BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Library visitors in Maryland see an “access denied” message when they try to view pornographic websites.  But in New York, thanks to a freedom of speech policy, it’s legal. 

Gigi Barnett reports it’s a move that has libraries here on edge.

Walk into any library in New York and it’s an anything-goes policy.  Visitors there can view full-fledged pornography on public computers.  The library system there says it’s free speech, protected by the First Amendment.  Try the same thing in Maryland, and it’s access denied.

“We can’t accommodate anyone who wants to look at pornography,” said Enoch Pratt spokesman Roswell Encina.

Encina says the library blocks porn to protect children.  The filters are federal law.

“Any public library–including ourselves–that receives federal funding for Internet access, it clearly states that the library needs to put some sort of filters on their computers to prohibit minors from having access,” Encina said.

But in Maryland, it’s not just federal law that blocks pornography from these computers, it’s also state law.

Some library visitors, like Mary Kelly, says illicit websites don’t belong in the public library.

“Pornography is dangerous, in my opinion, for children,” Kelly said.

But others say if it’s contained and controlled, it’s OK.

“Maybe they can have a time limit when the kids aren’t in there or maybe a small section where you can go and look at your pornography,” said Michael Douglas.

Enoch Pratt says about 30 percent of its visitors use the computers.

Comments (103)
  1. Pete Griffin says:

    I’m glad that there is a state and federal law against this!

  2. Tammy says:

    Heelooooo, Is anyone here really thinking? Who funds the libraries? We do people….Which means that my tax money is providing you with porn. We have a how many dollar deficit in this country and my tax money is going for you to use a public computer to view porn??????? What is wrong with this pic?

  3. Sad says:

    Photos of naked women is not speech. If you wish to say “I feel that women are objects that I use to jack off” then that is your free speech right. To do it in the public library is NOT YOUR RIGHT and it is not free speech.
    What next, little dark rooms so you can go and enjoy you some “free speech” with your pants unzipped? Will they have little hand sanitizer dispensers and kleenexes for your “free speech” pleasure? Then will they have a room where you can lure a child from the YA or childrens section to “speak freely” together? Where is your common sense, people?

  4. Diane King says:

    This whole argument seems absurd to me. They have places that porno can be viewed, adult bookstores and adult toy stores. That’s where this kind of activity belongs. But the library??? I imagine it would be quite disturbing for most people to walk by and see some guy getting all hot and bothered while porn is showing on the computer screen. And I would question the judgement of any guy who would actually go into a library environment and partake in porn viewing.

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