The Chicago Public Library protects the open and rampant use of Internet pornography by library patrons. This blog is an attempt to bring awareness to this issue and enact change.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why allowing porn in the library is a bad idea...

Mostly - allowing pornography in the public library is a bad idea because it's dangerous. It's dangerous for several reasons. Here are a few.

1. The children.
When porn is watched openly in a public space like the Chicago Public Library, children are exposed to it. First of all, it is a problem for children to be exposed to porn in a public environment like this because, in many cases, children are unable to determine that porn is not real. They may be unable to distinguish that this is for entertainment purposes (that the "actors" are usually paid) and be led to falsely believe that porn accurately reflects all sexual experiences.

Most governments set age limits on certain activities because it's important for all people to make active choices AND to be have the competency to be able to participate in those activities responsibly. (For example, in the US we have age limits on gambling, driving, drinking, smoking, voting or even renting a car. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.) The US government has determined that at 18 years of age, a person is an adult and is capable of making responsible sexual choices for him and herself, including the use of pornography.

Regarding Children - ACTIVE CHOICES and ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE RESPONSIBLY are HUGE! When children are exposed to something before they have the ability to understand the responsible use of that something, it creates a very dangerous situation for that child, and potentially even those around that child.
Pornography should always be an ADULT choice!

ALSO - even children who are not exposed to pornography are still in the environment of sexually charged adults who are viewing pornography. By just being in the same building, even if on a different floor, children can quite easily become victims of sexual predators who may feel the need to "act out" after viewing pornography.

2. The viewers.
There are a couple of aspects to this. The first is that pornography has addictive qualities. There are now even inpatient treatment facilities to treat pornography addiction. This is not to say that every person that chooses to view porn is an addict, but allowing completely free and anonymous* access to pornography at the Chicago Public Library only fosters this kind of behavior. It also allows someone access to these materials that might otherwise be banned from them. For instance, a pornography addict that has these sites blocked on their home machine, can easily go to the library and watch 2 hours of free porn per day.
Secondly, pornography also has a destructive quality in real-life relationships. It has been documented as destroying marriages and preventing some who use it from having healthy sex lives with their partners.

* I use the word "anonymous" here to mean that it cannot be traced back to that person's home or IP address. The only link to a patron and their viewing choices is their library card, which is severely protected by the Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act.

3. Registered Sex Offenders
A scary truth is that registered sex offenders live, work and even play among those of us who are not. They regularly walk down the same streets, eat at the same restaurants and buy groceries from the same stores as us. The good news is that most of them are not trolling for their next victims. However, there is something alarming about knowing that a registered sex offender could be watching tax-funded pornography in my branch of the Chicago Public Library. A person who has already been convicted of behaving inappropriately in a sexual way AGAINST someone else can watch pornography freely and become sexually charged in a public place with a seemingly infinite number of potential next victims. This is a particularly dangerous situation for the people who are unaware that this environment exists in the first place (i.e. children and those unaware of the porn use).

Also, because the Chicago Public Library does not use filters of any kind, there is no way to block child pornography, which is highly illegal. Although the official stance of the Chicago Public Library is to hold those caught using these materials until the police arrive and then properly prosecuting them, there is no way to supervise their follow-through on this policy. It's quite possible for someone to view this without getting caught. And many that are finally prosecuted for this crime are found to have visited the library to view and download this material so that they could avoid being detected.

Along those lines, there have also been many cases of patrons touching themselves in public or even exposing themselves while viewing pornography. And there may even be an element of excitement for some who enjoy knowing that their viewing choices are highly visible to those around them.

So - yes, I understand that for adults using pornography - this is a personal choice. I understand that if you want to do that in the privacy of your own home, it's none of my business. And quite frankly, I'd prefer to keep it that way. HOWEVER - when pornography is so easily and freely accessible to the general public IN PUBLIC, children will be exposed to it - either through their own choice, or by just being in the environment. Those who choose to view it are being allowed free and open access to an addictive and destructive substance, and potential sexual predators are being placed in a sexually charged environment with plenty of potential new victims.
Open and free access to pornography at the Chicago Public Library is a bad idea because it is dangerous.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My response to Mary A. Dempsey

November 24, 2008

Mary A. Dempsey
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State St
Chicago, IL 60605

Dear Commissioner Dempsey:

Thank you for your response to my recent inquiries. I appreciate you taking the time to address the concerns that have been brought to your attention. This issue of rampant pornography use in our public library is indeed a complicated issue and a very serious one at that.

