Just Give It To Me Straight: A Case Against Filtering the Internet

Seth Finkelstein writes "Here's an exellent recent paper opposing censorware:

Just Give It To Me Straight
: A Case Against Filtering the Internet, by T. A. Callister, Jr. Whitman College and
Nicholas C. Burbules University of Illinois"

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I've Seen the Filterers and They are Us

As a newbie to this board, I am sure this issue of filtering has been bantered. Perhaps to death. However, as your post was the first I came across regarding filtering I had to reply. Here goes.My problem with the filtering debate is the way it has been cleverly massaged into an issue of "censorship". (Ah, I hear the hush envelope the room as hands are placed on chests and jaws drop like the cargo bay of a C 141 Starlifter)We as librarians are the chief architects of censorship! We've been doing this for years under the gentle, publicly palatable tool known as a collection development policy. Innocuous in name, this document serves to codify "censorship".When discussing the cruelty of filters, I read the tired old examples of how legitimate sites, e.g. breast cancer, are smashed by big brother's size 54 jackboot. Maybe this happens. Maybe it doesn't The larger issue I have is portraying to the public that libraries have always provided full and open access. Baloney.Think way back to the pre-web days of the 1980's. "Excuse me Mr. Librarian, I am looking for information about how to join the local chapter of the KU KLUX KLAN. Could you also direct me to your Birch Society collection and any information on how to grow pot in my basement. Oh and any materials on the benefits of polygamy would be great too.You laugh perhaps but the truth is that materials on these subjects have always been available in print for purchase, not to mention donated. Why didn't libraries buy them. Why don't libraries buy them today? I am sure a good deal of male patrons would love to have Penthouse on the shelf.Censorship is alive and well. And so be it. As an academic library director I do it often. But we all do!!!!Filtering is not necessarily the answer, but it is certainly not the problem. Filters haven't removed one piece of material from a library collection. What about the benefits of filters?? Any chance that these things may actually work sometimes???Portraying filters as somehow breaking a sacred covenant with public is disingenuous.Let's stop the hyperbole!
   

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