Shut Down the Public Libraries
R. Cort Kirkwood
Supreme Court has published one of those decisions weíre glad about,
but that ultimately drives another nail into the Constitutionís
nine nawabs decided Congress can force public libraries to install
anti-porn software on library computers to protect our little ones
wrong with stamping out porn, but those of us concerned about the
Constitution and the legitimate role of government ask several questions,
not least of which is why local public libraries are a federal responsibility.
answer to that question is the basis of the lawsuit. In 2000, Congress
passed a law forcing libraries to either install porn filters or
lose federal subsidies.
you, I didnít know local libraries received federal subsidies, but
everything else does, so why not bibliotoria?
the Supreme Court says the law is acceptable.
thing is, after all the court costs and legal filings, two justices
suggest the law is permissible if a library can turn off the filter
for patrons who ask.
idea is to ensure legitimate sites arenít blocked for non-porno
patrons, but one wonders what good the filters will do if anyone
can simply ask the librarian to turn them off.
the American Library Association is aghast. It vows to keep fighting
for a pervert's right to view porn on the public dime.
the Federal Governmentís Business
case notwithstanding, a few simple principles of law and philosophy
deserve discussion, not least of which is how this silly case landed
in the Supreme Court.
Everything is a federal issue or gets a federal subsidy, from collecting
child support to writing novels. Congress regulates or subsidizes
on a planetary scale. In this case, another unconstitutional law
generated the predictable, and bogus, free-speech lawsuit.
law is unconstitutional not because the First Amendment protects
a pervertís "right" to view dirty pictures using tax money,
but because the Constitution does not authorize subsidies for public
libraries. Library management isnít among the federal governmentís
many activities our primordial federal law permits.
Constitution, of course, has never stopped a politician from using
it to advance his agenda. The Republicrats relentlessly struggle
for control of Leviathan, and they use unconstitutional laws to
expand its power and buy votes.
subsidies? Oppose them, and you oppose reading.
simplest solution to the library-porn problem is closing the libraries.
one thing, this fight is yet another example of what happens when
we use public money for private purposes. In this case it was reading,
and mostly reading for pleasure at that.
inappropriate use of public money energizes the ceaseless debates
over sex and evolution curricula in public schools, pornography
subsidized by the federal National Endowment of the Arts, or in
this case, federal library funds, and on and on. No one agrees on
how tax money should be spent. Yet if we werenít spending it on
illegitimate projects, we wouldnít have the debates or the lawsuits.
well, taxpayers are not obliged to provide free reading material
to the masses, and public libraries compete with private enterprises
called bookstores (many of which used to run for-profit lending
the do-gooders say people who cannot afford books need libraries.
Fine. Then let the do-gooders pay for them.
line? Congress should cut off the unconstitutional subsidies and
let states and localities support their libraries.
yet, letís abolish them.
columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record
in Harrisonburg, Va.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com
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