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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