Sunday, July 12, 2009

Somona County Wants Internet Filters; Library Director Sandra Cooper Defies Grand Jury Claiming “Slippery Slope"; Local Library Policy Plagiarizes ALA

Dear Sonoma County Leaders,

In "Sonoma County Grand Jury Urges Library to Protect Kids From Adult Web Sites," by Martin Espinoza, The Press Democrat, 10 July 2009, we see a community standing up to protect its children, and a library director standing up to stop the community from protecting its children.

It is that simple. The article reads:

The civil grand jury's report recommends that the library install Internet filter software "as a means of protecting minors against pornography" and to relocate computer screens at the central library so they cannot be seen from the main aisle.

Library officials have long resisted such recommendations. On Friday, Library Director Sandra Cooper described the use of pornography filters as a "slippery slope in terms of First Amendment rights."

Long resisted? Slippery slope?

Somona County residents need to know the American Library Association [ALA] is running this very week a training session on how to oppose those seeking to protect children. See "ALA Mocks 'Protecting the Children,'" by SafeLibraries, SafeLibraries, 1 July 2009.

Sonoma County residents need to know the ALA makes regular use of the "slippery slope" argument, which is a "classical informal fallacy." See "Slippery Slopes Okay for Gays, But Not Kids, Not National Security, According to the American Library Association,'" by SafeLibraries, SafeLibraries, 8 July 2009. Your own library director follows suit.

Sonoma County residents need to know pornography is not automatically legal in public libraries. Just read US v. ALA. Or would you rather believe this guy:

Byron Hendrix, 49, casually viewed lewd images at the downtown Santa Rosa library on Friday afternoon, exercising what he described as his First Amendment rights.

As teens walked past the Internet station where he sat, Hendrix clicked through one escort ad after another, each displaying women in various positions, some less clothed than others.

Sonoma County residents need to know privacy screens do not work. Acceptable use policies do not work; see also F1 and R1. Security cameras do not work. Moving computers to make the screens harder to see is like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. "'We’re looking at other ways to deal with the problem that don’t interfere with people’s access to information,' Cooper said." Don't believe her. She's really looking at excuses not to use Internet filters.

Sonoma County residents need to know even the ACLU has said Internet filters are 95% effective and no longer block out health-related information. See ACLU v. Gonzales, 2007.

Sonoma County residents need to know exactly how they are being misled by the library. Let's look at the Sonoma County Library's so-called "Internet Access Policy," which should really be called an "Anything Goes Policy":

The Sonoma County Library, in response to advances in technology and the changing needs of the community, endeavors to develop collections, resources and services that meet the cultural, informational, recreational, and educational needs of its diverse community by providing access to electronic information, services, and networks.

The Library offers access to the Internet. It does not monitor and has no control over the information accessed through the Internet and cannot be held responsible for its content. The Internet is a global entity with a highly diverse user population and Library patrons use it at their discretion.

All Internet resources accessible through the Library are provided equally to all Library users. Parents or guardians, not the Library or its staff, are responsible for the Internet information selected and/or accessed by their children. Parents - and only parents - may restrict their children - and only their children - from access to Internet resources accessible through the Library. Parents are advised to supervise their children's Internet sessions.

The Library does not censor access to materials or protect patrons from information. The Library does not select material available on the Internet, it provides access to it. Not all sources on the Internet provide accurate, complete, or current information.

The information in bold is false or substantially misleading:
  • "has no control over the information accessed through the Internet" - False. Internet filters could provide that control.
  • "at their discretion" - False. Internet filters could perform properly to control indiscretion
  • "not the Library or its staff" - Misleading. The library and its staff could legally and effectively filter the Internet information selected and/or accessed by children. Adults too.
  • "only parents - may restrict their children" - False. Legal and effective Internet filters may restrict children in the selection and access of Internet materials. And I see the grand jury report has already come to this conclusion.
  • "does not censor access" - Misleading. Internet filters legally and effectively applied do not constitute censorship. The ALA lost on this issue in US v. ALA. The library knows this, yet it chooses instead to imply the use of Internet filters constitutes censorship. So Internet filters can be applied, and this statement might remain true, only it would no longer be misleading. More on "censorship" below.
  • "or protect patrons" -Misleading. Recall above how the ALA mocks "protecting the children." The use of Internet filters would go a long way toward protecting patrons, including children.

Talk about misleading, you know what is really insidious? You what is really misleading? You know how the Sonoma County community is being is being purposefully and knowingly misled by the library? Look again at the library's "Internet Access Policy." See anything missing? Read it again:

[P]arents—and only parents—have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.

Do you see it? No?

