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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Stop hiding behind the 1st Amendment

    On our campus, the First Amendment is being used as a shield to propagate sexual harassment.

    As it stands now, not only can you view porn in the library, but the library will support you. It even declares its support on its Web site, saying, “”It is neither illegal nor against library rules for customers to view pornography … on the web.””

    While most people recognize the importance of respecting their fellow students, that’s not enough for a library hiding under the American Library Association Code of Ethics.

    The code states, “”We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.”” By sheltering itself with a well-meaning but grossly misused code, the UA is creating an environment that is not conducive to learning – one of the ultimate goals of an academic institution.

    Libraries stand their ground when they protect porn because they see censorship somewhere as a precursor to censorship everywhere. But eliminating porn from public places will not lead to the burning of books, the banning of “”Of Mice and Men”” or the indoctrination of children by propagandist history books.

    While it’s admirable that the library strives against censorship in order to protect the voice of the minority, it has gone too far. The library should be liable and open to lawsuits, because although it may be “”upholding”” the First Amendment, it is breaking Arizona laws by doing so.

    Some of these laws refer to minors, which may make them seem trivial since the library is on a university campus. But minors are present everywhere on our campus – as incoming freshmen, as high school visitors and as guests on campus. We mustn’t forget the UA library is a public library. The library does have a policy banning unsupervised children under 15 years old, but it neglects the 15- to 17-year-old age group.

    According to Arizona law, “”delinquency”” refers to “”any act which tends to

    debase or injure the morals, health or welfare of a child.”” Providing a minor with the opportunity to view pornography in a place like the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center could certainly injure a child’s morals or welfare. By this standard, the library may be guilty of contributing to the delinquency of minors.

    Would it make you uncomfortable if someone next to you were looking at graphic sex scenes while you were trying to study? If so, you just may have a case against the deep-pocketed UA. Companies have been sued on the grounds of sexual harassment because employees have displayed sexually explicit material in public spaces. Because those companies are negligent in their duty to provide safe work environments, they can be held just as liable as the individual employees who display the offensive material.

    Another Arizona law states that a person is guilty of a class 6 felony if he fails to take “”prompt action”” to remove sexual material from his property. The statute most likely was created to protect people from having to see 20-foot breasts on a billboard, but the text explicitly labels viewing screens (monitors) in minor-accessible areas as such property – and public libraries fall under that umbrella.

    There is a solution to the issue at hand: The library should control its environment. Although it has a duty to protect against censorship, it also has a duty to create a safe environment. The library should set aside areas for unrestricted Internet access – that would represent a happy compromise that doesn’t infringe on First Amendment rights.

    Any case of censorship must be handled with the greatest of care, but that does not mean it shouldn’t be handled at all. The library must control its environment while protecting against censorship – but it must find a way to do so before our tuition dollars start going to lawyer fees.


    Mike Morefield is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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