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Aug 18, 2010


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Joe Guarino



<sarcasm>10 to 1 he doesn't go to a real church.</sarcasm>


It would be another fiasco/disaster/catastrophe. Let Charlotte and Raleigh deal with those types.

Joe Guarino

I think Mr. Allen's ideological predilections became pretty clear last night. His repeated straining to make the case that there was no emergency at the library was tiresome. The issue is not whether there is an emergency. The issue is whether inappropriate activity taking place, facilitated by library staff, that is preventable.

And yes, there is.


Kind of like building a mosque near ground zero.

Where did all of that religious tolerance go?


Not quite, Joe. The issue is what is the best course of action to address inappropriate actions. Reasonable, educated and moral people disagree that the best way is to preemptively deprive all responsible adults of the liberty to choose for themselves what to view.

Technology is in place that diminishes the possibility of people purposefully viewing explicit and graphic depictions of sex acts. Procedures and policies are in place to deal with those who do so. In addition, council had a chance last night to add more restrictions to computers in the children's section, more restrictions library-wide for all minors and a more restrictive option for adults who choose it. Thompson did not choose this option because he wants to treat all adults as if they are children and his colleagues (rightfully gauging public sentiment, in my opinion) do not agree that that is the best approach.

BTW, Joe, I'm not sure if you saw it on another thread, but I asked you if you thought these sites blocked by the Mecklenberg library are porn.


Cue Elmer Gantry

Joe Guarino

Roch, the technology that is in place will frustrate the impatient user; but it will not deter those that are patient. It only slows; it does not block. The system's approach is otherwise reactive, not proactive.

I do not have a problem with blocking the sites you mention if the intent is to protect minors from inappropriate sites. As was discussed last night, a mechanism would be put in place to evaluate questionable sites in the event a filter is used. This is undoubtedly what Raleigh and Charlotte does, and it is no big deal. The library staff would then unblock.

The same type of process Neerman uses to evaluate print materials would also be used to evaluate questionable websites, only hopefully in a quicker and more streamlined manner. (That, of course, would be a management issue, and it was clear Neerman wanted library staff to have virtually no part of it.)

I think, as a general rule, that those who tend toward moral relativism tend to be OK with what the city council did last night.

Brandon Burgess

Raleigh and Charlotte have it so why shouldn't Greensboro?

Where have I heard that before?


The last time we were discussing professional sports teams.


So Joe's point of view is absolute, and everyone else is wrong.

Ed Cone

It's morally relativistic to decide that one value trumps all other values involved in this issue, and that an imperfect solution to what may not be a very large problem is worth any costs of implementation.

Put another way, it's a judgment call.

People of good faith and sound judgment can disagree about the right answer, and some of them can even do so without questioning the good faith and sound judgment of anyone who might disagree with them.

Joe Guarino

That is not quite the message, Brandon.

Instead, we have people throwing their hands up in the air, indicating the sky would be falling if we have filters, and claiming how unworkable it would be. But in fact, two nearby metro areas are using filters. They would not do so if it was not workable to do so; and the sky does not yet appear to be falling.


"I do not have a problem with blocking the sites you mention if the intent is to protect minors from inappropriate sites." -- Joe

I am not sure I follow you, Joe. Are you saying it is OK if those sites are not porn but it is ok if they get blocked as a result of the intent to protect minors or are you saying that those sites should be intentionally blocked to protect minors?


"Instead, we have people throwing their hands up in the air, indicating the sky would be falling if we have filters, and claiming how unworkable it would be." -- Joe

I'm not sure about that. What I've seen is people saying, let's filter the children's section, let's filter minor's access and let's give the option to responsible adults. That doesn't sound like what you describe, Joe.


Joe, I fumbled my comment of 3:03. More clearly:

I am not sure I follow you, Joe. Are you saying those sites are not porn but it is ok if they get blocked as a result of the intent to protect minors or are you saying that those sites should be intentionally blocked to protect minors?

Joe Guarino

Again, we need to revisit the definition of relativism in order to understand what it is. According to Princeton University: the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved. That is what happened last night, and that is what many are advocating.

Roch, I am saying the former, and some of these sites might get unblocked very quickly by library staff if you had a library director who was determined to make filters workable. But she is not.

