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« Amplification | Main | Sacred ground »

Aug 08, 2010


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Censorship. How long till the bible beaters of Greensboro deem something else unworthy of its citizens eyes? Perhaps the Baptists will step in and require blocking of "evolution" type material too?

They've taken down the sign at the 421 strip club, ran the porn house out of town on High Point road. Where are honest people supposed to get "off" anymore?

For the record, I've never have watched porn... but it's a much better alternative to cheating on one's wife or husband IMHO....

sean coon

i'm sure your caveat is "at home," liv, and not the library. be careful here. that type of unqualified statement is blood in the water to some folks.

Account Deleted

since we're in the territory of the ludicrous now with the comments, why not have two sets of computers.

One can be in a nice, family friendly area of the library, say right outside the children section downstairs. This area will block all aspects of porn, social media and games and be solely for academic or intellectual pursuits. This would include art research but we would block pics of David and Venus and make folks get a book, etc.

The second area can be upstairs and be a complete free for all regardless of how many bodily fluids are involved. We can put plastic covers on the keyboards and have plenty of hand sanitizer and wet wipes on demand. We could put up cubicles and sound barriers so library staff coming to and fro the administrative offices won't have to be exposed to the human baseness of it all.

We could even provide changes of clothes, like jail jumpers, so the pervs won't have to walk around with stained clothes.

We would also pass a law requiring them to wash their hands after each use, kind of like the signs in restaurant bathrooms.

alternatively we could build a library annex for computer users and put the pervs and social media users there.


I'm ducking out of here before Michele swoops in, talons extended.

Ed Cone

Calling people names is not helpful or appreciated, Liv.

Censorship: this involves control of information by a government entity, so you can't just shrug it off. But filtering porn does not seem to me to be suppression of speech. The publishers will still publish, and there will be an ample market for their work. This is about sharing a public space that is open to all people. Maybe a noise ordinance is a not-terrible analogy.


Falsely accusing people of saying things they never said and then refusing to admit you were wrong also isn't helpful.

Account Deleted

Weak attempts at wit aside, I do think that there should be computers set aside for academic use only. Folks doing research generally are dialed in and want to get the info and move on to the stacks or the next aspect of their research.

Waiting for someone to check their facebook, watch a teevee episode or whatever other aspect of entertainment they desire is not in accordance with the purpose of a library IMHO.

Noise ordinances were traditionally created to protect the "quiet, comfort and repose of" a person in their domicile. So I think the separate but equal access argument may be viable in terms of what is the purpose of computers at public libraries.

domicile = academic pursuit at library

noise = social media and entertainment aspect of computers at library

I'm just following your analogy, FWIW.

City hall and lots of corporations block social media and entertainment sites because they detract from the purpose of the computer in those settings. I am not for censorship, but I am also against the intellectual degradation of our culture.


JR's source is inaccurate. Remove the duplicate incident reports and it's 190, not 200. And why does it annoy me that the editor of the local paper writes a blog post about this topic and fails to link to any of the informative posts on other blogs about this? And why did Amanda's story on his get bumped from most-widely read Sunday to least-read Monday?


@Jeff, I'll go with "set some computer connections aside for academic use only" and then watch the fireworks when we define what that means. Libraries are indeed for recreational reading; why NOT for recreational browsing (like watching a TV episode or checking sports scores and the like)? You could BUY a book. You could BUY a cable TV connection. If you can afford it. Some can't. Even if they can, recreational reading and browsing in a library go hand-in-hand, IMHO.

Just like "the Internet" was 10-20 years ago (a frivolous pursuit), so is social media now. Some don't see the value; others use it as a tool every day. In the near future, more people won't know how they got along without it. (It's like having 2 monitors; until you have 2, you don't know how you got along with only one.)

I think you were being a little sarcastic above but having a raucous public square has only moved us forward, not degraded our culture intellectually. It's the space for the single voice, whether we agree with it or not. It's the 2000s soapbox. It's so very American - IMNSHO.


I don't think the "defense of filters" is serious. It's author says "porn" is anything that makes her cringe.

Michele Forrest

CP: I was already laughing at Liv's comment. Then, that changed to "out loud" at Jeffrey's. Best, so far. And I love that Sam never gives up. He is Rocky. My favorite.

Roch: I said nasty stuff that makes me cringe. Sometimes stupid stuff makes me cringe, too, but in a different way.

Ed Cone

I would disagree with Michele's list of things that should be filtered, but her actual defense of filtering technology is a less subjective matter.

She says she has used home versions that work well, and which seem to circumvent some of the reported problems with filters. A thorough look at filtering options would include some analysis that shows how her experience is or is not directly relevant to the problems of filtering at the library.

Michele Forrest

Thanks, Ed. :) I think I read somewhere the number of computers that the library has. Anybody remember where that is or what that number was? Just for fun, I wanted to multiply that by the cost for the small business filter for the company we used. Based on what Sue said, it wouldn't work, because it's a software filter, not a hardware filter (I think, it says server-based?), but I wanted to see how crazy the price ended up being, just for that one. I know, it may have no relationship to the kind of filter the library could actually use.

Account Deleted

Sandy told Roch and I the following when we interviewed her earlier this year for Google Wi-Fi:

The system has 200 computers, 105 on location at the main library.
In 2009 they served 264,000 cpu users.

