Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Mother protests porn viewing at library
Protecting our public
Regarding the mother who protested the viewing of pornography on the library computers in the public areas of the library, I support you. [“Mother challenges viewing of Internet porn at library, NWWednesday, Feb. 1.]
Unless people like you speak up, we cede the public spaces and life of the city to the lowest common denominator.
The library administration should “man up” to its responsibilities for providing a safe and acceptable public environment for all citizens. We do not allow public urination even though some have claimed it was an act of self expression, or a protest against the lack of public restrooms, or many another specious argument. Society has a legitimate interest in providing and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment in public common areas.
The library leaves it up to the viewer to choose to use viewing privacy shields. That is a duplicitous dodge since the primary purpose of the screens is to allow the private viewer freedom from embarrassment at being seen watching porno. Better they screen off an area reserved for porno and restrict it to ages 18 and above, as we do for strip joints.
If the adult patron doesn’t use the privacy shields to keep his porno viewing private, he can hardly protest embarrassment at being moved to the over-18 viewing area.
The library reflects a lazy view of its public duty, and an unwillingness to do what adults like this mother has done — confront uncomfortable problems rather than pass the buck. It has a duty to provide a nonthreatening sexually safe environment every much as binding on it as an employer who must provide a workplace free of sexual harassment and threatening behavior.
At the very least, it should be paying for the psychological counseling this girl may now require.
— Paul Post, Seattle
We need to protect our children
I still feel sick to my stomach and sick at heart after reading Wednesday’s article by Erik Lacitis featuring the experience of the Seattle mom and her 10-year-old daughter who saw images of Internet porn being viewed at the Lakewood branch of the Seattle Public Library.
Why is the of viewing of pornography in a public place even allowed under “constitutionally protected material”?
There is no going back to 10-year-old innocence for this child. Our priority of extreme individual rights has allowed great harm.
If a child’s toy causes injury, or worse, it is immediately taken off the market yet we allow public porn to cause great harm to a child. Why the disconnect?
It is a no brainer in every sense of the word! Pornography in private is having an enormously damaging effect on individuals, families and society but surely we can care for and protect our children and others in public places.
— Jeanette Krantz, Tukwila
Is this really covered under the First Amendment?
I’m all in favor of free speech, and I admire the Seattle Public Library’s commitment to the First Amendment. But surely we can all agree that there are sensible limits to expression that won’t endanger anyone’s fundamental rights.
Does the First Amendment guarantee a person’s right to shriek “Fire!” in a crowded theater? Does the First Amendment guarantee the right of students to swear at teachers during class? Does the First Amendment guarantee the right of dirty old men to watch porno in the public library?
Of course not.
Like Maria Howe, I, too, was shocked to walk past screens full of porno at my local library branch — really crude, disgusting stuff, within view of the nearby children reading “Curious George.”
When I complained to library staff, I, too, was told that the men were simply enjoying their free-speech rights.
I was flabbergasted.
According to the article, library spokeswoman Andra Addison says library has installed “privacy screens” on its computers. I can attest that they don’t work.
Addison says the library might move the computers to a more discreet location. Might I suggest a dark closet in the basement?
— Ben Stocking, Seattle
Why is porn any different from bars and strip clubs?
Bars and strip clubs can’t be built within half a mile of a school or church, but an individual can watch porn publicly in a library?
Our leaders need to step up and take a stand for society’s rights.
— Terry Slaton, Federal Way