Don't Restrict Adults to Protect Kids

(Originally posted on The Agonist.)

There are few cases addressing whether libraries may block patrons’ access to portions of the Internet. An ACLU of Washington case that will be before the Washington State Supreme Court this spring raises this issue, and is a case to watch. We recently filed our brief in the case, and just received word that the Court will hear argument on June 23.

At stake is whether libraries are free to use Internet filtering software to block adults’ access to constitutionally protected speech. The defendant, a consortium of 23 public libraries, has a policy of blocking access to all speech it considers inappropriate for children. One of our clients, the gun rights group the Second Amendment Foundation, joined the lawsuit because the libraries went so far as to block all websites about firearms, including one of the advocacy organization’s own websites.

In the name of protecting kids, the library has blocked access to a great deal of speech that is indisputably protected by both the Washington and federal constitutions. Other clients in the case are adult patrons of the libraries whose efforts to do research online have been frustrated by the libraries’ filter. For example, Sarah Bradburn was prevented from accessing websites about youth tobacco usage that she needed to complete a school assignment.

What our clients want the library to do is to honor requests by adult patrons to turn off the filter to allow sessions of uncensored reading and research. This case is not about whether libraries have to allow children to access all of the Internet. It is also not about whether libraries can have filtering be the default at computer terminals. Nor is this a case about materials that are obscene—no one is challenging the libraries’ right to prohibit access to this content, which is already against the law. The only question in this case is whether patrons can request that the filter be temporarily turned off so they can access protected speech.

Our argument is straightforward: it is impermissible for libraries to reduce adults to reading only what is appropriate for children. A half century ago, the United States Supreme Court held in Butler v. Michigan that government may not “reduce the adult population . . . to reading only what is fit for children.” On that ground, the Court invalidated a conviction under a Michigan law that criminalized the distribution of literature that could have “a potentially deleterious influence upon youth.”

The Washington State Supreme Court has been asked to rule on the basis of the Washington State Constitution, but we think the same principle applies. Libraries are supposed to facilitate patrons’ own efforts to broaden their horizons, not limit patrons to approved topics. Libraries must disable the filter at the request of adults to allow them to access protected speech.

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Paen

I wish that the thought police and the religious fanatics would stop using kids
as an excuse to trample on the rights of other adults.

k

Let's just remember that 18 yr olds are adults, not just 21 and older, regardless of wether or not they are still in school.

bo

I belive in free speech but when pornography can be planted any where on any web then it is very wrong because children should not be restricted from church, coummuity, schools ect web sites unless a parent is standing there to make sure there has not been any run into what they are looking for. blockers may keep kids from some but I do know not all. I have found some that has nothing at all in the name about sex. We need the government to put tight restrictions on that type of thing or some day a child will never be allowed on the internet. We wonder why kids today are engaging in oral sex ect. and I'm not a prude but we need to protect our children and teach them so maybe they can have a solid relationship and grow up before they have children of there own or get aids or v.d. And what about kids who have been born to people who are not responsible parents? do we not care about them? It takes a commuity to raise a child. Or what about the sites that parents can't block out. Free speech is not showing genitals, oral sex, three sums, It is exspressing your with word,

Martha

what dumb adult would want the blockers taken off the internet at libraries? Why don't you people grow up and look around at the mess you are causing for people,
why don't you fight for something worth while like getting porn. off the internet and quit acting as those people have something to say,

anonymous

"I wish that the thought police and the religious fanatics would stop using kids as an excuse to trample on the rights of other adults."

NO one should harm a child in any way, but until others are willing to stand up to those who for some reason are invested in using the children as a weapon against society in various ways our constitution will be very meaningless.

Our constitution is suppose to and meant to give us all the same and equal rights especially our first amendment rights, but all you have to do in order to invalidate what another person says is to try to make it look as if they have harmed a child in some way if they have or not, or that they might be willing to just because they stand up for the right to a fair trial for everyone and freedom of speech issues or such things. It is so easy to do these days.

All you really have to do is to say someone harmed a child in some way, esepcially the hot button is they s*xually abused them, and no I am not saying that is okay it isn't. Even if it is not a fact and then there goes their reputation and this can also be done in many other ways. After all who is going to want to listen to a person like that?