I appreciate the viewpoints that you’ve shared. However, I maintain my stance that it is important to protect the rights of children and those that do not want to be exposed to these images.

As it stands, patrons that choose to use pornography at my public library are able to do so openly. The privacy screens that are installed on the monitors are not effective in preventing other library patrons from seeing, without effort or consent, the pornography being displayed.

Although the Internet itself is not regulated, illegal activities are most certainly regulated. Child pornography is illegal, regardless of the fact that it can be accessed by means of the Internet. Because the Chicago Public Library claims that it does not allow patrons to view child pornography, it stands to reason that the CPL could extend similar measures to prevent all pornography from being on open display.

However, regardless of the legality of any pornography, according to Chicago Municipal Code 2-64-02, it is well within the rights of the Library Board of Directors to govern the library using their Statutory Authority. The Chicago Public Library already has several guidelines and regulations in place regarding many behaviors without concern for legality. For example, according to the Guidelines Governing the Use of the Library posted on the Chicago Public Library website, a patron can be asked to leave and possibly arrested if they neglect their personal hygiene so that it gives offense and constitutes a nuisance to other patrons. A patron can also be asked to leave if they are caught eating, drinking, smoking or sleeping. These behaviors are not illegal, but they are nonetheless banned in the Chicago Public Library.

Pornography is controversial and divisive. When people choose to view these explicit images openly it creates a threatening environment for those that don’t want to be exposed to them, especially when they are not able to voice their objections. All nearby patrons are exposed without consent or even fair warning, including children.

Although children do have their own computer area in the children’s section, many children accompany their parents on the third floor and some older children use the entire library, including the third floor computer area, without being accompanied by an adult. Just being in the general area of the computers on the third floor can expose our children to these graphic images. However, banning children from the third floor computer area is not the answer. Banning children from the third floor adult computer work area prevents single parents from using Internet services while accompanying their child at the library. It also does nothing to address the issue of adults who want to be protected from second-hand pornography.

I am requesting that pornography be banned from public display in my public library. At the very least we should provide truly private access for those choosing to view it. If this requires a separate room, then please do so. It is imperative that we protect our children and those that do not wish to be subjected to these images.


Amanda Bratschie

For ideas and suggestions of various ways to ban pornography from the public library, please see the enclosed article titled “Libraries Vary in Strategy on Porn”. (


Chicago Public Library Board of Directors
Karen Danczak Lyons - First Deputy Commissioner
Ruth Lednicer - Director, Marketing and Press

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pornography in Public: The Full Cover Story

Courtesy of WGN9.

Here's the complete story.
Read more!

Pornography in Public: The Teaser

WGN Channel 9 is airing this story tonight as their cover story: Surfing Porn in Public?

If you can watch this, or maybe tivo it and watch it later - please do. :)

Tuesday, November 25th
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A Response from the Library Commissioner

The images below are jpgs of the letter I received from the Library Commissioner, Mary A. Dempsey, in response to my concerns regarding open and rampant pornography use in the public library.

Please note: personal information has been blacked out for posting purposes.

(note the date, Saturday, November 15th)

(Note the postmark, Wednesday, November 19th)

Read more!

Monday, November 24, 2008

About Privacy (continued)

Library personnel have cited the right of "privacy" several times in regards to the mention of pornography use in our public library. They seem to think that there is an implied and completely understood right to privacy for patrons choosing to view these images in public - privacy expected to be honored by both library staff and fellow patrons.

My previous entry addresses the issue that public acts are by no means private. This entry is meant to deal with the underlying assumption that all patrons have a given right to absolute privacy in the public library.

If I understand this correctly, I believe that the 'privacy' so often referenced by library personnel is a very different type of privacy than the real privacy patrons can expect to have. Because I have searched the Chicago Public Library website and not found explicit direction that everyone will provide absolutely privacy for all patrons in the library, I must assume that the privacy so often mentioned is actually a distorted version of the Library Records Confidentiality Act.

