Missouri Family E-News

February 16, 2016

         
Court Says No to Porn Use
on Library
Computers
 

A state appeals court in Wisconsin has ruled that there is no First Amendment right to view pornography in a public library.  The case stems from an incident in 2014 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. 

Students in the McIntyre Library on campus observed that a middle-aged man was using a library computer to view pornographic websites.
They complained to library officials that the man's behavior was a distraction and disruption to their studies.

Police were called, and an officer witnessed the individual, a 45 year-old man named David Reidinger, viewing pornography on a library computer.  He informed Reidinger that he was creating a disturbance. 

When Reidinger insisted on his right to view the sexually explicit material, he was issued a citation for disorderly conduct.  A trial judge later affirmed the officer's action, and fined Reidinger $295.

Reidinger appealed his citation to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Wisconsin. He claimed federal court decisions supported his right to view "legal adult material" in a library open to the public.

"It's a public library, so it's a free speech zone, so you're not protected from speech you don't like," Reidinger asserted.

The appeals court judges disagreed, ruling that there are no U.S. Supreme Court decisions establishing "a First Amendment right to view pornography in a public library or any other public place."

John Politz, Library Director at the Eau Claire campus, agreed with the appeals court's decision.  "We're a public institution and we're a public building so we're open to the community, but not to the extent where it impinges on our student's ability to learn."

More and more cases are emerging across the country in which library users have accessed and viewed pornographic websites in full view of other library patrons.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that Congress could withhold federal funds from libraries that fail to install internet filters on their computers to protect children from pornography.

However, the American Library Association (ALA) has long crusaded for unrestricted access to sexually oriented materials in library settings without age restrictions.

In the ALA's recommended guidelines for public library internet use, the ALA argues that a public library is a limited public forum, and that thus "it is prohibited from exercising discrimination with respect to the content of communication...Internet filters are mechanisms designed to discriminate with respect to the content of communication."

"Adults' reading cannot be reduced to the level of what is fit for children, and the public library, therefore, cannot restrict them to Internet-access computers with filtering software.  Young adults and children also have First Amendment rights," the policy continues.

In characteristic fashion, the American Library Association is distorting the interpretation by federal courts on this issue.  In the 2004 case, U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist was very clear in his majority opinion.

"Because public libraries have traditionally excluded pornographic materials from their other collections, Congress could reasonably impose a parallel limitation on its Internet assistance programs."

In  2010, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld the policy of a rural Washington public library that blocked patrons from viewing pornography with an Internet filter.

The Court's opinion stated:  "A public library has historically enjoyed broad discretion to add to its collection of materials that it will make available to its patrons."

"A public library has never been required to include all constitutionally protected speech in its collection, and has traditionally had the authority to legitimately decline to include adult-oriented material such as pornography in its collection.  The same discretion exists with respect to Internet materials," the opinion concluded.

A U.S. District Court upheld the Washington Supreme Court decision, and dismissed the claims made by the plantiff, the local chapter of the ACLU.

The American Library Association's disgraceful and derelict philosophy has earned it a place once again this year on the "Dirty Dozen" list of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
  

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State House OKs
Proposal to Combat
Human Trafficking

The Missouri House of Representatives has approved legislation which would criminalize the marketing of women and children for sexual trafficking purposes.  The proposal, House Bill 1562, was endorsed by the House without dissent by a vote of 153-0.  The bill is sponsored by Representative Elijah Haahr of Springfield.

"Human trafficking is a billion-dollar business in the United States and around the world," Representative Haahr says.  "It's hard to believe that this form of slavery exists here in our nation and our state in these modern times.  In this technological era, human traffickers can set up shop anywhere."

Under current Missouri law, human trafficking occurs when any person "knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains" a child, or an adult without their consent, for use in a commercial sex act, sexual conduct, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material.

