Update – take time to browse through the comments on this post. They’re that good. So far, comments include one person who agrees with the board, someone trying to compromise, much wondering aloud about what the library plans to censor next, discussion about the futility of censoring a single social networking site, one person who seemed to find the censoring a bigoted act, and even one anonymous Wake County employee. Wow.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners has decided “all public computers will now be banned” from visiting MySpace, because MySpace is apparently an “attractive nuisance.” The county “may start censoring other ‘nuisance’ websites on the web in a few months.”
Here’s what the Board states on their Hot Topics page: “Although myspace has many legitimate uses, it also serves as an attractive nuisance for those who gather in the libraries for purposes other than using the resources and collections for recreation, lifelong learning or cultural purposes. Some have used myspace in libraries to recruit gang members, to sell or purchase drugs, or to view or post pornography.”
Second, on Legitimate Uses of MySpace:
The article and the County’s press release page didn’t list legitimate or non-legitimate uses of MySpace – they only claimed that there were both. For kicks, here’s a small list of “legitimate” uses of MySpace:
- Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
- Brooklyn College Library
- Clark County Public Library
- Sabatini Gallery – an art gallery
- Young Friends of the Kansas City Public Library
- The AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
- Urban Book Group (a book discussion group)
- Lauren, a teen fiction writer
- The Passion (a rock band)
- Desperation Church – a church!
Third: Content Container vs. Actual Content:
MySpace is a content container. The actual content is found on the millions of individual MySpace pages – some not terribly offensive, others pretty offensive to some groups. However, does it make sense to ban the content CONTAINER, when the majority of actual content found in MySpace isn’t terribly offensive? I don’t think so.
Why? Because logically, that argument allows for other content containers to also be banned. Hmm… can you, dear reader, possibly think of other content containers that might contain content that some library customers might find offensive?
HOW ABOUT BOOKS?
No – I don’t really think Wake County wants to ban books. But I also don’t think their decision is ultimately a logical one.
What do you think?