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Dear Chapel Hill Public Library Director Susan Brown,
I’m Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries and I have information for you, the library board, and the town council to consider regarding library Internet filters and how they are negatively portrayed by the American Library Association [ALA]. My opinion will be based on over a decade of my activity in this area and on the Durham Herald-Sun article entitled, “Chapel Hill Town Council to Ponder Online Filter at Library,” by Tammy Grubb, 7 January 2017 ( http://www.heraldsun.com/news/chapel-hill-town-council-to-ponder-online-filter-at-library/article_9e8aea20-d513-11e6-b7ed-0bbaff37e801.html ). When linking to sources on my own publications, I merely provide a convenient means to present primary source material for your consideration, such as the video of a library employee speaking out about the sexual harassment she suffered as a result of the library’s adherence to ALA policy that allowed a hostile work environment instead of adhering to the law; management told her don’t let the door hit you on the way out if you don’t like it.
First, a member of the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] has said library Internet filters work well and libraries not using them should reconsider past decisions to not use them. I have written about this here: “FCC: Library Filters Work, Having Them is a Community Decision, and Libraries Should Revisit CIPA Filters Due to Technological Advances” ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2014/08/visser.html ).
Second, former American Library Association President Carla Hayden, testifying before US Congress before being confirmed as Librarian of Congress, said filters work well and libraries should block Internet pornography. I have written about this here: “Librarian of Congress Nominee Carla Hayden Misleads Congress But Speaks Truth About Filtering” ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2016/05/carla-hayden.html ).
Third, even ALA leadership itself admitted library filters work well and no longer block “breast cancer,” for example, when forced into it by a National Public Radio [NPR] affiliate in response to a court deciding libraries need not unblock porn sites for patrons: “ALA Admits Library Filters Work; Barbara Jones Bursts Her Own Breast Cancer Bubble” ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2012/02/ala-admits-library-filters-work-barbara.html ).
This is remarkable as just a week before ALA wrote in the Huffington Post that filters block “breast cancer.” Only when forced into it on an NPR affiliate did the truth come out. This is a 100% turnaround in only a week, and it only came about only after ALA was publicly challenged. This is an example of why ALA refuses to participate in any public challenges of its harmful policies (but is happy to have the media blindly repeat them).
Fourth, the US Supreme Court ruled against the American Library Association on the issue of library filters. In 2003, US v. ALA held that there is no First Amendment protection for viewing Internet pornography in public libraries since libraries have traditionally blocked porn ( http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/539/194.html ). ALA, having lost this case, misleads people by intentionally not talking about porn as US v. ALA did repeatedly but instead calling it “constitutionally protected material.” Yes, Internet porn is indeed constitutionally protected material, but SCOTUS ruled that is not the case in public libraries. And notice in the Durham Herald-Sun article ALA is using this same deception to mislead your own community: “The American Library Association does not recommend Internet filters, saying they can block ‘constitutionally protected speech, including content on social networking and gaming sites, compromises First Amendment freedoms and the core values of librarianship.’”
Those “core values of librarianship” are not the core values of any community. The “core values” include that it is “age” discrimination to keep children from reading any material whatsoever. It’s in ALA’s so-called “Library Bill of Rights,” as if it were some kind of document of national importance. Yet obviously communities think it perfectly appropriate to protect themselves including their children from inappropriate material. As the Court in US v. ALA put it, “The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree” ( http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/539/194.html ). So the “core values of librarianship” are not the core values of anyone else.
Fifth, ALA uses a disgraced expert to claim filters do not work. It even touts a recent report it had drafted on the topic, but the author of that merely cited to the disgraced expert’s work. This is of relevance since ALA is now misleading your community on this point. As the Durham Herald-Sun article states, “The association notes the software can be unreliable, blocking too much or too little content, and letting experienced computer users circumvent the filters.” That comes from the disgraced expert. You see, her work was conducted many years ago, at a point when filters really did cause trouble. But times have changed, as the FCC and the Librarian of Congress have noted. The disgraced expert’s work has not been updated.
And I say disgraced because she is the only member of a three person team who did not apologize for making false claims of sexual harassment against a fellow librarian. After a year and a half of harassment by those librarians, the man lost his career. Two of the librarians admitted they lied and apologized, but ALA’s disgraced filtering expert never did, likely because that would call into question her false claims about library filtering, and she’s ALA’s one and only expert on the subject. I have written about this here: “TeamHarpy Faked Sexual Harassment, Hurting True Efforts to Stop It” ( http://www.librarians.cc/2015/03/teamharpy-faked-sexual-harassment.html ); “RIP Nat Hentoff: He Exposed the Shame of the American Library Association” ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2017/01/rip-nat-hentoff.html ).
So, literally, ALA is misleading your community to think filters do not work based on old research by a woman who destroyed a man’s career with false claims of his being a “sexual predator.”
In a more insidious way of misleading your community, ALA is not advising your community that library filters have vastly improved and even the FCC and the Librarian of Congress now say so.
One can sense the reporter at the News & Observer could smell a rat since the next paragraph points to another library having no trouble at all with filters: “The Orange County Public Library hasn’t had any problems with its software, in place for several years, director Lucinda Munger said. The filters meet the minimum requirements, which can let offensive materials slip through, she said.”
Sixth, there is also the question of state law. Does your state law punish obscenity? Are libraries exempt? Does your state law have an exemption from sexually hostile work environments for public libraries? Does your state law allow for the creation of public libraries for anything whatsoever or for the use and benefit of the public? Internet pornography is neither for the use nor for the benefit of the public. Providing Internet porn in libraries, the natural result of having no filters, may violate state law. A library may be autonomous, but only to act within the law, not to exceed it.
ALA has bullied its law-defying ways into many libraries. Much harm has resulted from that, including the sexual harassment of librarians that ALA says never happened and never will. I have written about this here: “Sexual Harassment of Librarians Never Happens; Child Pornography is Intellectual Freedom” ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2014/12/sexual-harassment-of-librarians.html ).
Indeed, ALA does not advise that a lack of Internet filtering can lead to legal actions against libraries and municipalities. It’s like the dog not barking. I would think knowing a lack of Internet filters may increase liability risks for taxpayers may be of interest to decision makers. ALA is promoting its own policy by leaving out that libraries might be sued over sexual harassment caused by Internet porn-viewing patrons. But such harassment occurs frequently and victims are often afraid to speak out. Here’s a library employee/victim who spoke out, only after eight years after she quit, and I present video and a transcript: “Library Insider Linda Zec Gives Scoop on Porn in Libraries” ( http://www.librarians.cc/2015/01/linda-zec.html ).
Conversely, ALA advises that blocking Internet pornography might lead to a library/municipality being sued. That has never happened and never will, precisely because SCOTUS ruled there’s no First Amendment right to Internet porn in public libraries, there’s no free speech right to Internet porn in public libraries. When I made that statement in the Chicago Tribune, ALA piped up to say I was false, that libraries have been sued for blocking porn, and gave as an example a legal case that was about blocking LGBT material but not porn. ALA literally lied to make that statement because the same ALA leader just a year and a half earlier made a different statement about the same case. As this shows, ALA will intentionally mislead to convince people to think whatever it wants them to think. I have written about this here: “ALA Admits Libraries Have Never Been Sued for Blocking Porn” ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2013/11/NeverBeenSued.html ); “ALA Misleads on Internet Pornography in Libraries” ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2013/11/ALAMisleads.html ).
So ALA advises libraries might be sued for blocking Internet porn, which will never happen, and leaves out that libraries and municipalities are indeed sued for failing to block Internet porn, thereby creating a hostile work environment. It even scoffs at that idea after I forced it to discuss the issue, as I linked above. Does anyone want to work in a hostile work environment that invites sexual harassment? Yet ALA misleads communities into rationalizing why Internet filters should not be used in public libraries. Do you want your community and your library employees, librarians, trustees, and patrons to be subjected to a sexually hostile work environment? Of course not.
Hopefully the words of the FCC and the Librarian of Congress will guide you instead of the misleading diktat of the ALA that is in part derived from an outdated and disgraced expert who lied and thereby destroyed a man’s career. Hopefully you’ll think about what I said and decide to comply with the law and community standards, let alone common sense, instead of with ALA’s intentionally deceptive diktat.
I’ll be happy to answer any questions, of course, from you or from those whom I have CC’d. Feel free to write or call me at 973-610-8296.
NOTE ADDED 25 JANUARY 2017:
The town voted down the filters claiming, falsely, that certain words will prevent finding medical information: "'Certain words can cause you not to see an entire website that might have medical or pertinent information that you're researching,' said Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger:
- "Chapel Hill Strikes Down Porn-Blocker for Public Library," by Stephanie Lopez, ABC 11 Eyewitness News WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham, 24 January 2017.
"'Certain words can cause you not to see an entire website that might have medical or pertinent information that you're researching,' said Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger."
That is openly false and has been for years.
Any harm that results from unfiltered Internet computers, including s3xually harassed librarians and library employees, can now be laid directly at the feet of the Chapel Hill government. That government should then be sued, as others have, to the full extent of the law. That mayor should be sued personally as well.
Anyone reading this in the future needing help suing for damages, please contact me.
That lady should be thrown out of office at the next election and replaced with someone who will comply with the law, common sense, and community standards.
Evidence of community standards is as follows, a poll showing 84% favoring pornography filters:
Should public libraries have pornography filters on their computers?— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) January 24, 2017
NOTE ADDED 27 JANUARY 2017:
I have filed the following FOIA request:
Regarding the Mayor and others in the government who decided not to use Internet filters in the public library or who contributed in any way with the decision, I’ll call them “the government” either individually or as a group. Media reported a decision was made by the government not to use Internet filters in the library, in part because words or phrases would cause the filters to block health information. I’ll call that the “decision.”
This FOIA request seeks all communications in all formats (letters, emails, social media messages private and public, tweets, audio recordings, etc.) sent to the government and responses from the government that pertain to the decision, laws relating to public libraries, or any other topic related to the decision, including communications to/from the library director, anyone else locally, anyone else nationwide, any group such as the American Library Association, or any filtering supply company. No one should be excluded.
Note this FOIA includes those CC’d and BCC’d on emails. BBC is a convenience for the letter writer, not a means to evade FOIA. Similarly, use of direct messages in social media is a convenience for the people involved, not a means to evade FOIA.
Note that where a distribution list is used that is under the control of the government, the individual addresses/emails/identities/names contained in that distribution list is also requested via this FOIA request, whether that distribution list is used in the TO, CC, or BCC section of the relevant document.
I also ask for all notes taken by the government as a result of reading or participating in the various communications, whether handwritten or electronically recorded, and for all written or verbal/audio directives to destroy such notes no matter who or what group made the directive.
I am not asking for attorney-client privileged information.
However, if a person is a lawyer, but no legitimate attorney-client relationship is present, then any FOIA response must include information from such a person. I say this to be clear that communication cannot be withheld even if it comes from a lawyer, unless that lawyer is in a non-sham attorney-client relationship with the government.
If any information is withheld on the basis of attorney-client privilege, please identify the name and address of the person having entered any attorney-client relationship with the government.
Certainly the decision by the government was not made in a vacuum. I know I, for example, sent you information on the issue. I expect that to be including in the other information included in the FOIA response. It’s only a single email from me and perhaps a tweet or two from @SafeLibraries so this should not be burdensome in the slightest.
The information returned under this FOIA will be published by me on SafeLibraries and/or on Sexual Harassment of Librarians after my investigation. This is a matter of public importance and public safety, so please waive any fees.
I request that where possible the documents provided in response to the FOIA request be made available in PDF format, and all audio recordings be made in common audio formats such as MP3. All should be provided as attachments to an email sent to SafeLibraries@gmail.com.
Thank you very much.