governor pledges support for internet filters in public libraries
tuesday, july 26, 2005
- fran eaton, special to illinoisleader.com
blagojevich reportedly made the comments monday afternoon at the eola public library in aurora, immediately after he signed into law a ban on selling and renting sexually explicit video games to minors.
concerned women for america-illinois' state director kathy valente said the governor appeared concerned when he learned children could get access to violence and pornography on eola public library's computers.
�we just pointed out that children could access the same images on the library�s computer screens that he was trying to protect them from seeing in video games,� valente said outside aurora�s eola public library. �he said he didn�t know the library allowed the access to pornography on their computers. that's when he told us he would help.�
valente said that her group applauded the governor�s efforts to make illinois the nation�s first state to slap a fine of $1000 on retailers who sell video games rated �adults only� to kids under 18, but the setting for the bill signing was inappropriate.
�it was embarrassing that the governor chose a public library for the signing where children have taxpayer-funded access to the very things he�s trying to protect them from,� she said. �that makes as much sense as signing an environmental bill at a smeltering plant. what was he thinking?�
the eola public library requires parental permission for access to the library�s internet for ages 11 through 13, but does not restrict access to pornographic sites.
sixty-five percent of libraries nationwide have chosen to add filters voluntarily as complaints from parents and patrons have increased. illinois does not require internet access filtering for schools or libraries.
this past spring, state representative kevin joyce (d-chicago) introduced legislation which would have required public libraries to filter internet access. the legislation met strong resistance from the aclu, illinois librarians and the state�s pta, and failed to get out of committee.
state representative linda chapa-lavia (d-aurora) sponsored the legislation first proposed by the governor last december. the eola public library is in chapa-lavia�s district.
�it would be great if representative chapa-lavia helped to get filters on the eola public library�s computers,� david smith, senior policy analyst for illinois family institute said tuesday. �for years, we�ve been pushing for filtering legislation. maybe with the governor�s help, there�s a chance we can protect kids in libraries, too.�
blagojevich, who is the father of two young daughters, told onlookers gathered in the children�s library his reasons for pushing for the ban on video game sales.
when a kid plays the video game, he�s not a spectator - he�s a participant, the governor said.
"he�s the one who uses the joystick and the keyboard. he�s the one who takes crack cocaine and feels the video controller simulate what it�s like to be on drugs. he�s the one who engages in simulated sex," the governor said.
"he cuts someone�s head off and makes blood spurt from the neck. he�s the killer who laughs at the victim and makes crude sexual comments after being with a prostitute. and, incidentally, he gets extra credit for doing it," he said.
blagojevich said that for the same reason children under 18 aren't allowed buy pornography, cigarettes and alcohol, they shouldn�t be allowed to buy video games that teach them to do illegal activities.
the new law, which will go into effect january 1, 2006, will face certain challenge in court, the illinois retail merchants association announced monday afternoon. similar bans have been declared unconstitutional in other states.
�this law has already been proven unconstitutional and unnecessary. now the state will likely spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer�s money to defend a law that courts are almost certain to strike down,� said irma president & ceo david f. vite.
�parents should decide the types of games which are appropriate for their children. the state of illinois should not be requiring retailers to act as surrogate parents.�
anyone who thinks like that doesn't understand how tough it is to be a parent these days, cwa director valente said.
�the fact is parents can�t be everywhere their kids are these days,� she said. �adults in the community need to take some responsibility for the things they expose our children to - be it in stores or the local library.�
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