As taken from the Chicago Public Library website:
Confidentiality of Patron and Circulation Records
Pursuant to (75 ILCS 70), the Library Records Confidentiality Act, patron and circulation records of the Chicago Public Library are strictly confidential and not subject to disclosure to the public or to any law enforcement officers except by court warrant. Library employees and any agents of the library are bound to observe this confidentiality.
This policy suggests that circulation records and registration information on specific patrons are to be kept confidential, within specific guidelines (for example, a search warrant would be a legal way to obtain this information). This does not suggest nor does it imply that a patron's public behaviors are also confidential. Being openly exposed to second-hand hard-core pornography is a very different thing than requesting information on what books another patron has checked out.

Again, this is not something that I'm trying to see. I am not purposefully invading anyone's privacy. Rather, all nearby library patrons, including children, are regularly exposed to graphic imagery without consent or even warning.

Read more!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

About Privacy

Because I have been subject to second-hand pornography does not mean that I purposefully invaded the privacy of library patrons around me. I am not a nosy person and couldn't care less about what consenting adults do in the true privacy of their own residence. However, what a person does in public affects me directly. There is no privacy in a public area. This is similar to accusing someone of eavesdropping when they inadvertently overhear a loud person speaking in their cell phone on a crowded bus. This is not something that I'm trying to see.

The privacy screens that are so often referenced by library personnel are by no means an adequate measure to prevent these images from being seen by those in the general area of the screen. This does not mean that there are scores of 'privacy invaders' on the loose. This merely means that public acts are not private and we should not pretend that they are.
Read more!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Attn: Call to Action

I'm currently looking for readers who would be willing to share their own stories of being exposed to porn in the library. Anything from general disgust, to particular incidents would be greatly appreciated.

If you do have a story or sentiment that you would like to share, please contact me at my email address listed on this blog.

Submissions will remain anonymous upon request and will only be published on the blog with explicit permission.
Read more!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Next Steps

Since the inception of this blog, the idea was to get in touch with other people who are already trying to get things changed in regards to banning the open use of hard-core pornography in the Chicago Public Library. (After all, why reinvent the wheel?)

In my research, I found several people who have worked hard to make these changes. As a result, I discovered information on HB1727. At this point, I'm in the process of drafting letters to the sponsors.
It seems to be on hold or maybe even nixed at this point. We need to know why. Why was it stopped? What can we do to get this in public consciousness? What can we do to get things changed?

At any rate - check back in the next week or two for those letters and possibly more updates.
Read more!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Filing a Complaint...

I visited the library again this morning.

The good news is that I was able to meet CPL librarian, Laura Morgan. I plan to write more about Ms. Morgan and all of the work that she has done in regards to the issue of pornography in the library - so stay tuned and check back! Ms. Morgan is a true warrior and I've been very impressed with a lot of the work she's done. It was an honor to meet her.

The not-so-good news was that it was incredibly difficult to file a formal written complaint. As readers of the blog know, I've made considerable effort to contact library officials through phone calls and letters. However, wise counsel suggested I file a formal written complaint with the library - leaving it officially on the record - and searchable in case of legal action.

A formal written complaint seemed like such an foreign concept to everyone. I asked the guard by the 3rd floor bag check. He used his walkie-talkie to signal over a supervisor. The supervisor asked what it was about. I told him. He replied "we can't do anything about that". I said, "I just want to formally file a complaint". He would have been happy to just leave it there, but another guard spoke up and was nice enough to take me up to the 4th floor. On the way up the escalator, that guard said "you know there's privacy screens, right?" Yes, I know there's screens. (Not that they stopped me from seeing anything).

On the 4th floor, the guard asked to speak with someone and we waited. Unfortunately, I didn't catch his name, but he seemed genuinely nice. After some searching for a form, I was given a generic form for Comments and Opinions. There was some confusion about who I should send it too. And I was also given email addresses for Ms. Dempsey and Ms. Bever, even though I've reached out to both of them already regarding this issue. I wrote about my experience on Saturday, 9/28 and handed it in a sealed envelope to a librarian who helped us find the form. It was recommended that I send the official complaint to Ms. Bever, so I did.

