate Move to Mislead Public Contradicts the Library's Own Policy


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.


Lie 1:

"'[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.

Lie 2:

"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.


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!


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?


[NOTE 1]
[NOTE 2]
[NOTE 3]
[NOTE 4]
[NOTE 5]
[NOTE 6]
[NOTE 7]
[NOTE 8]
[NOTE 9]
[NOTE 10]
[NOTE 11]


  1. The following quotation is from "Web Filters Move Closer to Approval," by Susan Steinmueller, The Mirror, April 13, 2008. It shows Metta Lansdale misleading the public again, this time by saying the Internet Use Policy is adequate. She is holding it up to make the claim adequate protections are in place. Yet, as I showed, she will not enforce the policy because, essentially, it's none of anyone's business what other people do in a public library, according to her.

    "At Monday's meeting, library Director Metta Lansdale said the library already has an effective computer use policy, which is revised annually. The latest change, in February, was the addition of an ID card for computer users to remove anonymity for users and provide a further obstacle to misuse of computers.

    "'We have codes of conduct and the staff is empowered to enforce that conduct,' she said.

    "Lansdale said the codes address the behavior of people using the computers and 'behavior is key.'

    "She also said there are many problems associated with filters."

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I have been in touch with "Heath" who apologized and corrected me about the personal information I uncovered. I accepted the apology.

    In return, apparently since some of the information I provided about Heath's personal connection to the issues was incorrect. Therefore, I withdraw it all. I can't figure out how to edit comments so that is the best I can do.

    Heath stands by what was said substantively and looks forward to further interaction with me. I applaud that and look forward to more as well.

  4. obviously, this is ancient history, but I really would like if you could please find some way to remove my personal information

  5. In respect of "Heath," the comment dated Sun May 04, 02:08:00 AM 2008 has been removed as a means to edit out the requested information. I suppose that's the only way to do it. It is now republished in the next comment, only without that information.

  6. On Sun May 04, 02:08:00 AM 2008, said...

    Apparently this blog touched the raw nerve of a library student. He felt the need to reprint it all, intercalating his comments. See "Another irresponsible diatribe by '" He even felt the need to spread his ad hominem argument to another web site (under another name, hopkinshj), LISZEN. Flatteringly, both posts appear to be his first--it appears I was the impetus to start him writing. But after reading his comments, it becomes clear why he does not reveal more than a first name. ([Information elided upon Heath's request.])

To that student, identified only as "Heath," I make the following response:

"Heath" says, "The constitutionality of Internet filters was not the focus of United States et al. v. American Library Association...." Based on that, Heath disagrees with me vehemently that CIPA-compliant filters are constitutional. To further his goal of obfuscation he relies on ad hominem argument to make his case by, among other things, calling me a "shameless propagandist." For whom, children?

    But disagreeing with me is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the US Supreme Court would not approve unconstitutional filters. That, the statements from the Court supporting the constitutionality of filters, and the way the case has been interpreted by others (other than Heath) proves "[i]t's [sic] is a form of government censorship when libraries put on filters" is the very lie by Royal Oak Public Library Director Metta Lansdale I stated it was. Filters as applied in the CIPA decision are not censorship. Period.

    ... continued in next comment.

  7. ...continued from previous comment originally from Sun May 04, 02:08:00 AM 2008:

    Then Heath says, "Gonzales did not address the efficiency of Internet filtering software." Well that is flat out false. Gonzales not only addressed it, but found filters so effective that COPA was overturned largely for that reason. It appears to me that Heath is lying as well now. Of course, I could be wrong, but I read the case, and it is plain as day filters were found to be extremely effective and at least partially the reason COPA was found unconstitutional.

    It is beyond me why Heath says, "Your references are so vague, it is impossible to debate your points. Citing sources ambiguously destroys any credibility you might have with your readers." I cited my cases exactly, saying "based on the court cases I cited," and Heath cannot figure that out? However, not figuring it out gives him another platform for more ad hominem argument to hide his lack of an effective logical argument.


Heath's arguments regarding the implicit/explicit wording show he does not understand what I said. He needs to reread it carefully.

    Then Heath just plain old pulls a dirty and misleading trick. I can't see how anyone could ever consider him authoritative anymore on any issue and again I have no idea why he would do this. He says, "Let's look at what you omitted with ellipses," and proceeds to add two whole paragraphs of material I supposedly left out, obviously implying I am purposely misleading people. In reality, the only material I left out and exchanged with the ellipses was "or other Internet access devices." "Or other Internet access devices" was irrelevant to the argument I was supporting. It consists of only five words. Yet Heath skewers me for misleading people with the ellipses saying, "Makes a big difference when the passages are actually used in context, doesn't [sic]?" In reality I left out five irrelevant words. This is plain old dirty pool. I like to speak with people, but not if they play dirty pool.


Lastly, Heath says, "Your logic is poor, your quotations are out of context, your reading of law is self-serving and manipulative, and the majority of what you put forth as fact is distortion or just plain untrue. I can disagree with someone, and yet respect his or her position. I have no respect for you. You are a shameless propagandist." Given what I said above, it is obvious Heath was talking about himself, obviously using projection to push onto me what he himself was doing.


Comments of a personal nature, trolling, and linkspam may be removed.