About 2.8 million visits to the library and 790,000 visits to the library website. The library circulated about 1.5 million pieces of material in 2009.

Michele Forrest

sean said: "'at home,'... not the library."

Exactly. That's really the bottom line of this whole thing. Your private business is your private business. What you do at home is up to you. But what you force on somebody else in public is a whole different story.

Someone I love, who is a porn fan, said, "Buy your own computer if you want to look at porn!" Well, amen to that.

So what if you can't afford one? Well, that sucks, but should taxpayers be subsidizing porn viewing for the poor? Ah, obviously, NO. (Although they are inadvertently subsidizing a whole lot of alcoholism and addiction. I mean, so much... But I don't agree with that, either, and that's a different drama...)

And when we get to taxpayer-funded, making-your-neighbor-at-the-library-watch-you-watch-it porn, I'd said the "community standards" on that should be fairly restrictive. Again, in private? Knock yourself out. It's America. And we all get to answer to God individually about the stupid stuff we do. We all have our own stuff.

Michele Forrest

@Jeffrey, thanks. So at the small business rate, it would be $4686.65 for the kind of filter we used, that blocked bad stuff, allowed good stuff, and sites could be unblocked by admins. But again, I don't know if that filter would work based on what Sue said. Is $4686.65 per year too much? It's less than I thought. But a commercial filter might be more.

Also, I just talked to a friend who stopped looking at porn online because of all the computer viruses that came along with it. How is the library dealing with that?


"porn fan". Nice. I suppose there are "hardcore" fans (pun very much intended), "casual" fans, "not a big fan" fans, and those who don't care for stick and ball sports at all (pun not intended).

Ed Cone

Porn fans were pretty much obsoleted by the introduction of air conditioning, weren't they?

Michele Forrest

I shared a link to my blog post on Facebook, and so, since then, I've chatted online and talked on the phone with some people about the library thing. And the "porn fan" I referred to started the conversation by saying, "I love porn." Hence my reference to "porn fan." But when I explained about the library and the public nature of it, the friend said, "Well obviously, you filter that. Don't they already do that?" So if porn lovers think that... (P.S. Yes, I love people who love porn, even though I think it's nasty. See y'all, I don't drink Haterade. Kumbaya.)

Michele Forrest

P.P.S. Sam and Ed just made jokes and didn't fight. Kumbaya squared.

Ed Cone

I don't see much public support for the idea of unfettered access to porn at public libraries, nor is unfettered access the current policy at the GSO libraries.

What's at issue is the best way to address public porn surfing.

Opposing it does not necessarily equal support for filters.

Understanding the scope of the problem, and the costs and benefits of various solutions, is the task at hand.


It is ludicrous to have pretend to be having a serious discussion of filtering porn when everyone skips the necessary step of explaining what they mean by "porn." It is not a trivial thing, but skipping it makes for trivial discussion.

Ed Cone

Roch, I tried to address that subject a bit in this post.

It was interesting that of the four images posted the advertisement seemed the most risque and objectionable to some readers.


Why don't you lead that discussion Roch? Show all those ludicrous trivial pretenders that light that you radiate.

Michele Forrest

I gave a real, honest answer. I can't give a better one. I don't think it was all that helpful to Roch, but it was truthful.


Roch - Whatever the definition, we might want to do away with the idea that we can eliminate the problem 100% by trying to think of every possible way in which someone can access porn via the internet. I personally think that patron awareness and Lankford Security along with reasonable measures to exclude obvious porn sites from opening is a pretty good combination. It's not perfect, but since when is any solution perfect. The more I think about this, the less of a problem, I think we have. I could be swayed that the penalties could be more severe.


Michele, we all get it. So let's play a little game of "It Just Might Be Porn" for those in the cheap seats:

It was made/filmed/shot in the San Fernando Valley, it just might be porn...

If the women has at least one tattoo, it just might be porn...

If there is a woman wearing shoes and nothing else, it just might be porn...

Y'all can take it from here.

Ed Cone

Possibly too stringent, based on the current prevalence of tattoos, but a good start.

I think we have a pretty good sense of what we're talking about when we talk about porn in the library.


Adding the word "obvious" to "porn" does not bring any clarity. I want to know, and I think the public deserves to know as well, just what it is the people pushing for "porn" filters intend to block. Michelle is arguing in favor of filters and says that the best she can do in explaining what she wants to prohibit other adults from seeing is anything "nasty" that makes HER cringe. Well, that cannot be taken seriously. No porn filters are going to be constructed by that criteria. So whose next?

Danny Thompson also has yet to define porn, although I've asked him to. Joe Guarnio previously referred to a dictionary definition that described words or images depicting sexual intercourse. While that is at least an honest and substantive explanation, I think most of Greensboro would disagree that the library should block internet access to everything that depicts sexual intercourse.

So excuse me for not wanting to put the cart before the horse and assume that we are all have a common understanding of what it is we are talking about blocking. We do not and I think it is incumbent upon those advocating for censorship to make it clear what criteria they expect to be applied in blocking adults' access to materials.


Ooops, I did it again. Sorry, Michele.

Brandon Burgess

Roch has a point. Should folks be allowed to watch R-rated movied in the library?

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