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Should porn be allowed in public libraries?

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It was an ordinary afternoon at the Chinatown branch of the Los Angeles library system. Children were lining up to check out picture books, young adults were reading vampire paperbacks, and sleazy older men were looking at porn on the free computers. Only this time, someone raised a complaint. The result has been a debate about protecting children vs. First Amendment freedom in the library system as a whole, a much more nuanced and interesting response than I would have imagined. 

Everyone pretty much agrees that you shouldn't look at porn at the public library (everyone except for people with libidos and no internet access), but to effectively restrict porn would involve installing an aggressive web-nanny system. Not only would such a system be expensive, it would be clumsy — blocking as many non-porn sites as adult ones. For example, that type of filter would block websites dedicated to breast-cancer awareness and research. And regardless, for many people, restricting information on public computers — utilized in a large part by a low-income community without other venues — feels like a violation of free speech. 

And so they've come up with a pretty pragmatic solution. Leave things the way they are, but move the computers to a less public spot and install privacy screens. Or, as I like to call it, "Don't Ask, Don't Masturbate."