A Local View: Tell libraries to ax porn by voting 'no'

An Anonymous Patron sends us this opinion piece from the Columbian in Vancouver, Washington. A woman there is urging the public to vote no on something (a levy? the article is not too clear, perhaps some Vancouverites can help) to convince the library to stop providing unfiltered internet access to adults. Children's access is already filtered.

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A Vancouverite responds

Yes, we are having a bond measure to expand two of the libraries in the greater Vancouver, WA area. These libraries desperately need to be enlarged - our libraries are woefully too small!

Don't even get me started on these people and their tactics...

Fort Vancouver Regional Library District website

I perceive the confusion

Instead of loudly proclaiming that people should vote "no" to "publicly funded porno", she should have encouraged people to vote "yes" for installing censorware.

What is especially telling, to me, is the way she recounts the anecdote of being a target for the contempt of a group of teens as if the pornography was somehow to blame for it. She made of herself a public person and at least tacitly if not deliberately invited such rude speech by showing complete contempt for those young adults. They merely reciprocated. Of course they used ammuntion they knew very well would push her buttons the hardest.

True to type, she just didn't get it.

Oh, and don't let me forget about how this action very clearly and presently constitutes a slide down the slippery slope.

Re:I perceive the confusion

Fang-Face wrote: What is especially telling, to me, is the way she recounts the anecdote of being a target for the contempt of a group of teens as if the pornography was somehow to blame for it.

I'm wondering how you know that the kids who showed her the porn knew who she was. They may well have, but the article gives us no warrant for inferring that. Seriously, do you have some inside information about this situation?

The single sentence in the piece devoted to this anecdote is quite matter-of-fact and almost entirely unemotional. The one word with any real emotional overtone is "gross", and if she was offended by the printout, it's not clear to me why she shouldn't use it. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I suspect there is some porn out there that might even gross you out.

Fang-Face wrote: She made of herself a public person and at least tacitly if not deliberately invited such rude speech by showing complete contempt for those young adults. They merely reciprocated.

I'm guessing you think she showed the kids contempt by being of the opinion that they shouldn't have access to porn, and that she was therefore "just asking for it." Is that correct? Or do you have some other account of exactly how she invited contempt? I want to understand how generalizable your criteria for inviting contempt are.

Re:I perceive the confusion

I'm wondering how you know that the kids who showed her the porn knew who she was.

I'm wondering why you assume the kids were so stupid they couldn't figure it out? That's pretty much seems to be what her attitude was: "They're just kids, so how intelligent can they possibly be? Obviously they need an 'older and wiser' adult to take care of them and protect them from themselves." Yeah, right. In a pig's eye.

I'm guessing you think she showed the kids contempt by being of the opinion that they shouldn't have access to porn

You guessed wrong. Young adults are not children, as the self-righteous also guess wrong, and even children do not deserve such contempt. Children and young adults are human beings first, last, and always. That young adults are young and largely inexperienced does not make them stupid or incapable of making decisions for themselves and it certainly does not make them (or children) as fragile and vulnerable as the ultra-conservatives would have us believe. If you want learn something about young adults, try:

The Myth of Maturity: What Teenagers Need from Parents to Become Adults Terri Apter -2001 ISBN 0-393-32317-X Dewey # 306.8742 A655M

Harmful To Minors Judith Levine -2002 ISBN 0-8166-4006-8
Dewey # 306.70973 L665H

Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend Jeffrey S. Victor ISBN 0-8126-9191-1 (cloth) Dewey #364.1 V643

At any rate, she showed her contempt for those kids by failing to respect their human dignity and rights as individuals. The porn was only incidental to that. They would have held her in contempt regardless of what specious excuse she used to inflict her self-rightousness on them.

The single sentence in the piece devoted to this anecdote is quite matter-of-fact and almost entirely unemotional.

It's a negative affective connotation. (Language In Thought And Action by S.I. Hayakawa, IIRC.) It was presented in such a way that the unsophisticated reader would draw the conclusion that the pornography had influenced the kids to show disrespect to a full adult. Showing anything but the most abject and immediate obedience to any self-appointed and -annointed authority figure is, to the ultra-conservatives, the sign of a sick and hell bound mind, you see. The idea that a young adult might be able to think for him or herself doesn't enter into the equation.

Why Isn't Ms. Tweet an Activist???

I have been doing a bit of digging with this story. None of the articles I’ve read portray Ms. Tweet as a community activist, but rather more of a headache.

