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table of excuses for pushing pornography into public libraries including authors and excuses used:excuse number key:
we acknowledge the excellent work of another organization that created a similar "excuses excuses" page. please see citizens for literary standards in schools at classkc.org and "excuses excuses" at www.classkc.org/excuses.php.
|your name here|
the censor: motives and tactics: "[a]ll would-be censors share one belief-that they can recognize "evil" and that other people must be protected from it." "[t]here are four basic motivational factors that may lie behind a censor's actions [that] often merge ... in the censor's mind." "[t]he censor may fail to see that the library fulfills its obligations to the community it serves by providing materials presenting all points of view and that it is not the function of the library to screen materials according to arbitrary standards of acceptability." [as the travelocity gnome would say, phooey!! first of all so-called "arbitrary standards of acceptability" are often legally defined standards followed for years by many, except the ala. second, the claim that "it is not the function of the library to screen materials" is dead wrong since cases like us v. ala make this their function and since, what a coincidence, it was the libraries themselves that decided to stop keeping children from inappropriate material, kind of like if doctors decided to stop keeping children from playing with used needles in their offices because that should be a parent's responsibility.] "in the united states, under the first amendment, no citizen and no librarian can properly assume the duty or right to restrict or suppress legally protected expressions of ideas." [this is just plain legally wrong. the ala knows this from the case they themselves lost, us v. ala. this is propaganda of the worst kind - just tell a big lie often enough and people will think it's true.]
intellectual freedom and censorship q & a: "censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons�individuals, groups or government officials�find objectionable or dangerous." [wrong. flat out wrong. pure propaganda. "[t]he first amendment was never intended to protect obscene material. .... [w]hen the aclu accuses ... people ... of 'censorship' when they engage in [various activities,] law enforcement and private speech efforts to protect the community and children are not censorship, which, properly defined, is an act of a government agent selecting what materials or portions of materials can be published in advance."] "sexual expression is a frequent target of censorship. but the supreme court has told us that material is not obscene unless a judge or jury finds that an average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the material appeals to the prurient (or morbid, shameful, and unhealthy) interest in sex (note that, by its definition, the court implicitly recognized that there is such a thing as a healthy interest in sex!); that it depicts or describes certain sexual acts defined in state law in a patently offensive way; and that a reasonable person (community standards do not control this last element) would find that the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. all three elements must be present for material to be judged by a judge or jury as obscene and, therefore, illegal." [this propaganda is at the core of the claim that no one can say what's obscene -- only a court of law can do that -- so if one objects to 5 million obscene web sites on public library computers or books on the shelves, according to the ala a librarian cannot make that judgment and 5 million legal cases will be required for a library that follows the ala to prevent access to those web sites. is the ala not an extremist organization?]
coping with challenges strategies and tips for dealing with challenges to library materials: [the outrageous propaganda is too voluminous to continue here, but this document also includes guidelines on how to fool the media and the public and how to infiltrate public schools with propaganda, like this: "try to talk in user-friendly terms your audience can relate to: freedom of choice�not the library bill of rights. 'people with concerns' or 'concerned parents'�not censors." is this not outrageous?!? "by wrapping themselves in the flag, ... civil libertarians could pursue their political objectives while feigning loyalty to the nation."]
"symposium: law and cultural conflict: ideological conflict and the first amendment," by steven j. heyman, 78 chi.-kent. l. rev. 531 (2003).
c. shielding children from pornography
the community also should have authority to protect children from exposure to pornography - not only by restricting the public display of such material, n331 but also by regulating the manner in which it is distributed.
as a general matter, individuals should have the right to see or hear what they choose. but this right does not apply with the same force to children. for the liberal tradition, rights are grounded in autonomy, or the capacity for rational self-direction. n332 because children do not fully possess this capacity, they lack full autonomy. instead, others must care for them, not only to safeguard their physical well-being, but also to promote their intellectual, emotional, and moral development, and to enable them to develop into autonomous individuals. n333 in a liberal society, this responsibility rests primarily with parents, who have both a duty and a right "to direct the upbringing and education of [their] children." n334 it follows that parents should have some authority to determine what forms of expression their children are exposed to.
in our society, many parents believe that certain kinds of material - such as those containing graphic sex or violence - are harmful to children. as i shall suggest below, this belief is a reasonable one, and parents therefore should have a right to shield their children from such material.
it might seem that such authority should rest solely with parents, and that the state should have no role. but the widespread availability of such material in the larger society makes it virtually impossible for parents to act effectively on their own. instead, if parents are to have meaningful rights in this area, the community must have the power to regulate the manner in which such material is distributed. n335 [*609] moreover, because human nature has a social dimension, the society and its culture inevitably have a powerful impact on the character of its members. although liberalism presumes that adults are sufficiently autonomous to resist harmful social and cultural influences, this assumption cannot be made with respect to children. for these reasons, the society should have a duty to restrain itself and its members (such as those who make and sell pornography) from exposing minors to material that the community reasonably believes to be harmful. this duty applies with special force in areas where the society has undertaken a positive responsibility with regard to children, such as public education. but the duty also applies more generally.