Filtering the children's section only is insufficient. Other minors-- teens and adolescents- doubtless use the computers in the adult section. They might see what is going on with monitors used by other people. And filtering only the children's section does not resolve the problem of tax dollars being used to surf for porn.

Again, moral relativism is what underlies opposition to filters.


All you freedom fighters still cool with a little throttle before you throttle? A little time-tease foreplay makes it all worth the wait. Oooooo, baby, make me want it!

Ed Cone

Joe, not to chase too far down this path, but nobody I heard took a relativistic view of porn on library computers. They were disputing the best method of dealing with something they all agreed was not good.


That's what I'm talking about. A potential audience makes it that much more fun.

On an _independent note - I don't agree with last night's outcome. Whatever all this 'moral relativism' stuff, just put the (fallible) filters in already. Print vs. electronic, same thing. Something is better than nothing.

sean coon

joe, "many sites" is a long tail stretching into the billions on the web. the cost of managing an ongoing submission process (which includes the process of clearing sites one by one against a yet to be vetted and determined standard and why roch's original point of "how do you define porn?" was so valid) and the cost to patrons of not having immediate or even within a week's time turnaround to necessary access of non-porn, is what i'd guess the staff is weighing.

so either you can explicitly define what's viewable by patrons, on numerous levels so the staff can work with patrons to allow access to "non-porn," or you can't advocate for the "unblocking" approach. because you know as well as we do that if the staff puts their definition into play, you'd cry moral relativism at every turn if "questionable" art or information about sex, etc. made it through.


Dan, I'm afraid that's not the way it works, you sweet simple-minded boy. Something is not necessarily better than nothing. Or at least something is not better than Something Lite. It all depends on who's doing the something.

Nice librarian lady + SLOW porn= GOOD
Mean republican council man + STOP SAME porn= BAD


CP is the new ruler.


CP ya'll can invoke/retread Thompson vs. Cone ad nauseum...I could care less. If simple-minded is filtering the noise down to what really matters, great. Funnily enough, my son checked out "Boy" by Roald Dahl from the library just yesterday. He likes it so far. We didn't use the computer.


Educated professional + slow porn + use policy + additional policing + penalties for violators = GOOD

Reactionary council person + depriving adults of choice + depriving adults of responsibility + blocking access to legitimate content = BAD

Joe Guarino

Ed, you said "They were disputing the best method of dealing with something they all agreed was not good."

I wish it were that simple. If they agreed it was not good, and agreed with the moral imperative to fix the problem as best they could, they would have done so. But they did not agree with the moral imperative to fix the problem-- so they are relativists.

They allowed a number of secondary issues, of lesser importance, undermine the effort to fix the problem to the greatest extent possible-- while minimizing effects on appropriate uses of the internet.


Back to the apples to apples department,

Educated professional + slow porn + use policy + additional policing + penalties for violators = GOOD

Educated professional + stop same porn + use policy +/- additional policing + penalties for violators =BAD?

But yeah, let's bring in some extra porn police instead. That way we won't have to waste any money or resources.


Don't forget the morality police, as well.

Ed Cone

Joe, you believe that the particular solution you favor is the best one, and that other considerations are minor. But this is not an arithmetic problem, it's a judgment call. You are setting up your favored solution as the one, obvious moral answer.

I believe the people who spoke last night when they say they oppose porn on library computers.

I can tell you for sure that I don't think porn belongs on library computers.

I hold that belief as a taxpayer, a husband and father, and a member of a community I share with many others, including you.

Yet I think the solutions now in place may be the best of an imperfect lot.

I don't think that's any more relativistic than your privileging of one value over others, but I credit you with being sincere in your belief, as I am in mine and, I think, the speakers last night were as well.

sean coon

but ed, joe gets his morals from a credible source. you know, there can only be one.


"I can tell you for sure that I don't think porn belongs on library computers. "

After umpteen threads arguing every posssible angle against any proposal or proposer for a tougher policy than we have in place, one which passively acknowledges access to porn on library computers?????????????????????????????????????????

I'm retiring. I'm done trying to figure you people out.

Joe Guarino

Sean, there should be a systematic way of dealing with the question of when to unblock. Remember that there was discussion of filters used in libraries across the nation. Other smart people have figured out ways of dealing with these issues. I am fully convinced that the people of Greensboro are smart enough to do so. The question is whether they want to.

Joe Guarino

Ed, I also believe that many of the people who spoke last night were sincere with their relativism.