Why mention activist? Because "activists" are given a great deal of acclaim for exercising their First Amendment right to speak out. Particularly when their idea challenges the status quo of knee jerk conservatives. I suppose conservatives by defintion cannot be "activists"?

Reading the posts here, Hollysue appears to support something less than democracy with her comments.
Just what are these tactics? Public debate? And just who are these "people"? Taxpayers?

The nerve.

And Fang. Your suggested twist of Ms. Tweet’s words is nothing less than an attempt to gag her unpopular opinion by duping Hollysue's "people".

Perhaps Ms. Tweet should have posted her comments on Porn Blog? (Is there such a thing? Remember, I'm the LISNews puritan.)

Here are a few other nuggets I came across from the The Columbian (Vancouver, Washington) February 24, 2004.

  • Councilman Dan Tonkovich acknowledged that Internet pornography is a volatile issue, but he said the library system distributes all kinds of materials that have nothing to do with pornography.

    I suppose this statement was to allay parental fears? Good luck next election councilman.

  • Then the mayor weighed, heated with Ms. Tweet’s audacity to exercise the same First Amendment that the porn brokers enjoy in his city’s library. He says,

    "I object to Mrs. Tweet coming to the citizens of the city and telling them how to vote".

    This is the real slippery slope. Stakeholder backlash.

  • assumptions

    It sounds like there's a lot of assumptions going on here - for example:"I soon noticed some kids in Washougal surfing the Web while commenting aloud, and asked the librarian whether children were allowed to access pornography. "Now does it say there that the kids were looking at porn? Were they? Perhaps. But we have no way of knowing that and the article doesn't say whether they were or they were not."In 2001, at the door of the FVRL downtown library, a few boys and girls tossed a gross pornography printout in front of me."Again, we are to assume that the kids got this print-out at the library. Perhaps they did. Or perhaps they printed it out at home. Plus, we have no idea what she saw. Yes, there is nasty porn out there. There are also people who consider scantily clad woman to be porn.As for Tacoma, I don't believe that they fully filter the Internet for adults. You can still access porn, they simply block images. There is plenty of porn to be read in Tacoma. In any case, the US Supreme Court did not uphold filtering for adults and a reading of the decision makes it clear that the Court did not intend for filtering to apply to adults.In summary, Ms. Tweet lumps together a lot of claims and provides too little detail to make any real assessment of her claims.

    Re:I perceive the confusion

    > I'm wondering how you know that the kids who showed her
    > the porn knew who she was.

    I'm wondering why you assume the kids were so stupid they couldn't figure it out?

    I assumed no such thing. Doubtless they are smart enough to figure it out. Kids are smart enough to figure out a lot of things that they never get around to figuring out because they are too busy figuring out a lot of other things. Perhaps in this case they did figure it out, but the op-ed piece gives us no reason to infer that
    they did. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to conclude that it is certain that they did figure it out. I'm just trying to figure
    out how you reached this conclusion: based on objective evidence concerning this case (either from the article or from other knowledge of the situation), or did you assume it to be the case?

    By the way, you also seem to be operating under the premise that the kids who shoved the porn under her (blue) nose are teens or young adults. Again, the op-ed piece says nothing about teens or young adults, and frankly that stunt sounds a lot more like middle school kids to me than high school kids. Absent actual evidence that they knew who she was, I say it sounds as much like immature kids trying to shock some random adult as it does some planned ambush of the church lady.

    That's pretty much seems to be what her attitude was: "They're just kids, so how intelligent can they possibly be?

    That's interesting. You seem to think that ultra-cons like Tweet equate moral & ethical maturity with intelligence, and moral immaturity with stupidity. I don't know how else to explain what I quote from you immediately above. In my experience, ultra-cons like James Dobson seem to place more weight on emotional maturity than they do on intellectual maturity.

    That young adults are young and largely inexperienced does not make them stupid or incapable of making decisions for themselves and it certainly does not make them (or children) as fragile and vulnerable as the ultra-conservatives would have us believe.

    I'm sure you agree that rights and responsibilities should grow with a child's maturity. An 8-year-old shouldn't be permitted to handle firearms unsupervised. A 12-year-old shouldn't be entrusted with the vote. 16-year-olds shouldn't distill corn liquor without adult supervision. Oddly enough, the ultra-conservative families I know seem to operate on this principle. I hadn't noticed that their children were essentially non-entities until they reached majority. But doubtless your powers of observation are keener than
    mine.

