blog Time Hath Found Us: The Devil and the ALA / ACLU

April 22, 2005

The Devil and the ALA / ACLU

I sometimes think I should consider changing the name of this blog to Stop The American Library Association. That seditious sham of an organization has absolutely no regard for the online protection of children in the library systems of the United States. Worse, the ALA has outright contempt for responsible parents and concerned citizens who dare question their precious policy of minimally complying with the CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act.)

Today, the ALA posted a "news" item titled: ACLU Report Finds "Troubling" Use of Filters in R.I. Libraries. The report, written by the ACLU, opens like this:

"The public library has been historically a vital instrument of democracy and opportunity in the United States.... Our history has been greatly shaped by people who read their way to opportunity and achievements in public libraries." - Arthur M. Schlesinger

"Quite simply one can smell a rat when a library blocks material already in its control, just as we do when a library removes books from its shelves for reasons having nothing to do with wear and tear, obsolescence or lack of demand." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter

Did you catch that? A subtle setting of moral equivalence. Schlesinger's noble praising of determination and education equated to Souter's utter cluelessness. Justice Souter's statement comes from the minority opinion of the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the constitutionality of CIPA in June of 2003 - a case litigated and lost by the ACLU. In his statement Souter shows his profound lack of understanding of the nature of the internet. Since when is internet pornography or, for that matter, any internet content already in a public library's control? The use of the Souter quote after the Schlesinger quote also shows the deceptive tactics used by the ACLU.

The report goes on to try to discredit internet filtering software manufacturers and their products. This is a favorite tactic of the ACLU and the ALA. I suppose that they figure that we are all idiots and won't check up on their claims. I am sorry to disappoint them but not only have I checked, I have worked in the internet security arena since 1993 so I know very well what the state of filtering was and is.

A big gun of the ACLU/ALA is a piece - I can't call it a study - done by Peacefire.org. The name is a dead giveaway to this organization's agenda. Here is the header of their web site:

How to disable your blocking software Why we do this
You'll understand when you're younger

"You'll understand when you're younger" ... There is a motto which screams reason, attention to detail and objectivity. Nevertheless, the ACLU and the ALA have used this BS-passing-as-data for years in court cases, press releases and "news" stories.

I'll analyze one of the "case studies" (aka total BS) from the report. I choose WebSense since I ran their engineering department in 1997 & 1998. At that time I had the pleasure of dealing with the dweebs at peacefire so I know whereof I speak. The ACLU report says:

Websense literature touts its "master database" of "more than 6 million sites" ...
[...]
The database's accuracy, however, has been subject to question since free-speech watchdog groups began monitoring it in the late 1990s. The most recent report, re-leased in 2001 by Peacefire.org, found inexplicable blocks on, among others, an educational site about autism (blocked as "gambling"), the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania (blocked as "sex"), and a religious ministry site (blocked as "tasteless").
[...]
During a recent session at the Providence Public Library, the author of this report was denied access to, among other sites, the official web site of famed, if controversial, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe; a health web site for men; and an interview with actor Peter Sellers because it appeared on Playboy's web site.

Ha! I particularly like the last example. The author wanted to read Playboy online for the articles!

Kidding aside, if this is their best shot then you go, right now, and buy the WebSense product (no, I don't own any of their stock.) By my precise calculations, the best the ACLU/ALA could do in their scathing report was to prove that WebSense is 99.9999% accurate, and I gave them Mapplethorpe and the "web site for mens health" - wink, wink. Obviously nothing is that accurate but, I know for a fact that most non-homeuser grade filtering software packages are very, very accurate.

Why does the ALA/ACLU engage in this kind of deception and resist protecting children online in PUBLIC libraries? I don't know, but can you trust these people with your children? You shouldn't, and I am convinced they don't care.