The law prohibits compelling a child or an unwilling adult to engage in such conduct through "force, abduction, coercion, fraud, deception, blackmail, or causing or threatening to cause financial harm."  County and city prosecuting attorneys use these provisions to file charges against those who are agents of human trafficking, and those who benefit financially from the sex trade. 

Representative Haahr's bill would add the crime of "advertising the availability" of a person for sexual trafficking to the state's human trafficking statutes.  The bill is intended to target online web sites that market the willingness of individuals to engage in sexual encounters.  Human trafficking enterprises use these websites to advertise the "sexual services" of women and children whom they have enslaved in the sex trade.

Most state and federal laws dealing with human trafficking were designed to combat human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution.  Sexual traffickers would enslave women and children who would then walk the streets soliciting customers willing to pay for various forms of sexual activity.

In recent years, sexual trafficking has migrated almost exclusively to an online marketplace.  Men willing to purchase "sexual services" can surf "classified ads" on sleazy websites to order the type of woman they want for the type of activity they desire at a location of their choosing. 

The involuntary sexual servitude of many women and girls is no longer limited to prostitution.  Many women are forced to participate in sexual performances at strip clubs, or to participate in the production of pornographic videos, or to perform in online sexually explicit webcasts.

In prior years, law enforcement could monitor prostitutes walking the streets and the sex customers who patronized them.  Nowadays, online sex customers operate out of the physical sight of law enforcement aided by the anonymity made possible by internet-based solicitation.   The child sex trade thrives in this salacious surreptitious environment despite the best efforts of cybercrime units in county sheriff's departments and municipal police departments.

Like Representative Haahr, Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner has been a leader in the legislative battle against human trafficking.  Last spring the U.S. Congress gave final passage to a bill to strengthen federal laws dealing with sex trafficking.  Included in the final bill was a proposal sponsored by Representative Wagner known as the SAVE Act (for Stop Advertising Victims of Sexual Exploitation).

Congresswoman Wagner's measure amended the federal criminal code to prohibit the online advertising of minors for purposes of commercial sexual activity.  Representative Wagner commented at the time that "online customers can order a young girl into their hotel room as easily as if they were ordering a pepperoni pizza."

Representative Wagner extolled the educational elements of the new law intended to curtail the underage sex trade.  Many young girls are lured into the clutches of human traffickers by the prospect of a modeling career.  The teenage girls are then made dependent on their traffickers through drug addiction or physical and emotional abuse.  Many of the young girls are snared through social media websites or contacts.
The focus of much of the anti-trafficking community's ire is the notorious website Backpage.com.  This despicable company is the leading online purveyor of "sex for hire."  It is widely believed that sex with children is being marketed through the website's so-called "escort services." It is estimated that Backpage makes more than $10 million per month from online prostitution advertising.

The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Investigations is conducting a probe into the conduct of Backpage.com.  The company has refused to furnish documents subpoenaed by the committee, and the CEO of Backpage, Carl Ferrer, has refused to testify before the committee.  Members of the committee have now voted to initiate contempt proceedings against the company and Ferrer.

Backpage filed suit in December against the U.S. Attorney General and against the new federal law banning online advertising of illegal sexual conduct.  Congresswoman Wagner is confident that the law will stand up to judicial review.

"For years, Backpage.com and other websites like it have profited off the sexual exploitation of women and children while using legal loopholes to hide their morally repugnant model," Wagner charged.  "No longer will Backpage.com be able to serve as a platform for sex trafficking and exploitation."

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a member of the Senate subcommittee, shared the story of a 15 year-old girl who sought refuge at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.  The young girl stated that she and four other teenage girls had been sold for prostitution at truck stops in Missouri, Florida, Texas, and New Mexico for almost two months.  She said their "services" were being advertised through Backpage.com.

Representative's Haahr's bill was approved by both the House and Senate last year, but died before the session ended because the report of a conference committee was never taken up by the Senate.  Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis has filed similar legislation this year in the Senate.

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