Definition of Terms, Please

July 9th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

As it turns out, it’s not too early to get political. Must be the extra-strong coffee we made. We start with the eternal question: what is pornography? Take a moment, fix an image in your mind. Okay, now that we all have the same image, the same idea, let’s move to filter it. What? You think the statue of David is pornographic? Are you nuts? That’s art. Sure, he’s nekkid, but, dammit, he’s artistic.

And you over there, what are you thinking? Those Bettie Page shots (we really are in a Jazz Butcher mood) are not classics. Bondage is not art. Really, if you can’t understand the basic differences between smut and safe content, you cannot participate in this filtering exercise. And so it goes.

We wish there were a way to protect kids from adult content on the Internet; heck, often we wish we could protect ourselves from some of the more…interesting…items we encounter. We’re simply not convinced that filtering works (especially after the husband’s ill-fated filtering experiment — sure, it’s fine to test things, but to cut us off from our favorite sites?). And we absolutely believe librarians can’t and shouldn’t act as babysitters. And then there’s the public funding issue. If we pay our taxes, including that never disputed additional library assessment, we certainly have a right to utilize the resources as we see fit.

This is a problem without a good answer. Filtering is blind — as far as we know, there is no technology that can “look” at a photograph and make a decision about its merit. Perhaps there are filters that can “read” content and determine it’s adult level, but we suspect this isn’t possible either. Protecting children is the best of all possible ideas; but who is making the decisions here?

File Under: Square Pegs