The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history. - Carl Rowan
Once upon a time, I would not have thought of myself as a responsible, forthright citizen. Hell, I would have given myself better odds of becoming a wanted felon than growing up.
But here I am.
On 2001-01-17, I was appointed to the Library Board of the City of Northfield, MN, USA. I had survived several interviews with the Mayor, not knowing a soul, really, in town, and the daunting task of getting the application in on time. Well, it would have been daunting to the old me. The new me, apparently, doesn't suffer from this fate.
Sure, I know what you're thinking. "The Library Board? Why would you want to be on the Library Board?" And five years ago, I would have agreed with you. Things have changed however, and I have come to see a Library Board (LB) as one of the more important boards a town can have.
And it all boils down to something that I absolutely abhor - internet filtering. The US Congress, in all it's imperialistic, federalistic wisdom, has decided that certain parts of funding for public libraries must be accompanied by 'internet filters' on the computers of said library.
The idiocy of this to anyone who knows anything about computers (not a handicap suffered in Washington) is readily obvious. Filtering simply doesn't work. It either lets everything through and filters almost nothing or it becomes something that refuses to display any page with the word 'breast' in it, including this one. There are a million ways to beat filters (Heck, I even wrote one last year...) and the people most likely to understand and have the ability to implement this are exactly the people that this is aimed at: our nations "innocent", malleable youth.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating Penthouse subscriptions for six year olds. What I am advocating is the protection of normal citizen's rights against those with (presumably) 'good intentions'. The protection of precious library dollars so that they may be spent purchasing more books rather than buying proprietary 'filtering' software suites. The protection for individual people to decide what they and their children see, read, experience and learn against those that would make those decisions for us.
What's the old saying? "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"? Well, I've seen this road being laid right past my front door and I've decided to come outside and do something about it.
And if you care, you can too.