June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:54 PM
"Bainbridge Island has just passed an ordinance requiring everyone to wear a helemet when riding a bike, motorcycle, horse or skateboard.The goal of this ordinance is to protect individuals from head injury. That's a fine and noble goal. Drivers in the state of Washington are required to wear a seatbelt and also require their passengers to be appropriately belted or placed in age-appropriate car seats. The goal of this law is to protect individuals from injury or death in car wrecks. That's also a fine and noble goal. Individuals concerned that library computers are being used to view pornography are requesting the library install filters to prevent access to such material by all patrons. The goal of their request is to proect children from inadvertently being exposed to pornography during their visit to the library. Protecting children from pornography is a fine and noble goal. Each of these worthy goals, however, collides directly with a freedom cherished by many individuals. The loss of any freedom is uncomfortable for us. But, the reality is, without helmet and seatbelt laws, many children would be dead or injured. A child's glimpse of a pornographic image is harmful, we agree, but unlikely to cause death or permanent injury. We don't believe the equivalent of a helmet or seatbelt mandate is needed in our libraries. Libraries already voluntarily provide filtered computers for children and monitor children when they are using unfiltered computers. Do we like the idea of an adult viewing pornography in the library? Of course not. But, allowing adults to access information that may be objectionable or offensive to other individuals is far better than the alternative of someone else deciding which information is appropriate for them to read. "