Overall - it was such a weird experience. It seemed almost like there is either no system already in place for accepting formal, written complaints - or they were actively trying to dissuade me from doing so. Either way - I have no way of knowing if there will even be a record that I filed a complaint. {sigh}

Read more!


I had a great conversation with a fellow warrior against open porn in public libraries - David E. Smith, the Executive Director of Illinois Family Institute (IFI).
Remarkably, this issue has been around for quite awhile now - about ten years.

He spent a lot of time in Springfield, working to enact legislation. There was some headway made with the intro of HB1727, but it's been stalled since May of '07.
Here's the full text of HB1727.

Read more!

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Letters to the CPL Board of Directors

A similar letter was sent to each of the seven members of the CPL Board of Directors, complete with enclosures of current Public Computer Use Policies for various cities across our country.

October 17, 2008

Jane Carr Thompson
Board of Directors, President
Chicago Public Library
Commissioner’s Office, 10N
400 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605

Dear President Thompson:
I am a proud resident of Chicago and an appreciator of public libraries. Although I’ve recently obtained my own Chicago Public Library card, I am not new to public libraries and have been a patron of this wonderful resource since childhood. However, an alarming issue regarding the CPL has jolted me into action recently – the use of Internet pornography in the Harold Washington branch.

I was first made aware of this issue a few weeks ago while visiting the library to help friends of mine use the computers. From where I was sitting I noticed several patrons openly using Internet pornography. In spite of privacy screens, I was able to see, without effort, obscene and graphic sex acts being displayed on several screens. The circumstances truly made me feel that I was in a sexually threatening environment. After inquiring about the policies for computer use, I was told by a librarian that patron use of pornography in Chicago Public Libraries is a “Right”. I was also told that I was not allowed to politely tell these patrons that I was offended or ask them to stop because “it might offend them”. I am embarrassed that the CPL protects the open use of hard-core pornography by patrons.

According to Chicago Ordinance 2-64-020, the Board of Directors has the authority to govern the library as they see fit. I’m writing this letter to ask you to ban pornography from open and public areas in the Chicago Public Library system in order to maintain a safe and non-threatening environment for everyone.

I understand that this issue is not new to Chicago and I’m sure you’ve faced it before. However, it is possible to maintain a public library that supports Intellectual Freedom that is also a safe and non-threatening environment for everyone to work and live in. Cities across our nation are dealing with the same issue of censorship versus pornographic obscenity in our public libraries and many cities have devised working solutions to this issue. Enclosed are several Public Computer User Agreement Policies from a variety of cities and libraries for your reference.

Letters similar to this one are being sent to the other members on the Board of Directors. It is your responsibility to provide a safe and non-threatening public library environment for EVERYONE. I ask that you address this issue with the Board at the earliest possible meeting, and I urge you to consider implementing any combination of the many enclosed examples of solutions for this issue that are successfully in use in public libraries across our nation.

Amanda Bratschie


2-64-020 Board of directors – Statutory authority.
The board of directors provided for by statute and appointed in accordance therewith shall have control and management of all matters pertaining to the Chicago Public Library in accordance with the provisions of the Illinois Local Library Act, as amended. The board shall have the authority to rent out rooms and space within library buildings for private use, but in no event shall any such rental exceed one day or be for the purpose of sale of any thing or service to library patrons, except with the prior approval of the city council. The form of such rental agreements shall be subject to approval of the corporation counsel. The board in its bylaws may impose reasonable fees for the borrowing of films and recordings, as well as reasonable charges for the late return or failure to return library materials of any nature. Nothing in this section or in the bylaws of the board prohibits or restricts the right of the city to prosecute any person under Sections 2-64-040 and 2-64-050 of this Code.
(Prior code § 23-2; Amend Coun. J. 11-17-93, p. 42192)

For the purposes of the blog, the following Public Computer Use Policies were enclosed in the letters:
Boston Globe article, "Libraries Vary in Strategy on Porn"
New York Public Library
Concord Public Library
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Minneapolis Public Library
Chicago Heights Public Library

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It doesn't make sense...

People just don't expect to have access to hard-core pornography in public libraries.

There's just so much about this that doesn't make sense. Let's take another look at the Chicago City Ordinances and ponder...

