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Lawmakers: Pornography has ‘permeated our society,’ library filters backed

Idaho libraries would be required to filter Internet access for adults, under legislation that just passed the House on a 63-7 vote and headed to the Senate; they're already required by federal law to filter Internet access for children. Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, said a group called "Citizens for Decency" brought the idea to him. "As a result, I've done a lot of personal research into this topic," he told the House. "My personal research has convinced me that pornography poses one of the greatest destructive forces ... on the youth."

Under the bill, HB 205, local library boards could set their own policies for whether adults doing "legitimate research" could request to have the filtering turned off or not. Shirley said librarians opposed the bill, in part because of concerns about costs and about the 1st Amendment, but he said others supported it. At one small library, he said, "Big lumberjacks would come in from out in the timber and get into material they shouldn't, and there'd be youths sitting right next to them." That small library now has a free Internet filter program, he said, which solved the problem.

Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, who was among those voting against the bill, said, "I'm curious about whether this might not be something that local boards and communities can figure out for themselves." Shirley responded that 25 other states have enacted legislation on school and library Internet filtering.

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, said pornography pervades our nation, as a result of Supreme Court decisions from 1925 on and "the handmaiden of the Supreme Court, the ACLU." He said, "Now the sewers have been opened and pornography has flooded the entire country. And all of this was done without really taking children into the equation." Bateman said "just one powerful exposure" to pornography can "devastate the life of the child." He said, "It's been so permeated our society you can't avoid it. It's been thrust upon us, it's everywhere." He urged support for the bill, which now moves to the Senate side.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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