    I am grateful for the recommended reading, by the way. I have a personal interest in the topic and I will add these books to my reading list. I may end up forming a different judgement of their correctness from yours--would that make me evil, stupid, or ultra-conservative? Or would I still be okay?

    At any rate, she showed her contempt for those kids by failing to respect their human dignity and rights as individuals. The porn
    was only incidental to that.

    I realize every kid is different, but at about what age in your estimation do kids typically reach the point when they are mature enough to decide to consume pornography? At what age are they typically mature enough to own handguns? Purchase securities? Take out a mortgage? Choose to convert to Christianity (if their parents are atheists)? Choose to convert to neo-paganism (if their parents are Christians)? Does adult judgement play any role in deciding when they are old enough to do these things if they choose, or is it incumbent upon adults to accept the child's say-so that they have reached that age? If a child of convinced pro-choice parents decides for whatever reason that she opposes abortion and must, in order to be ethically consistent, picket abortion clinics, are the parents showing contempt for the child if they seek to prevent her from doing so?

    > The single sentence in the piece devoted to this anecdote
    > is quite matter-of-fact and almost entirely unemotional.

    It's a negative affective connotation. (Language In Thought And Action by S.I. Hayakawa, IIRC.) It was presented in such a way that the unsophisticated reader would draw the conclusion that the pornography had influenced the kids to show disrespect to a full adult.

    I'm surprised you would attribute that level of sophistication to an ultra-con, to be able to employ such rhetorical devices. Frankly, I thought her writing was rather bland.

    The idea that a young adult might be able to think for him or herself doesn't enter into the equation.

    So what happens when the child becomes an adult: the ultra-con parent flicks a switch at the age of majority, and the child suddenly thinks for himself, and is then entitled to marry, and program his or her own child-bots?

    Re:I perceive the confusion

    So what happens when the child becomes an adult: the ultra-con parent flicks a switch at the age of majority ...

    As near as I can tell, yes, but only in theory. The ultra-conservative bent is toward authoritarianism. The ultra-conservative would still maintain control over the adult child even after flipping that switch. You can see that in the fact that the person under discussion isn't happy with allowing full adults access to porn. What adults are allowed to access must also be controlled in the name of protecting the children. This action is the diametric opposite to anarchy. What makes you a free person is that you have sole authority over and responsibility for your own self. And authority and responsibility are concomittants; you can't have one without the other. In anarchy, individuals practice authority, but abdicated responsibility. In authoritarianism, the state takes upon itself authority over your life, but apportions to you responsibility for failing for to live up to the standards of the state.

    Re:Why Isn't Ms. Tweet an Activist???

    I suppose conservatives by defintion cannot be "activists"?

    Of course she's an activist, but "activist" is a broad categorization. Calling someone a censorship advocate or a civil liberties advocate (read: knee-jerk reactionary or bleeding heart liberal) simply narrows down the field. As for her First Amendment right to oppose porn, it stops where my life begins. She isn't just saying that she is opposed to pornography, she is actively attempting to usurp other people's right to access such msterial of their own free will and volition.

    Re:I perceive the confusion

    Hi, Chuck.

    Found some time during the day to answer the rest of your points.

    > Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to conclude that it is certain that
    > they did figure it out.

    What factors can you point to that suggest I should have concluded otherwise?

    Look, Chuck, this is not rocket science. Tweet was newsworthy for her stance,
    and probably exploited the broadcast media to get her message out. Given what
    else I know about adolescent behaviour (some of which is covered in Satanic
    Panic) and factoring in Occam's Razor, the conclusion that the assailants were
    elementary school children who performed a random act of stupidity is beyond the
    pale.

    > or did you assume it to be the case?

    Ah. So you didn't make assumptions about the intelligence of the assailants
    but everybody else is making assumptions about this incident? Sauce for the
    goose is sauce for the gander, don't forget.

    It's a conclusion. An assumption based on an assessment of the evidence, as
    opposed to an assumption based upon one's opinion.

    > Again, the op-ed piece says nothing about teens or young adults, and
    > frankly that stunt sounds a lot more like middle school kids to me than
    > high school kids.

    Depends on how you define young adults, I suppose. I eschew artificial
    distinctions such as "legal adult" except when it is necessary to invoke such a
    distinction. For me, adulthood does not start when a person has hit some magic
    number in their age bracket, it is a matter of biological development. A person
    stops being a child and becomes an adult biologically at menarche, for girls,
    and the start of nocturnal emissions, for boys. And I bet that I am almost
    certainly the only person in North America to make such a distinction.