Every thing else that person says will be tinged by that ugly emotion that wells up inside of every single person when they merely think of something like that. Harming a child in any way is despicable and horrific, the image works whether true or not. It will color and flavor everything else that a person reads from or about that person from then on if they write it or another writes it about them. There are certainly those that don't care to use that as a tactic.

You can not stand up for the constitutional rights of the people that America says it stands for and holds dear any more and that is really a shame. The following is a comment I made in a newspaper article.

What is in qoutes is what someone else said about someone that hasn't even had a fair trial yet. Their attorney doesn't even know what is going on so they may still yet be found innocent, unless, too many ignorant people jump on the bandwagon and won't allow the facts to actually be found. Our justice system was never meant to be that way GUILTY until found INNOCENT.

It was made to make sure that all people were presumed innocent until factually found guilty in a court of law with a jury and with decent representation, if there was enough facts to find a person guilty. That isn't how the system works, it works more like the following:

"This slumbag should be locked up for life." What a name to call someone that you don't even know??? "A politican???" He must be fairly well liked by many people, respected and all of that, that doesn't mean that he didn't do it, but it doesn't mean that he did either???

That is one point, how some people will jump to their very own conclusions about anything so easily, he may be guilty as heck who knows, surely not us yet if that hasn't been found out for sure, but already some people have him guilty!

"What a laugh" I don't see anything funny about it, this is going to affect this man's life and surely if he did it his victims, but if he didn't do it who knows even who all it may affect, it has multitudes of ways to affect innocent people maybe some for the good and some maybe even for the bad or wrong reasons.

"He should be kicked to the moon with no return." If he did it, but that is where they are getting ready to send everyone when the global disaster comes, isn't it?

Then someone said to me:

"Taking into consideration how vehemently you are defending him, maybe you're guilt of similar crimes? Similar urges?

If it were you, your child, your parent, your friend that was sodomized in the emergency room would you feel the same way?

Quit trolling for a response unless you really want one."

Then this was the comment I made back to them:

"Taking into consideration how vehemently you are defending him, maybe you're guilt of similar crimes? Similar urges?" Perhaps you are actually off the wall crazy????

I think in this country everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, don't you? I defend people because sometimes the principles need to be defended, you see you know no more about me than anything.

I don't know what he has done any more than you do. Unless it was you that he did it too? Was it you that he did it too?

"If it were you, your child, your parent, your friend that was sodomized in the emergency room would you feel the same way?" NO, however this doesn't say anything about an emergency room so where did you get that from? Have you read it some place? I didn't say this was a right thing to do.

"...attorney, said Tuesday that he had not seen the indictment and could not comment." If he doesn't know anything yet, then how can you?

Yet, the bandwagon has started, the smear was made. In a forum where hundreds of people can read it. What can I do? Nothing, suck it up and keep writing, keep trying to get people to understand and change, but I didn't say this man or me should or would or did or wanted to do this.

All I said was I don't know and it isn't nice to make people guilty if they are not, there are people that will do that though.

One day those people might end up finding out what that feels like if they don't stop soon. It might be them, their family member, their friend, their neighbor that they really thought the world of that is the one being accused and they know it isn't so, but there are enough people just like them to make it so if it is so or not, you see? If you won't defend the right for every person to have a fair and constitutional trial then what is the use of the constitution?

If you try to stand up for what is right, for our constitution, there will be someone that will point an accusing finger at you or try to put you in a bad position in one way or the other, and it is certainly easy to do these days and get away with too. That is the fact and I don't know how to change it?

If no one will stand up for the truth! If no one will stand up for the first amendment! If no one will stand up for all people's rights to be found innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt! Then our constitution becomes no more than a dead document!

When we celebrate the fourth of July I am not sure what people are really celebrating, having a day off of work I suppose? If we let the constitution die, then it will mean little more than that, a peice of paper a dead document.

Funny thing, I tried to post this and Captcha got it, and I am wondering why that was it certainly didn't say a thing wrong. It is the thoughts that count isn't it? What is freedom of speech?

anonymous

So much for freedom of speech, even the ACLU doesn't really support it.

anonymous

The issue is what would be filtered and what would not, the reasons for it, what you do to protect society and freedom and how you do it and how it can be misused. If you can't see what the real issues are, then you might as well say bye bye to the first amendment. If the only voices that you want heard are yours and those that you agree with then you really are not sticking up for the constitution in the first place. That is what I think.

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