Pornography at library?


A hot debate comes to a peak in Owosso. The question, should computers at a public library have unfiltered internet access?

The debate got started when a 10-year-old girl told her grandmother she saw a man viewing adult material at a library computer.

Some say, adults should be able to access unfiltered internet at the library.

Others say, it's an issue of child safety, and they don't want their tax dollars paying for porn.

Read the full story here.


Absolutely there should be filtered software on the computers at the library and not allow porn to be viewed. You don't have porn magazines at a library, so there should be no porn on the computers as well.

There is no such thing as a computer program that can make subjective judgments about the data it processes.

And to call something "porn" is to make such a subjective judgment.

Furthermore, a company with the word "covenant" in its name is likely not one that government-and a public library is a government agency-should engage with. You know, that whole separation-of-church-and-state thing.

Finally, the story about the grandchild (why are these anecdotes ALWAYS about what some kid TOLD Grandma or Mommy or Aunt Whatever he or she saw, and NEVER about what the ADULT witnessed?) just comes off as fishy. Kind of like the Minneapolis lawsuit where legions of porn-craving demons descended upon the library computers, only to magically disappear once the out-of-court settlement was doled out. At least I haven't heard of them since; has anyone else?

I don't particularly disagree with you, but I do note some irony in your statements. You say "porn" is subjective and computer programs can't do subjective. You then go on to "filter out" any company that has the word "covenant" in its name.
So, we can't filter porn, but we can company names?!

There are libraries with porn magazines in their collections.

Brian C. Gray

Get that self-righteous internet crap off goverment computers; it violates Church/State separation.

The best internet "filter" I know of is to put the PC in a place where everyone can see what's on the screen. If the patron is an exhibitionist, this doesn't work.

Behavior in a public place should reflect that it IS a public place. There are any number of things that don't need to be done in a public place.

In my library, patrons are pretty proactive about turning to the person next to them and saying "that's not appropriate to be viewing in a public place," but this is a fairly unique population. There's nothing quite like positive peer pressure.

I have been debating against "public screens" in Finland for years. Here most libraries have screens turned at the public, which means they can read your e-mails, bank account information and even short usernames and passwords when you enter them in forms. This has turned out as follows: Youth does not use any library computers anymore. They don´t want people reading their Facebook accounts or other social media pictures. The adults don´t want to use their e-mails or bank accounts. We have 20 computers, and about 2-3 of them are in use daily. Broadband connections have become so cheap here, that people want to buy one instead of using one in public, sharing their info with the others.

If a person wants to watch pornography with his time at the computer, it wouldn´t bother anyone if the screens would be turned off from the public. Metal music is very popular in Finland, and the metal band web page graphics are often very offensive, this has also become as a regular topic of complain here. All of these issues would be solved if the screens would be turned off from the public. It is not my business to know what the patron is doing with his 1 hour reservation. So far, I haven´t heard of a masturbating patron, so I think a possible pornography content would be a minor problem anywhere.

Also, make your computers so they load their content from a server every time they start (called a "kiosk"), you get rid of offensive wallpapers and other malicious content there may be. We have had no virus problems ever since. Of course, there has to be a small delay after every use, and updating computers has to be done at the server, not at the local computer making updating more difficult, but... it was worth it. Definitely it was worth it.

Read the news stories. Watch the news video. The Covenant Eyes demonstration slam dunked the ALA by showing filters do not filter out health-related information. A public demonstration, no less, to 50 people. And via the Internet, to the whole world.

The ALA continues to argue filters block breast cancer. "False," and the demonstration showed it. Slam dunk.

Love this direct quote from here:

Glenn said many of the claims of Internet filters making it difficult to access non-pornography sites, such as breast cancer research, are outdated.

The statement was illustrated by Bill Lawson, a customer service manager for Covenant Eyes. Lawson showed the audience a variety of Web searches and sites that could be accessed while using Covenant Eyes software.

Some of the subjects he searched for and was able to access included sites for testicular cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, human sexuality and breast cancer.

“The technology has advanced to where these claims are really a false argument,” Lawson said. “As you can see, it is a little hard to find something that is blocked, unless you are actually looking for pornography.”


It is not a slam dunk at all. As a librarian I do not need to operate under logic or reason. I FEEL that the filters block those types of materials so the filters are BAD.

You FEEL? Then you just got a slam dunk too. Wake up. Smell the truth. Filters do not block breast cancer and the like, etc., and so on and so on. Be a librarian, not a lie-brarian.

Hello, McFly


The previous comment was sarcastic. Get with the program.

You need to FEEL the sarcasm.