    Then too, there is the matter of neotony, which you can read about in The
    Human Zoo, by Desmond Morris. Due to sociological factors, we operate almost
    completely at odds with neotony. In anthropology, this is the length of time an
    individual specimen grows and develops to attain maturity and independence. It
    used to be twelve to fourteen years for humans, and there are echoes of that
    recognition still extant today. Particularly in the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah
    where the prospective adult stands up in f ront of friends and congregation and
    proclaims: today, I am an adult. Juliet Capulet was thirteen when her father
    said, in Act I scene iii I think it was, that it was past time that girl was
    getting married. In those days, children were raised to be functioning adults by
    the time they were old enough to breed. Contemporary society is too complex to
    allow for raising children by that method, but the species hasn't evolved new
    coping mechanisms yet, and will never be able to do so because society evolves
    too quickly, and the artificial distinction created by a "legal" age of majority
    violates neotony by extending that period an additional four to six years.

    Personally, I put the blame on teenage suicide squarely on these factors.
    That's how bad I think the consequences are. At any rate, it puts a great deal
    of stress on young adults who ought to be recogized as adults and contributing
    members of society. Because they are not granted full authority over
    themselves, they tend to kick back. That stunt is perfectly in keeping with
    these ideas.

    Also, the young adult demographic for the publishing business starts at age
    12.

    > > That's pretty much seems to be what her attitude was: "They're just kids,
    > > so how intelligent can they possibly be?

    > That's interesting. You seem to think that ultra-cons like Tweet equate
    > moral & ethical maturity with intelligence, and moral immaturity with
    > stupidity.

    That has been the consistent pattern of behaviour which I have discerned.
    Censorship by ultra-conservatives is almost invariably based on the idea that
    people are too weak in the mind (read: vulnerable) to be able to deal with
    "porn" or "objectionable" material. The censorship advocate always assumes,
    however, that he or she is quite strong enough to root out such material without
    suffering psychic or spiritual damage.

    That has changed marginally since the passage of COPA six years ago. Since
    about that time, the movement to censor what adults view has been based less
    upon adults being wickedly influenced by it and more upon the "Harmful To
    Minors" assumption. That's because efforts to ban material on the grounds that
    adults were influenced by porn invariably failed First Amendment challenge.

    > I don't know how else to explain what I quote from you immediately above.
    > In my experience, ultra-cons like James Dobson seem to place more weight on
    > emotional maturity than they do on intellectual maturity.

    We are probably at odds over a nuance on that score. According to a study
    Teri Apter cited the overwhelming majority of people do not mature emotionally
    beyond sixteen years old. Of course, most everybody assumes that older
    automatically denotes wiser.

    > I'm sure you agree that rights and responsibilities should grow with a
    > child's maturity. An 8-year-old shouldn't be permitted to handle firearms
    > unsupervised.

    No, of course not, but the key word there is "unsupervised". Let us assume
    for the sake of this discussion that a group of gun control nuts say that you
    are forbidden to teach your eight year old weapons handling because he's too
    young. Who is better qualified to decide whether your child is in fact old
    enough; you or them? By what right do they usurp your parental perogative to
    make a choice with which they do not agree? Now let's take the exercise a step
    further and have the gun control nuts say that y ou are not allowed to handle a
    weapon because some crimes are committed using handguns. This is analogous to
    what Ms. Tweet wants by requiring your surfing to be filtered.

    > A 12-year-old shouldn't be entrusted with the vote.

    Probably not, but a fourteen year old can be if he is raised to be able to
    vote by 14 from the very start. I would certainly have allowed my daughter to
    vote as an adult when she was 14.

    > 16-year-olds shouldn't distill corn liquor without adult supervision.

    Sixteen year olds certainly can be entrusted to distill corn liquor safely if
    you've taught them how to. Most any farm boy should able to cook up a batch of
    mash without blowing himself to perdition or drinking himself blind. Farm boys
    are generally raised doing "man's" work.

    > Oddly enough, the ultra-conservative families I know seem to operate on
    > this principle. I hadn't noticed that their children were essentially
    > non-entities until they reached majority. But doubtless your powers of
    > observation are keener than mine.

    Probably not; I have been studying the censorship movement for several
    years now. I have a head start and a broad database against which to measure
    current incidents.