in short, the community's authority to shield children from harmful material rests on two interrelated justifications: (1) it is legitimate for the state to assist parents in the exercise of their own right to protect their children against material they reasonably consider to be harmful; and (2) the society has an independent duty to restrain itself and its members from exposing children to material it reasonably regards as harmful. in both cases, the community must make a judgment about what material is harmful to children. it is also necessary to consider how much value a particular form of material has, for regulation is justified only where it is reasonable to believe that the harm that flows from the material outweighs its value. restrictions that cannot be justified in this way are not only improper, they may also violate the first amendment rights of older minors to decide for themselves what forms of expression they wish to see or hear. n336 although children lack full autonomy, their capacity for self-determination increases over time. as they near adulthood, they develop an increasing ability to exercise rights to self-expression and to receive information and ideas. although parents and the state retain the authority to impose reasonable restrictions, regulations that are unreasonable may violate the first amendment.
[*610] of course, the question of what material is harmful to children is a controversial one. this is particularly true in the area of sexuality. some people are skeptical that minors are harmed by exposure to sexually explicit material, or that such material can reasonably be distinguished from other expression (such as information on contraception, reproductive health services, and sexually transmitted diseases) that minors should have access to. n337 however, it is fair to say that most people in american society, including most parents, believe that children should not be exposed to pornography. to be sure, they would give differing explanations for this position. conservatives maintain that pornography conflicts with appropriate moral attitudes toward sexuality, while many feminists disapprove of such material on the ground that it degrades women. finally, while liberals are less inclined to regard pornography as harmful in general, many would regard it as inappropriate for children - for example, on the ground that it portrays sexuality in a depersonalized way which undermines the connection between sex and love. although these views differ in their rationale, they agree in holding that it is inappropriate for children to be exposed to pornography. this strengthens the case for regulation, by showing that multiple perspectives lead to the same result. n338 moreover, these views are not mutually exclusive: many people believe that pornography is harmful to children for several (or even all) of these reasons. once again, this provides a good example of how it is possible to reach some common ground in the culture wars.
the view that i have outlined is generally consistent with the supreme court's decisions on the subject. in ginsberg v. new york, n339 justice brennan, writing for the court, declared that a state "legislature could properly conclude that parents and others, teachers for example, who have ... primary responsibility for children's well-being are entitled to the support of laws designed to aid discharge of that responsibility." n340 in addition, he asserted that "the state ... has an [*611] independent interest in the well-being of its youth." n341 deferring to the legislature's determination that exposure to pornography tended to "'impair[&r b; [sic] the ethical and moral development'" of young people, n342 the court sustained the constitutionality of a statute that barred the sale to persons under the age of seventeen of material that met the supreme court's obscenity test, as adapted to apply to minors. n343 in subsequent cases, the court has repeatedly recognized that the state has "a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors," and that "this interest extends to shielding minors from the influence of [material] that is not obscene by adult standards," but that is reasonably thought to be harmful to minors. n344 at the same time, however, the court has made clear that this "interest does not justify an unnecessarily broad suppression of speech addressed to adults." n345
how should the first amendment apply in cases where the interests of both adults and children are involved? in some contexts this problem poses little difficulty. for example, it is possible to require identification for entry to adult bookstores and establishments, and in this way to effectively exclude most minors. n346 in other contexts, however, such as the internet, it is not yet technologically feasible to shield children from exposure to sexual material without imposing some burdens on access by adults. n347 in some recent cases, the court has shown an inclination to protect adult speech in this situation. n348 treating laws intended to protect children as content- [*612] based restrictions on expression, the court has subjected such laws to "the most stringent review," and has struck them down if they are unable to meet the demanding requirements of strict scrutiny. n349 in my view, however, a more nuanced approach is called for. from a rights-based perspective, the problem is one of reconciling competing rights: the rights of adults to view pornography, on one hand, and the rights of parents and the community to shield children from such material, on the other. resolving this problem calls for a careful consideration of the nature and value of the rights on both sides, as well as the alternative ways in which each interest could be satisfied. n350
on this view, the court in reno v. aclu n351 was clearly justified in striking down the communications decency act, congress's first effort to regulate internet pornography, for the statute was far broader than necessary to shield children from harmful material. n352 it does not necessarily follow, however, that all such efforts should be held unconstitutional. n353 although adults should have a right to view pornography, it is not unreasonable to require them to bear some burdens to prevent that activity from resulting in harm to children - for example, by paying the cost of placing such material behind "identification screens" intended to exclude minors. n354