Does unrestricted Internet access equal free speech or a pornography free-for-all? This paper attempts to answer this probing question.
When Gloria Morales, a mother of five, took her 5-year-old to Morristown's Joint Free Public Library to pick out a video, the last thing she expected was to unwittingly expose her child to pornography.
"We homeschool and we use the library a lot for projects and videos. I entered the main public room with my son where computers line either side of the aisle. As we walked past, my son glanced over and saw a screen full of pornographic images. I was stunned - physically shaken. It was a very busy evening at the library, and here was someone viewing pornography in the full view of all!"(Star-Ledger) Morales spoke with the librarian about what she had just seen, and to her surprise, the librarian said she was not allowed to say anything about it. Morales was referred to the reference librarian, who told her the same thing.
Morales felt so helpless to do anything about this, but she went home and prayed about it. And the answer came. She clearly felt that the Lord wanted her to take action, even though she didn't feel up to the task. But she was also given the assurance that this was the Lord's battle, not hers. Just as He told Moses to confront Pharoah, He
would speak for Gloria.
She organized a community meeting at her church, in which New Jersey Family Policy Council President Len Deo outlined steps that could be taken to address the issue. Surprising things began to happen. Entirely unsought, she had opportunities to speak to a reporter, and to then gubernatorial candidate Jim McGreevey. Since then, she's taken every opportunity to speak out. She has been interviewed on local cable TV and Christian radio. "I don't have a grand plan of action," she says, " I just try to tell as many people as possible about what is going on in their library. Neighbors need to know about this."(Problem)
In October 2001, Morales went before Morristown's mayor and town council, who voted to draft a resolution requesting the library's board of directors to address the issue. The resolution (which can be viewed at www.njfpc.org) requested the library board to:
• immediately install physical screen protectors, so that the computer monitor can only be viewed by the individual sitting at the terminal;
• obtain legal advice as to what steps can be legally taken to provide library patrons with maximum protection from pornographic and offensive sites;
• take all steps to the extent permitted by law, to assure that patrons who do not wish to view such material on the computers are protected; and
• advise the town in writing when and what steps will be taken to address this problem.
A somewhat softened version of the resolution was adopted by the council on Nov. 20. The revised resolution "supports," not "requires,"
the library to make these changes.