    > I am grateful for the recommended reading, by the way. I have a personal
    > interest in the topic and I will add these books to my reading list. I may
    > end up forming a different judgement of their correctness from yours--would
    > that make me evil, stupid, or ultra-conservative? Or would I still be okay?

    All I ask of anybody is that they make up their own mind, but to do that they
    must necessarily first think. Most folks prefer to simply react. Actually
    considering new evidence and changing a preconceived notion is a resource
    intensive task. Lots of folks simply can't afford the time and energy. Those who
    are going to agitate for changes in society, activists, must learn how to think
    as part of their efforts. The thing about ultra-consveratism is that actually
    thinking is antithetical to it. The only way to actually think is to question
    what you know. Ultra-conservatism in particular is based on blindly accepting
    what you are told and never doubting or questioning it.

    If you're willing to read the books then you are way ahead of the game.
    Formulate your own opinions and be damned what anyone else has to say.

    > I realize every kid is different, but at about what age in your estimation
    > do kids typically reach the point when they are mature enough [...]. Does
    > adult judgement play any role in deciding when they are old enough to do
    > these things if they choose, or is it incumbent upon adults to accept the
    > child's say-so that they have reached that age?

    As you say, each child is different. And that means that each child must be
    judged according to his or her own merits. That's an ideal, however, and I'm not
    sure we can do that. It would be terribly resource intensive and would
    necessitate retooling the entire educational system. Hell, we can't even get
    those idjits in gubmint to fund education properly.

    For my money, though, the age of majority should be set to an apprenticeship
    system with rights to vote and have sex at fourteen and various other
    responsibilities apportioned with the end of full franchisement. Even that
    little is not going to happen either, however. Makes too much sense.

    > If a child of convinced pro-choice parents decides for whatever reason that
    > she opposes abortion and must, in order to be ethically consistent, picket
    > abortion clinics, are the parents showing contempt for the child if they
    > seek to prevent her from doing so?

    At the very least they are failing to respect her right to her own opinion.
    All too often we try to live vicariously through our children and/or expect them
    to be perfect carbon copies of ourselves. I think, however, that the key to your
    question is: how did this young woman come to have her own opinion in the first
    place? Her parents must have brought her up to think for herself.

    Taking those factors into consideration, I would probably say, "no", they are
    not showing contempt for her; they're just ticked off. But then, it depends on
    what lengths they go to to try to stop her and to punish her for having ideas of
    her own.

    Re:I perceive the confusion

    The ultra-conservative bent is toward authoritarianism.

    Am I an ultra-conservative? Let's see, I'm a conservative Christian who thinks children have no business looking at "cumshots" and sheep rape, and I plan to do whatever is in my power to keep my child from doing so, so I must be an authoritarian. But wait, I agree with conservative Christians Joel Miller and Gary Kunsman that the war on drugs is wrongheaded and that drugs should be decriminalized. Maybe I'm not so authoritarian after all. But then again, I am pro-life, so I must be an authoritarian. But wait, I don't oppose abortion because I want to control women's bodies (after all, I think women have the same right to smoke crack as men), but rather because I believe the fetus is a human life, so maybe my opposition to abortion isn't because I'm an authoritarian. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to be consistent; perhaps that explains why I think Ron Paul & John Whitehead may have a point in their criticisms of the Patriot Act.

    What makes you a free person is that you have sole authority over and responsibility for your own self.

    If you believe that a person has sole authority over himself, then you must reject the notion that the state ever has a right to punish a person for rape, murder, theft, etc.

    In anarchy, individuals practice authority, but abdicated responsibility.

    I'm guessing that you'll find a lot of anarchists who disagree with this statement.

    Re:I perceive the confusion

    Am I an ultra-conservative?

    Irrelevant. You can be as ultra-conservative as you want to be as long as you do not expect me to live according to the dictates of your conscience. I am free to be as sinful or as ultra-conservative as I wish and it's nobody's business but mine. This is where the authoritarians screw up. They are not satisified with just the authority to run their own lives, they want to run everybody else's too.

    then you must reject the notion that the state ever has a right to punish a person for rape, murder, theft, etc.

    No, I do not. When you inflict yourself on someone else that is a crime. When you inflict yourself on yourself, like by mainlining heroin or snorting coke up your nose, that is not criminal, that is only stupid.

    I'm guessing that you'll find a lot of anarchists who disagree with this statement.

    I'm sure I will. I don't care two figs on a barren tree if I do. It's a handy frame of reference I use when juggling complex concepts. When I come up with a better term I'll use that new one instead.

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