According to City Ordinance 8-8-080:
It's not okay for someone to show their own genitals in public. No - they would get arrested, or at the very least, fined. Even if it's only being shown - not necessarily even used in a lewd act.
Why is our public library leadership convinced that that any 'adult' person can show other people's genitals at a public library computer - or it's censorship?
8-8-080 Indecent exposure or dress.

Any person who shall appear, bathe, sunbathe, walk or be in any public park, playground, beach or the waters adjacent thereto, or any school facility and the area adjacent thereto, or any municipal building and the areas adjacent thereto, or any public way within the City of Chicago in such a manner that the genitals, vulva, pubis, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus, anal region, or pubic hair region of any person, or any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof of any female person, is exposed to public view or is not covered by an opaque covering, shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $500.00 for each offense.

(Prior code § 192-8; Amend Coun. J. 12-4-02, p. 99931, § 5.4)

According to City Ordinance 8-8-030:
Prostitution in Chicago is illegal - most of chapter 8 is all about prostitution (with the exception of some train tickets and tampering with phone booths). Why can our public libraries aid open acts of prostitution by protecting hard-core pornography use? After all, the 'actors' and 'actresses' are prostituting themselves by exchanging sex for money. Why does it magically become a "Right" when you openly watch a video or image of other people prostituting themselves? And why is it a "Right" to watch it where everyone else has to see it too?
8-8-030 Prostitution or lewdness in conveyances.

No person shall knowingly receive any person for purposes of lewdness, assignation, or prostitution into or upon any vehicle or other conveyance or permit any person to remain for any of the said purposes in or upon any such vehicle or other conveyance.

Any person that shall violate the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $400.00 for each offense.

(Prior code § 192-3; Amend Coun. J. 9-4-02, p. 92888, § 1)

8-8-010 House of ill-fame or assignation.

Every house of ill-fame or house of assignation where men and women resort for the purpose of fornication, prostitution, or lewdness is hereby declared to be a nuisance.

No person shall keep or maintain a house of ill- fame or assignation, or a place for the practice of fornication, prostitution, or lewdness. Each 24 hours that such house or place shall be kept or maintained for such purpose shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.

No person shall patronize, frequent, be found in, or be an inmate of any such house or place used for any of the purposes set forth in this section.

No person shall lease to another any house, room, or other premises, in whole or in part, for any of the uses or purposes set forth in this section or knowingly permit the same to be used or occupied for such purposes.

(Prior code § 192-1)

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Monday, October 13, 2008

My follow-up Letter to Alderman Fioretti

October 13, 2008

Robert W. Fioretti
Chicago Alderman – 2nd Ward
City Hall Office
121 North LaSalle Street
Room 300, Office 02
Chicago, IL 60602

Alderman Fioretti -

Thank you again for taking the time to call me on Thursday evening. I appreciate having the opportunity to voice my concerns with you.

You had mentioned a technology that would keep pornographic sites in their own domain. I believe something along these lines may be a good step to a long-term solution for this problem. As I mentioned, I found a similar technology, CP80:
(And some criticism of that approach:

However, regardless of which approach we take for a long-term solution, we still need to take steps towards banning pornography in our public libraries now. Many libraries have found workable solutions to this issue, not involving filters, using one or more of the approaches listed below:
  • Stated and publicly displayed policy regarding the appropriate use of public computers and explicitly stating that viewing pornography is not allowed or tolerated. (Policies regarding cell phone and general library use are currently posted in the Harold Washington branch.)

  • Each user agreeing to a User Agreement Policy (banning pornography) by clicking "I agree" before each session can start, or signing an agreement before using this public resource.

  • Librarians sending pop-up messages to offending patrons screens, asking them to leave that particular site.

  • Asking patrons that violate the library's Public Computer Use Policy to leave for the day.

  • Temporarily revoking library privileges (in increased lengths of time) for repeat offenders.
(Please note: I have not mentioned Internet filters in this list. Although it has been argued that filters "do not work", it has also been argued that filtering technology has improved greatly since it was first introduced, and blocked sites can be unblocked for legitimate research needs.)

I've also included several Public Computer Use Policies from various libraries to bring awareness of how other Public Libraries have successfully dealt with this very issue.

