Now Showing at the Library: Porn

Sunday, June 25, 2006

While the debate rages over what to do with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and whether we need a new central library for the city, a larger concern is being ignored: Internet porn at the library.

When I walked into the West End Branch Library on 24th Street NW last week, several men were sitting at the computers, looking at hard-core pornography on the Internet. Meanwhile, children on the other side of the room were also using computers. One child was running around behind the men, who were studiously observing the most intimate parts of a woman's body and couples performing sexual acts. I was sickened. I told a librarian that the library should at least limit such use to certain hours when children probably wouldn't be there. She said there are no limits whatsoever on the use of the Internet.

This is absolutely disgraceful.

Do we really want our children to have their first view of pornography at the library? At least, some of these computers should be put where no one else is able to see the screen. But a far better answer -- and an answer that speaks to a healthy future for our city -- is to prohibit the use of the library for such purposes.

The librarian I talked to was as disgusted as I was, but she had her orders. What appalls me is the utter hypocrisy of those who allow this to go on in the name of liberty. Those who rationalize this in the name of the First Amendment are the true pornographers -- not those who run the Web sites.

No one should have to see Internet porn in the library even for a moment unless it's one's choice, just as no one should be forced to open a book that is offensive. More important, the library has no right to expose children to this filth, destroying their innocence in the institution that is supposed to nurture their minds.

-- Laurence Leamer


© 2006 The Washington Post Company