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Porn on L.A. Library Public Terminals Gets Serious Debate in City Hall

Not an L.A. library branch (but could be).
Not an L.A. library branch (but could be).
merrick_monroe

Ah, L.A. City Hall, always tackling the Big Issue. Like cat declawing and an Arizona business boycott that has no teeth.

And now the accidental, over-the-shoulder viewing of internet porn at public libraries is a matter of serious inquiry among city officials.

Yes, this was actually a major topic of discussion at the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee meeting this week.

And what was done about it?

Why nothing, of course.

Well, there was a lot of talk, with UCLA constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh saying city libraries could filter porn on its public internet terminals, but only until someone asked them to stop.

L.A. Central Library.
L.A. Central Library.

"If the library says, 'No, we don't want to unblock. We don't want to subsidize this kind of material,' that's something that's not yet settled" by the U.S. Supreme Court, he told the committee.

Council members like Ed Reyes are concerned about the rights of patrons to see what they want to see -- and most porn isn't illegal. Said Reyes:

If we could maintain the level of privacy without compromising security, I think we can find a way where no one can sue the city for violating their First Amendment rights. At the same time, there are certain characters that don't have the best judgment around children and around families at our libraries.

New York's public libraries have a laissez-faire approach to the whole issue (read The New York Times' Ethicist approach to the matter here).

In L.A., it seems we're a little more small-town than that.

The matter came up after city officials received complaints about porn viewing at the Chinatown library branch.

Library officials told the committee that terminals have screens that are hard to view from angles and that they're studying site lines to ensure passers-by -- particularly children -- don't get an eyeful when Uncle Chester is doing his "research."

Good work, city of L.A. Now can you fix a pothole or two and maybe think about when you'll be able to reopen libraries on Mondays? Thanks.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.


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