Amanda Bratschie

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
~Theodore Roosevelt

For the blog only - the articles and policies attached are:

* Brookfield Free Public Library Public Computer Use Policy
* Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Internet Use/Safety Policy
* The New York Public Library Policy on Public Use of the Internet
* Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library Public Computer Use Policy
* Boston Globe article, "Libraries vary in strategy on porn"

Read more!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Conversation with Alderman Fioretti

All of my letters and phone calls have finally paid off -
Alderman Robert Fioretti called me earlier tonight. He expressed that pornography in our public libraries is indeed a problem. However, he didn't seem to think that filters were the answer. (Regular readers of the blog will remember that I've never pushed filters as the ONLY answer to this problem anyway). There was no specific resolution at the end of our call, but Alderman Fioretti promised to think about the issue and come up with a serious solution to a serious problem.

I feel another letter coming on...
Read more!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Contact Information for Elected Officials

The Illinois State Board of Elections website has an amazing tool called "District/Official Search". Just follow the link below. After you enter your address, you'll be presented with contact information for the Congressional, Legislative (Senate), Representative and Statewide Elected Officials.

When you have that contact information, I urge you to reach out to these people and let them know that you don't want our tax dollars used to fund open pornography use in our Public Libraries. There's a push in this struggle to urge our State lawmakers to withhold State funding from our Public Libraries if they continue to protect these illegal materials in our Public Libraries.

Read more!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chicago City Ordinances

Click "Read more" for all of the Ordinances and information I have found for the City of Chicago regarding obscenity laws, material harmful to minors and even false statements. I found all of this information online at


1-21-010 False statements.

Any person who knowingly makes a false statement of material fact to the city in violation of any statute, ordinance or regulation, or who knowingly falsifies any statement of material fact made in connection with an application, report, affidavit, oath, or attestation, including a statement of material fact made in connection with a bid, proposal, contract or economic disclosure statement or affidavit, is liable to the city for a civil penalty of not less than $500.00 and not more than $1,000.00, plus up to three times the amount of damages which the city sustains because of the person's violation of this section. A person who violates this section shall also be liable for the city's litigation and collection costs and attorney's fees.

The penalties imposed by this section shall be in addition to any other penalty provided for in the municipal code.

(Added Coun. J. 12-15-04, p. 39915, § 1)

1-21-030 Enforcement.

In addition to any other means authorized by law, the corporation counsel may enforce this chapter by instituting an action with the department of administrative hearings.

(Added Coun. J. 12-15-04, p. 39915, § 1)

This Code of Ordinances and/or any other documents that appear on this site may not reflect the most current legislation adopted by the Municipality. American Legal Publishing Corporation provides these documents for informational purposes only. These documents should not be relied upon as the definitive authority for local legislation. Additionally, the formatting and pagination of the posted documents varies from the formatting and pagination of the official copy. The official printed copy of a Code of Ordinances should be consulted prior to any action being taken.

For further information regarding the official version of any of this Code of Ordinances or other documents posted on this site, please contact the Municipality directly or contact American Legal Publishing toll-free at 800-445-5588.

8-8-090 Indecent publications and exhibitions.

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to exhibit, sell, print, offer to sell, give away, circulate, publish, distribute, or attempt to distribute any obscene book, magazine, pamphlet, paper, writing, card, advertisement, circular, print, picture, photograph, motion picture film, play, image, instrument, statue, drawing, or other article which is obscene. Any person violating any provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $20.00 nor more than $200.00 for each offense.

Obscene for the purpose of this section is defined as follows: whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interests.

(Prior code § 192-9)

8-8-110 Material harmful to minors unlawful.

A. For the purposes of this section the following words shall be defined as follows:

(a) "Minor" means any person under the age of 18 years.

(b) "Nudity" means the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering, or the showing of the female breast with less than a full opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple, or the depiction of covered male genitals in a discernible turgid state.

