Ethics Analysis Paper #1
Due: February 15, 2007
Today's society leads us to many questions and concerns. It often feels that there are pulls in every direction to make everything right. Nothing seems to be wrong anymore. However, then again, many situations constituted in the past as right, are now condemned to be wrong. Should everything be tolerated without judgment? In earlier generations, behaviors of right and wrong were based, for the most part, on religious teachings or backgrounds. The world has been broken into individuals speaking for themselves rather than society acting as a whole. In times past society has given us experiences that we have been able to use to set boundaries and rules for the society as a whole. Public libraries have recently been faced with an ethical dilemma over the public rights; with the technology world blasting into new boundaries society is left to wonder where to draw lines.
For centuries ideas have been left minimally untouched. Computers were rooms full of equipment that generated very little, if anything. Today, computers are a gateway to anything imaginable with a simple touch of the finger. Within the last decade and the advent of the internet, computers have taken on the main source for information leaving magazines, newspapers, and even television with a very stiff competition. Libraries have always been a rich source for a large amount of information in one place. The public need for computers in the library is essential for brining this vast amount of information to the public in that one place. However, before the introduction of the internet into the library, there has always been information that has not been easily found in a library. This information that in times past has not always been accessible might have included pornography and adult censored material. Because of this, there has been great concern about what should and should not be accessed on public computers in public libraries.
As a result of the demand for computers and internet in a public library setting, questions have arose about how to sensor this explicit material. The solution came in the result of a filter that would simply eliminate any sexual graphics, gross depictions, sexual acts, partial nudity and full nudity. This lead to even more complaints from citizens who believe this was restricting their first amendment rights. Most people including the administrators of these libraries across America believe that it is completely normal that this information be kept out of the public library. In the past, walking into a public library with the full intent to research pornographic images was not common. This would have almost been impossible. Very few, if any public libraries subscribe to these types of magazines or books. In addition it seems very unusual that this information be found anywhere public. If it is or has been a public right, protected by the first amendment, to research these types of images in public libraries people would have had a much easier experience access to them in a public library.
With the rights debates it is well understood that there are images that display nudity and are sanctioned as art. This is a very important aspect in the filtering process. Filtering software companies are becoming very aware of this problem and are developing better software everyday to face this problem. They have been and are faced with this problem in every American home. Millions of parents are filtering there own computer and television for information that is unwelcome in their home. Parents are concerned about the messages and content that is being introduced to their children and are more than happy to spend the money to have this problem automatically fixed by software filters. These filters are permanent and produce the results that parents are looking for. These filters block content that is not wanted while without the necessity of...
Cited: Englehardt, Elaine E. and Donald D. Schmeltekopf "The Categorical Imperative." Ethics & Life. USA 1992; 27
Hilden, Julie. Can we protect children online without library software filters? 19 February 2003. 11 February 2007.
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