So the guy who owns the filtering company thinks that his filter works great. And his employee gave a demonstration that demonstrated the same? Does that sound, um, convenient to anyone?

"Who has the best subs in the Red River Valley? According to the guys at Ed's Subs ... Ed's Subs does!"

Do either of you two work in military procurement?

After over 300 Owosso residents showed up at the last library Board meeting, most of whom were for the filtering initiative, the Board agreed to give an Internet policy proposal to the library's attorney. At this point the Board wants to settle any remaining legal questions around filtering all public computers.

According to Section 6 of the Michigan Library Privacy Act (a.k.a. Michigan Public Act 212), “if a library offers use of the internet . . . the governing body of that library shall adopt and require enforcement of a policy that restricts access to minors.” Libraries can choose one of two ways to accomplish this:

Option A: By reserving one or more computers specifically for minors (restricted from receiving obscene or sexually explicit matter) and by reserving one or more computers specifically for adults (that are not restricted).

Option B: By utilizing a system or method designed to prevent a minor from viewing obscene or sexually explicit matter.

As you can see, Option B is sort of an open-ended statement: any "system or method" will do as long as it satisfies the desires of the State to restrict Internet access to minors.

The community members who want default filtering on all computer terminals say they want to go with Option B and then filter all library computers the way federally funded libraries do. This policy is detailed in the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), signed into law by President Clinton. Challenging this law, the American Library Association did not want the requirement of filtering on all public terminals as outlined by CIPA. But they lost in the Supreme Court because the Justices did not see any violation of First Amendment rights. As long as an adult can request that an overblocking filter is disabled “to enable access for bona-fide research or other lawful purposes,” there is no undue stress on anyone’s rights.

Essentially, even though the Owosso branch is not required by law to filter all the computers, certain citizens want the federal guidelines to be followed (1) to restrict children access to pornography, and (2) to discourage adults from using the library to look at pornography.

The rest of the story...

Ron DeHaas and the citizen's group has proposed a restrictive internet use policy that would DENY access to newsgroups, listservs, and chat.

That means NO ACCESS to:

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace

This is a serious violation of the 1st amendment.

Ron DeHaas of Covenant Eyes has lied by stating Shiawassee District Library has no written policy regarding internet use.

This written policy has been in place for years, and it is posted on the library's website.

Ron DeHaas of Covenant Eyes has attempted to destroy the professional reputation of Director Flayer by stating the director "has an agenda to bring/introduce pornography to the library."

The Shiawassee District Library is in 100% compliance with the state laws.

Federal laws do not apply as the library system receives no federal funds.

The percentage of adult content sites being accessed at the library is minuscule in comparison to the thousands of sites accessed weekly at the library.

Catherine Loxan took her 10 year old grand daughter to the library in January 2009. The library is a 2 story building, with multiple entrances/exits, and filled with strangers. Ms. Loxan left her grand daughter unsupervised on the lower level in the children's library area while she went to the 2nd story to use a computer. The 10 year old grand daughter was left to wander unsupervised through the building, while looking for her grandmother. The child walked into the computer area reserved for adults and saw adult content.

Has anybody questioned the lack of personal responsibility displayed by Catherine Loxan? She made a choice to leave a young child unsupervised in large 2 story public building. If the child had been properly supervised, this would not have happened.

This very same comment just appeared on my blog before I saw it here. On my blog, "Anonymous" posted as "Freedom Fighter." Therefore, I now have the same response here as I did on my own blog post:

"Freedom Fighter" said "Ron DeHaas of Covenant Eyes has lied.... Ron DeHaas of Covenant Eyes has attempted to destroy the professional reputation of Director Flayer...." While I am not in a position to determine the merits of such statements, they do look libelous. I urge "Freedom Fighter" to be cognizant of the "Plaxeco Effect." In a nutshell, "Consider your own actions before bringing attention to the actions of others."


In the 3 page ad in the Sunday Independent, Ron DeHaas states this about Director Flayer: "an agenda to bring obscenity into the library" and "the agenda of bringing obscenity into the library"

at he states again: "This statement is a misleading part of an agenda to bring obscenity into the library. "

Ron DeHaas also has stated that the library has no written policy.

That is untrue; a written policy has been in place for years and is accessible on the library web site.

How can this be libelous if he is documented saying these things and they are proven to untrue?

Or is more politically correct to refer to them as "misstatements"?

You said, "Ron DeHaas and the citizen's group has proposed a restrictive internet use policy that would DENY access to newsgroups, listservs, and chat." That policy is no longer on the table. The policy now being proposed is an amended version of the Director's policy revisions.


I encourage you to be cognizant of the definition of the word "libel." My law partner, Mr. Montoya, and I do not think it means what you think it means.