(c) "Sexual conduct" includes any of the following depicted sexual conduct:

(i) Any act of sexual intercourse, actual or simulated, including genital, anal-genital, or oral- genital intercourse, whether between human beings or between a human being and an animal;

(ii) Sadomasochistic abuse, meaning flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is nude or clad in undergarments or in a revealing costume or the condition of being fettered, bound or otherwise physically restricted on the part of one so clothed;

(iii) Masturbation or lewd exhibitions of the genitals including any explicit, closeup representation of a human genital organ;

(iv) Physical contact or simulated physical contact with the clothed or unclothed pubic areas or buttocks of a human male or female, or the breasts of the female, whether alone or between members of the same or opposite sex or between humans and animals in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification;

(v) An act of sexual assault where physical violence or drugs are employed to overcome the will of or achieve the consent of a person to an act of sexual conduct and the effects or results of the violence or drugs are shown.

(d) "Sexual excitement" means the condition of human male or female genitals when in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal.

(e) "Harmful to minors" means that quality of any description or representation in whatever form, or nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement, when it:

(i) Predominantly appeals to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors in sex; and

(ii) Is patently offensive to contemporary standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable sexual material for minors; and

(iii) Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

(f) "Knowingly" means having general knowledge of, or reason to know, or a belief or ground for belief which warrants further inspection or inquiry or both.

B. It is unlawful for any person knowingly to sell or loan for monetary consideration to a minor any written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement and which is harmful to minors.

It is unlawful for any person commercially and knowingly to exhibit, display, sell, offer to sell, lend, give away, circulate, distribute, or attempt to distribute any written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape which is harmful to minors in its context in any place where minors are or may be present or allowed to be present and where minors are able to view such material unless each item of such material is at all times kept in a sealed wrapper.

It is also unlawful for any person commercially and knowingly to exhibit, display, sell, offer to sell, give away, circulate, distribute, or attempt to distribute, any written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape whose cover, covers, or packaging, standing alone, is harmful to minors, in any place where minors are to be present and where minors are able to view such material unless each item of such material is at all times blocked from view by an opaque cover. The requirement of an opaque cover shall be deemed satisfied concerning such material if those portions of the cover, covers, or packaging containing such material harmful to minors are blocked from view by an opaque cover.

The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to distribution or attempt to distribute the exhibition, display, sale, offer of sale, circulation, giving away of material harmful to minors where such material is sold, exhibited, displayed, offered for sale, given away, circulated, distributed, or attempted to be distributed under circumstances where minors are not present, not allowed to be present, or are not able to view such material or the cover, covers, or packaging of such material. Any business may comply with the requirements of this clause by physically segregating such material in a manner so as to physically prohibit the access to and view of the material by minors, by prominently posting at the entrance(s) to such restricted area, "Adults Only – you must be 18 to enter", and by enforcing said restrictions.

(Prior code § 192-10.1; Amend Coun. J. 11-26-86, p. 37627; Amend Coun. J. 7-29-87, p. 2824)

8-8-120 Violation – Penalty for Section 8-8-110.

Any person violating any of the provisions of Section 8-8-110 shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in an amount not less than $100.00 nor more than $200.00 or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding six months or be both so fined and imprisoned. Each day that such violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such hereunder. If more than one written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape shall knowingly be sold, lent, displayed, offered to be sold, given away, circulated, distributed or in any way furnished or attempted to be furnished to any such person in violation of Section 8-8-110, the sale, loan, display, offer to sell, giving away, circulation, distribution or in any way furnishing or attempting to furnish to any such person of each separate written, photographic, printed, sound, published material or videotape shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punished as such hereunder.

(Prior code § 192-10.2; Amend Coun. J. 11-26-86, p. 37627)

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Monday, October 6, 2008

My Letter to Alderman Fioretti

October 6, 2008

Robert W. Fioretti

Chicago Alderman – 2nd Ward

429 S. Dearborn Street

Chicago, IL 60605

Dear Alderman Fioretti:

I am a proud resident of our beloved city, Chicago. However, I recently discovered an embarrassing blemish about our city – this blemish is the open and rampant use of Internet pornography in Chicago Public Libraries. My husband and I became aware of this issue at the Harold Washington branch last Saturday, September 27th. In addition to the initial shock of public obscenity, I was told by the librarian on staff that this is a "Right" and that I'm not allowed to politely tell the patrons using pornography that I'm offended because it "might offend them".