I don't see any objective basis for the premise that the solutions currently in place are the best that can be offered. The porn is still getting through, and we have not done nearly all we can do.

sean coon

no, joe, that's not the question. you have this consuming desire for immediate resolution, how you see it needing to work, otherwise the GPL staff and city council doesn't "want to" find a solution.

have you ever thought that maybe other libraries have rushed to implementation with not-so satisfying results? couldn't you extend the benefit of doubt that these people, our neighbors, aren't monsters trying to ruin young minds and are working on coming up with something that works for *this* community?

Ed Cone

Joe, some porn could still get through filters, and filters won't stop images via email or social networks. So we're all talking about reducing access to porn, not completely eliminating it.

And filters might impinge on another core value at a public library, access to information. You hold that value to be relatively less important than I do (I don't feel morally superior to you for your relativism).

In any case, a strong majority rejected the filtering motion, based on current knowledge. We are now doing what we should have done from the start -- gathering information on the scope of the problem, and the effectiveness of the recently-implemented methods of dealing with it.


"I can tell you for sure that I don't think porn belongs on library computers."

That must put you at odds with Roch who seems to believe based on his equation (Reactionary council person + depriving adults of choice + depriving adults of responsibility + blocking access to legitimate content = BAD) that depriving adults of the choice and "responsibility" of viewing porn at the library is a bad thing. Otherwise, he needs to remove those from his equation which is pretty much reduced to "Danny Thompson = BAD"..

Which leads to CP's grave error. The discussion was never meant to be about filters. Hence all the contradictions and incoherency. It was meant to be an attack on Danny Thompson. I said that from the outset and I think that events have made it pretty clear I was right.

Think about it. First it was grandstanding over something that was no big deal. Yet, how many posts have been made about it? How much time has the City Council spent on it? How many reports in the N&R and Rhino and YES! have there been about it? Danny was supposed to be "grandstanding" and wasting everyone's time with a big non-issue. Yet here we are.

There really isn't much to figure out. It's just the same bunch of partisan/ideological games that are always played here. The repeated denials only add to the humor of the situation.

Joe Guarino

Sean, is there any objective basis for the premise that *this* community is significantly different than the hundreds of other cities across the nation with respect to the technical and practical aspects of implementing the use of internet filters? Of course not.

Ed, users would continue to have access to the vast majority of information available on the internet with filters. While they are not perfect, they represent a good faith effort, which we have not seen in Greensboro as of yet. I don't regard what has been done as a good faith effort-- not even remotely. The ideology of free access to internet information trumps safety and what is morally right-- even while the besainted Sandy filters print materials headed for the stacks.

We have not even gotten into the issue of how pornography harms minors, and also can harm adults. We have not even gotten into the issue of how it objectifies women, which is apparently of little concern in the Politically Virtuous City.

I agree, Sam.

Ed Cone

Nah, it's always been about the best way to deal with content at the library.

The problem with Thompson's poor presentation two weeks ago -- which Sam keeps dredging up so often that one wonders what he has against poor Danny -- is that it was long on drama and thin on facts.

That does not mean the underlying issue was not open for discussion, and it has in fact been discussed here and elsewhere before Thompson was even elected to the Council.


Nah, it's been about your accusations about what Danny supposedly said and your inability to admit you were wrong. What I really continue to dredge up is your refusal to answer a few simple questions about Danny's "poor presentation". If you are so convinced you are right about it, maybe some day you will answer them or explain why you can't.

Your presentation was the poor one with the "thin facts", and your continued refusal to answer those simple questions only highlights that even more.

The "Sam keeps bringing up Danny" spin is a nice attempt at diversion, but really it's "Sam keeps bringing up Ed's refusal do defend what he said about Danny".

I have nothing against Danny; it's your ego we have to worry about.

Tell us, why won't you answer the questions, Ed? They are simply YES/NO ADMIT/DENY.

Joe Guarino

I am not sure that what Danny Thompson did, or what he didn't do, is the most important issue. The six council members who voted to continue the access to porn-- Perkins, Matheny, Vaughan, Rakestraw, Kee and Bellamy-Small-- had an obligation to do the right thing regardless of whatever Thompson did or did not do. Those six council members are the moral relativists on this matter, not Thompson.