What's misleading is akin to plagiarism. Your local library has not attributed the source of its policy statements. Whom did it leave out? Who is not disclosed as the true author? What a coincidence, why it's the ALA! The ALA wrote that statement quoted immediately above—sorry, I tricked you to make a point. Do you see how it is substantially similar to your own library's policy? Here again is yours:

Parents - and only parents - may restrict their children - and only their children - from access to Internet resources accessible through the Library.

The ALA statement comes from guidance it gives to all local libraries. Your library has lapped it up and not even told you. In my book, that's plagiarism. Even the Santa Rosa Central Library Revisited grand jury report didn't make the connection. See for yourself how that statement and so much more of Sonoma County Library policy is substantially similar to ALA directives, and your library doesn't even tell you: "Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials; An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights," American Library Association, Adopted June 28, 1989, amended June 30, 2004, ISBN 8389-7351-5.

So in 2004, even after the ALA lost US v. ALA in 2003, even after the US Supreme Court said, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree," even after the Court found CIPA constitutional, the ALA still advises communities, "The 'right to use a library' includes free access to, and unrestricted use of, all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chronological age ... violates Article V."

And your Sonoma County library continues to buy into that and not even tell the public it did a cut and paste job from the ALA, the very organization that essentially does the opposite of what the US Supreme Court said. I suppose "Article V" trumps the US Supreme Court, right?

Now back to false claims of censorship. Your own resident Bianca Stebbins, a Santa Rosa mother, couldn't have said it better:

Bianca Stebbins, a Santa Rosa mother who visited the library Friday with her two daughters, said the issue is not a matter of free speech or censorship. Stebbins, a business and life coach, grew up in communist Romania, where “censorship was our middle name.”

Stebbins said that since the library does not carry “XXX” magazines, there’s little justification for allowing “XXX” Web sites.

“Filtering Web sites is not censorship,” Stebbins said. “My children have the right to come to the library and be safe in their intellectual development, which is what the library is here for.”

She's a business and life coach? She clearly has her head on straight. Seems she's read US v. ALA too. I urge people to seek out her services. Don't let the library tell you Internet filters are the "slippery slope" to "censorship."

In conclusion, Sonoma County residents have been misled for a very long time with plagiarized material. They are currently being misled with fallacious "slippery slope" arguments by Library Director Sandra Cooper. Internet filters are the best means to achieve the goals of the Sonoma County Grand Jury. Anything else the library tells you is immediately suspect due to its past and current efforts to mislead you.

Library Director Sandra Cooper has been wrong before on library Internet filters. See "North Carolina Senate Approves Internet Filters for Libraries, Schools," by American Library Association, American Libraries, 30 April 2001:

State Librarian Sandra Cooper told American Libraries that librarians were able to convince the Senate Judiciary Committee to remove the library filtering requirement, but the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Howard Lee (D-Orange), restored it on floor, where it was approved by a wide margin [42-4].

Well now she's wrong again. Don't be misled.

(As an aside, notice Democrat Sen. Howard Lee restored the Internet filtering bill. Don't let anyone tell you this is only a "conservative/Republican" interest.)

UPDATE 12 JULY 2009:

The Sonoma County Library has in the past covered up child pornography.

From "Dangerous Access, 2000 Ed: Uncovering Internet Porn in America's Libraries," by David Burt, Family Research Council, 2000, pp.12-13, 54, see this:

At the Sonoma, California, Public Library, a staff member sent an e-mail message to his supervisor stating:
There are 3 men on my shift who come in regularly, perhaps daily. One views child porn of nude boys in tubs. . . . These images are clearly visible. . . .What does it mean to have child molester posters up in our staff lounge & yet we make daily Internet appointments for someone to watch kiddy porn in the library on the library comp? Isn’t this crazy?
But the supervisor responded:
I don’t like it either, but there is nothing we can do about it. The best thing for staff is to ignore it . . . please use your time in more constructive ways. 17
17. E-mail message of administration of the Sonoma County Public Library to a staff complaint about a patron regularly viewing child pornography, October 5, 1999.

1 comment:

  1. Since June 24th, 2009, I have made 3 separate visits to our local public library in an attempt to prove that pornography is often visited on public computers that are NOT filtered.

    I have discovered over 100 websites during those 3 visits that were accessible by simply viewing the history on the computer. One visit was the mother lode of all visits, specifically uncovering 3 days of history on one particular terminal. Total of 79 pornographic websites were visited by patrons over a 3 day period. Typically, the library deletes history but failed to do so last week.

    This continued practice and belief that it's wrong to "censor" porn in public libraries will one day ruin the life of an innocent child or teen who, by themselves, will discover the history of porn on a public computer and curiosity grasping hold. Libraries are setting up the ruins of innocence while crying "censorship" when they should simply consider morals before defending or ignoring criminal behavior.

    Terminal #12 at the Council Bluffs Library was the computer of porn last week.


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