I have tried to contact your office twice last week regarding this issue. Also, I've started the blog My goal is to bring awareness to this issue of forced pornographic obscenity in our Chicago Public Libraries and to enact change as well.

The CPL absolves itself of responsibility for this issue by stating that it’s only following the lead of the American Library Association (ALA), which cites First Amendment rights. Although the ALA does recommend that all public libraries maintain open, unfettered access to the Internet, each city is able to make policies and regulations for its own citizens. New York City and Boston, among many other cities, already ban pornography use on Public Library computers.

Chicago needs to follow the lead of these cities and ban pornography use in our Public Libraries as well. There are many ways to do this without infringing on speech actually protected by the First Amendment. (Obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment.) New York City uses an Internet filter system and a library near Boston does not use filters at all, but instead, utilizes a stated public policy enforced by temporarily revoking library privileges of repeat offenders.

I believe it's possible to have a Public Library that supports Intellectual Freedom while being a safe and non-harassing environment in which to work and live.

I am seeking legislation and awareness. I am seeking change.

What is your stance on this issue? What will you do to enact change? What will you do to help make our Public Library a safer, non-threatening environment?

I look forward to your response,

Amanda Bratschie

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Some Ridiculous Pro-porn-in-the-library Arguments...

I’ve heard several ridiculous arguments for people that are pro-porn in our Public Libraries. Here are just a few:
  • “What about the kids? Whatever - kids are going to find porn anyway. If they want to see it – they will.”
    • This is horrible logic! And most people making this argument don’t even have kids! Kids might want to smoke and experiment with illegal drugs too, but that doesn’t mean that you should use taxpayer dollars to make an ample supply freely and anonymously available, without parental consent or even parental knowledge, to every kid that wants it. Just because kids might have another way to access pornography doesn't mean that we need to hand them this access on a silver platter – no strings attached – in our public libraries.
    • What about kids involved on the other side of the camera? There have been several instances of patrons viewing child pornography in Public Libraries. (Perhaps they do this at the library instead of at home to avoid detection and remain anonymous). Child porn is ILLEGAL. In one of the more famous recent cases, a librarian in California was allegedly fired for turning a patron into the police after the second time that she caught that patron viewing child porn. For more information on this case, follow any of the below links:
  • “What about those that don’t have the means to watch this elsewhere? Now you’re separating the ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots.’”
    • First of all, we need to consider the other side of this argument. What about those that don’t want to watch second-hand porn and don’t have the means to use the Internet elsewhere? By protecting open pornography use, you are forcing the patrons who don’t want to be in that environment to make the choice between porn-libraries or no Internet at all.
    • Secondly, just because someone can’t afford pornography doesn’t mean that it’s the taxpayers’ responsibility to provide it. Voting is a Right. Owning land (that you can afford) is a Right. But viewing pornography is not an American-given Right.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

NYPL Policy on Public Use of the Internet

NYC, a stereotypically liberal city, seems to have a good program in place for this issue. Although they've chosen to use Internet filters, they provide ways for patrons to unblock sites that are legitimately protected speech as per the First Amendment.

To read their complete posted policy, follow the url below.
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

What Constitutes Obscenity?

Obscenity was defined by the Supreme Court in the 1973 Miller vs. California case (now known as the Miller test. This is also the same case of the famous "I'll know it when I see it.")
Please click the following link for more detailed information on the Miller test:

Basically, the Miller test states that that a work is subject to the local community regulations as to if the work, taken a complete piece, appeals to the prurient interest in sex; and, taken as whole, does not have serious artistic, political, or scientific value.

The test is 3-part, as below:
"The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be:

(a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, [Roth, supra, at 489,]

(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and

(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. If a state obscenity law is thus limited, First Amendment values are adequately protected by ultimate independent appellate review of constitutional claims when necessary. [Pp. 24-25.]" ( definition of "prurient" Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This pru·ri·ent [proor-ee-uhnt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1.having, inclined to have, or characterized by lascivious or lustful thoughts, desires, etc.
2.causing lasciviousness or lust.
3.having a restless desire or longing.

[Origin: 1630–40; <>prūrient- (s. of prūriéns), prp. of prūrīre to itch]

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