Pornography engages people on many levels. Some people enjoy pornography while others believe that the world would be best without it. Some would think that a song like It's Nice to be Nude is a cute song that is celebrating the joys of the human body. Others may think that it is obscene and not worth listening to.
Pornography is highly subjective in respect to what it is, how it is defined, and its merits. The intent of this paper is to discuss pornography in a historical context and how it affects librarians in regards to its presence on the Internet.
Definitions: Getting to Know All About "It"
The word pornography originates from the Greek pornographes meaning literally "the writing of harlots."1 Pornography received official recognition as part of the English vocabulary in 1857 with the word's inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary.2 It is used "descriptively to refer to sexually explicit writings and pictures."3
Filthy, indecent, offensive to modesty or decency, expressing or suggesting lewd thoughts.4
The practice of suppressing or deleting material considered to be objectionable.5
According to the American Library Association, Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual both to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause, or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive, and disseminate ideas. It is a core value of the library profession and a co...
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...ftware to deny access to pornographic sites.55 The installation of filters is often community driven; however, the United States government is also attempting to force libraries to purchase filters in exchange for access to E-rate funds.56In response, librarians have taken to the courts to defend their autonomy and First Amendment rights. As well, libraries have been forced to create appropriate use policies to guide internet use.57
Pornography will remain a constant issue as long as it is part of the human experience. The most important question that pornography raises is to what extent will certain groups go to eradicate it? Are people willing to forego hard-earned rights and freedoms, including their own right to intellectual freedom? To what extent are people willing to curtail the very institutions, such as libraries, that they value?
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