First I owe a debt of gratitude to the many friends and family members who provided moral support and advice in the days leading up to this meeting.
Thank you Snowflake for proof-reading my notes and helping me remove the LDS specific references that would have been confusing to a non-LDS audience.
Most importantly, thank you Victoria for talking me into going in the first place and then attending with me. Because of you I never really felt like a "lone dissenter". The more nervous I became the more convinced I became that this was the right thing to do.
Here are few links to news clips and articles about the Library board meeting.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution
CBS 46 video
Gwinnett Daily Post
And here are my notes from my presentation:
I’d like to start by thanking the Library Board for this opportunity to speak.
In response to the fervor around this issue I asked the board for a chance to publicly state that I agree with the current policy on internet use at the public libraries
I realize that there are many people in attendance today who will not understand my position. I hope that I will be able to convince you that I agree with the moral values you are trying to teach. I simply disagree with your strategy and ultimately whose job it is to teach them.
I have been a patron of the
With these credentials you may find it surprising that I support the current internet use policy. The truth is I get very scared when any one group tries to decide what is moral and correct for somebody else.
I respect your use of internet filters that would prohibit illegal images to be displayed. However, the stated goal of my opposition today is to restrict the legal access by adults to images that they find objectionable.
This is where I draw the line. When it comes to legal websites that may simply contain material that may be objectionable to someone else, I could give you a long list of images that I personally find to be objectionable but I do not expect the library to restrict access to this legal information simply because I object to it.
On the other hand in the past year I have read many books and accessed websites about the evils of polygamy. I have recently read a book which details the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in
If taken out of context by a passerby I can think of many situations that could be described as vulgar or pornographic but taken in context are far from it.
A medical student viewing an anatomy website.
A criminal justice student looking at crime scene photos.
A nervous mother-to-be viewing images of child-birth.
A teenager viewing a youtube.com video about how to protect herself from date-rape.
A mother looking for more information about a surgery that her child is about to undergo.
A woman afraid she might have breast cancer viewing a site with details on how to give a self examination.
My church preaches modesty in dress and as such we discourage two piece bathing suits and any outfit that shows any part of a woman’s torso. As such will any image that includes a belly button be filtered?
Some cultures require even more covering for their women that the Amish. Some find any visible female skin to be offensive. I have sat next to library patrons several times who were wearing full burkas. Should we filter based on their morality?
The dilemma here is that if we allow legal images to be restricted based on morality, then whose morality do we use? There is no way that the library can be expected to shield other patrons from accidentally viewing material that anybody may find objectionable.
My family already has filters in place to protect our children. Those filters are my wife and myself. We have educated our children as to what behavior is acceptable and what books and websites we will not allow to be viewed. They know that if someone else is involved in behavior that we find immoral that they are to walk away and not participate. The images that I described above are already available in countless books in the library system and every single day, during warm weather, my son has to walk into the library and see girls that he believes are immodestly dressed.
The library system is not a baby-sitting service and the librarians are not our children’s nannies. Get involved in their lives. Attend the library yourself. Help them select the books and websites that they choose to read. If they are old enough to leave them unattended show up early to pick them up periodically and see what they have been doing. In short, let’s do our job as parents. Let’s not surrender our parental responsibility to a software package, the librarians and the county government.
This is where I ran out of time but I felt it was just a good a way to end as any so I simply said thank you and sat down.
These are the few paragraphs that I had to leave out:Just this week my wife and I found out that a popular, award winning children’s book had themes that we disagree with. We will not allow our children to read that material and we have educated them as to why so in the future they will be able to make that decision for themselves. As offensive as this particular book is I am sure that there is not a single software package out there that could make this decision for us. No filtering software can protect my family from immorality. That’s why I am acting as that filter and I am teaching my children to filter themselves based on our own morality and not someone else’s arbitrarily assigned values.
Please continue to allow me to be in control of what I decide to view while using library resources. Our country’s founders would be proud that you have chosen to stand up for the first amendment and refuse to censor this media.
I believe that our freedom of choice is a sacred trust that was given to me by my God. I honor Him by choosing as He would wish, not by restricting the ability of others to choose good over evil.