Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 26, 2008

A noun, a verb, and “Internet porn”

“The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.” ~ Author Tom Clancy

During the Republican presidential primary, Rudy Giuliani became infamous, as Sen. Joe Biden noted, for campaigning that amounted to “a noun, a verb and 9/11.” Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain is increasingly faulted for his use of a noun, a verb and “POW” to respond to his critics. Gilroy has its own version with library opponents, who like to use a noun, a verb and “Internet porn” to oppose any library taxes.

A library bond measure will be on the general election ballot in Gilroy, so opponents are trotting out the irrelevant Internet filters issue. Case in point: Dispatch columnist Cynthia Walker’s recent column in which she reiterates her blanket opposition to any library taxes because she doesn’t think the Santa Clara County Library’s policies on Internet porn filters are stringent enough.

Why are Internet filter policies irrelevant? Because Measure F, if approved by two-thirds of Gilroy voters, will fund construction of a new library. It will not fund operation of the library.

The Santa Clara County Library system is responsible for the operation of the library. The city of Gilroy is responsible for providing a facility – and that’s what Measure F is about.

Voting against the city of Gilroy’s library-construction bond because you disagree with one narrow aspect of how the Santa Clara County Library system operates it misses the target completely.

But beyond punishing the wrong party, opposing this bond because of one narrow issue ignores all the good that libraries provide our communities. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Libraries are the best bargain in government.

Libraries increase literacy, reduce information poverty and bridge the digital divide. M2Z Networks notes that “70 million [Americans] lack access to any type of Internet connection,” and “91 percent of adults living in households earning more than $75,000 have Internet access but only 53 percent of adults living in households with less than $30,000 have the same.”

That’s not all. Walker and many of her noun-verb-Internet porn cronies call themselves conservatives. That’s a group that frequently decries the “nanny state” – a pejorative term conservatives coined for paternalistic, overprotective governments that assume duties that parents and individuals should handle themselves.

Given that, I’m mystified that Walker and her cronies want to turn librarians into government-paid nannies who monitor the information that patrons access on library computers.

There’s more. Pornography is hardly the only type of information available on the Internet – or in books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and more – that is potentially objectionable for children of differing ages. Why aren’t Walker and her cronies insisting on filters that preventing library computers from displaying graphic violence or “dangerous” ideas? Why aren’t they insisting that librarians monitor information delivered via the printed page?

Perhaps it’s because they’re not true conservatives.

The true conservative position is to demand that parents – not county employees – monitor children’s behavior.

The true conservative position is to advocate for as small and limited a government as possible.

The true conservative position is to protect citizens’ access to information.

If the government can suppress access to information that Walker doesn’t like – pornography, in this case – then it can also suppress access to other information – criticism of government, for example. It’s not a big leap.

That’s why I applaud the Santa Clara County Library’s policy on Internet filters: “Children’s computers have a commercially produced filter which attempts to block sites that might be considered objectionable. The filter is available as an option on computers in the adult rooms.” A more restrictive policy would set us on a path to censorship.

And I can’t think of anything less conservative, or less American, than that.

While Internet filter policies are irrelevant, Gilroyans do have relevant issues to consider as they decide how to vote on Measure F: The state of the current facility and wise use of taxpayer dollars. Do you think that Gilroy needs a larger, seismically sound library? Do you think that spending taxpayer money to build that kind of library is a wise investment?

Gilroy residents, if your answer to those questions – like mine – is yes, then I hope you’ll vote yes on Measure F on Nov. 4.

“Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but, unlike charity, it should end there.”
~ Author and politician Clare Boothe Luce

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: