Thursday, March 11, 2010

Obsession (Again)

ob·ses·sion  (b-sshn, b-) n.
1. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
2. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.
--American Heritage Dictionary

I've started a post about SafeLibraries this was before, and here we go again. His post today continues his claim that patrons viewing porn at the CIPA-compliant Brooklyn Public Library is evidence that the library is committing fraud.  He has now taken this absurdity several steps further, claiming that the library is conspiring to cover up the fraud and has even managed to fool independent auditors who found the library to be fully in compliance with the CIPA.

There is, of course, a far simpler, even obvious, explanation of the observable facts. That is to acknowledge that the CIPA allows a library to permit adult patrons to turn the required internet filter off. Allowing adults to deactivate the filter was part of the original CIPA law, and was expanded and strengthened in the US v. ALA Supreme Court Decision. Since an adult has the legal right to deactivate the required internet filter on demand, the simple fact that an adult patron viewing online pornography is not evidence of any kind of violation of the CIPA. The auditors, unlike SafeLibraries, understood that, and so were correct in their conclusion that the library was in full compliance with CIPA requirements. No conspiracy required. SafeLibraries' obsession blinds him to the simple facts of the matter.

And is it a fact, rather than just my interpretation, that adults have the legal right to deactivate the filter? I close with a quote from Order 03-188 from the Federal Communications Commission, which administers compliance with the CIPA. The elipses are as in the original:
In upholding CIPA, the Supreme Court emphasized “the ease with which patrons may have the filtering software disabled,” and that a patron who encounters a blocked site … need only ask a librarian to unblock it (or at least in the case of adults) disable the filter.” The plurality also highlighted the government’s acknowledgment at oral argument that “a patron would not ‘have to explain … why he was asking a site to be unblocked or the filtering to be disabled.’” 

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