Regardless of whatever one thinks about what Thompson did, it took a lot of guts. It demonstrated a lot of courage. He is not perfect, as none of us are. But he was swimming against the tide, and ultimately the relativists won.

Meanwhile, the News and Record completely misrepresented in the paper this morning, in its lead paragraph, the vote that was taken. I see little outrage about that.

sean coon

joe, if you would, please square your reference to scripture:

"He is not perfect, as none of us are."

with your blatant attack of the character of one of your neighbors:

"[...] it is pretty silly that this has to be an issue, but ... we have a liberal library director."

you know, whenever you have a chance.


Was not the final vote 9-0. Why didn't Mr. Thompson vote "nay".

There is wi-fi access in the library, no? Who pays for the wi-fi access? Should we blocking people from using the wi-fi in a public building to view pornography? See the slippery slope.

There isn't a perfect solution here. There is no immediacy to stop a perceived threat. It's likely there are issues that other cities are dealing with because they have filters. We've got to get out of this - "because Charlotte and Raleigh do it so we should too" - mode of thinking. What if what the GPL library is doing already is better than what Charlotte and Raleigh are doing?

I'm curious as to why people think it is the Library's job to prevent people from viewing porn? Where is the parental role? The taxpayer dollar issue is ridiculous because we all pay taxes for things we would rather not pay for. I thought conservatives didn't want the government (GPL) telling us what we can and can not do. The role of the library is to provide access to information. Period. It is not the job of the library to police morals that aren't universally shared.

I think more information about the websites visited will be interesting and nothing else, because it still won't give us an accurate read on how many people are viewing pornography via social media. And how many guys are reading porno mags in the library that are inserted into Harper's or the Atlantic or Vogue? Can we get some numbers on that too please?

Joe Guarino

A simple statement of fact is not an attack. But when public officials do the wrong things, they need to be held accountable.

sean coon

nice try, joe. that statement of "fact" is steeped in your context that this liberal woman is purposefully attempting to influence the minds of young people by "allowing" them access to porn, when the reality of the matter is that she is trying to do right by all her constituents.

you should read your bible more closely.


Dwarf logic is a little spotty, isn't it?

Joe Guarino

Regardless of the objectives she claims to have, they do not eliminate the reality that she wants to keep access open to pornography. That is an inevitable conclusion to be drawn. Again, we can engage in relativism, and try to justify it, but that is the reality.

Joe Guarino

Glen, the libraries should be safe places for teens and adolescents to go without their parents. When I was a teen and adolescent, it was not necessary for my parents to accompany me to the public library.

The focus on Charlotte and Raleigh is somewhat unfortunate, but it reflects our North Carolina perspective. In fact, as I mentioned before, filters are used in public libraries across the nation. There is nothing novel with this discussion-- it has replayed many times over as conscientious communities elsewhere try to do the right thing.

The final vote was taken after the relativistic six had already voted down filters.


Nanny state is OK if you're legislating morals. Where do I go to join the judgemental moralistic mutual admiration society?


Joe - sure they should be safe - to what extent do we go to make that the case? Reasonable measures are in place. I want downtown to be safe, but I don't advocate putting police and video cameras at every corner. I would suggest that the library is a very safe place. How many of the incidents were of older people showing porn to young people?

sean coon

joe, you still don't seem to want to address the line that designates pornographic from non-pornographic media.

we all know that sexual images or video, in any form, is porn. but what about a judy bloom short story? what about a photo by maplethorpe?

the line separating good & bad, or the methodology for establishing this line, has to be explicit as code, which isn't moralistic. beyond blocking access to hardcore internet porn, the GPL staff can't be moralistic in their work, as all of our morals vary.

so if you refuse to engage in this line of reasoning, there's no way to expect that even with a filter in play you'd ever agree with the call library staff makes for excluding web sites on an ongoing basis from filtering. this all becomes your short-term play to get a moralistic "win" -- get the filter installed and screw the needs of other citizens, including people who might not have access to the internet, let alone a computer, in their own homes (if they have homes).

essentially, you've reduced yourself to being a "moralistic, evangelical, conservative, me-first local blogger," in similar fashion to how you reduced neerman. just a statement of fact.

i submit to you that this paradoxical situation you find yourself within is exactly why you should give the GPL the benefit of the doubt.

the real difference between you and neerman is that she's charged with making decisions that serve a vast number of people, not explicit notions derived from the good book that personally joe guarino.

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