Porn Filtering Shot Down

The religious right may have won the gay marriage debate, but they just lost the war on porn…in the library. After a long meeting Tuesday night, the San Jose City Council put an end to Councilman Pete Constant’s 19-month-long campaign to install porn filters on library computers throughout the city.

And it clearly wasn’t just about the money. Larry Pegram, president of the Values Advocacy Council, announced at the meeting that his religious organization was willing to shell out $40,000 to help pay for the porn filtering installation. He was hoping to quell any concerns about spending $80,000-plus on porn filtering at a time when the city is in the hole.

As the debate proceded, scores of people made emotional appeals on both sides. “I have serious doubts about whether filters could do the job,” said Councilwoman Nancy Pyle. She wasn’t the only one.

Councilman Sam Liccardo bluntly called porn filters “irrelevant,” pointing out that internet filters won’t stop kids from getting lured by predators in chat rooms and social networks. Liccardo, along with Councilman Ash Kalra and Vice Mayor Judy Chirco, pushed their own proposal that flat out rejected porn filtering.

The group asks that before the city even consider something like Internet porn filtering, it must first do the following: support the San Jose Police Sexual Assault Investigations Unit; restore library hours that have been scaled back; and fund the school crossing guard program. These three things are likely to benefit kids more than porn filtering, they say. That motion passed 7-3.


  1. So after all the hue and cry a vast majority of the council beat back a group of “right wing fanatics” and thus allowed the God given right of viewing free pornography in public places to continue. Now there’s a political victory we can all be proud of!

    Congratulations to Larry Pegram, Mayor Reed, and councilmen Constant and Oliverio for taking on this issue and standing firm.

  2. Lantern Exclusive.

    Reed to Resign as Mayor

    New Mayor appointed

    HAL 9000

    “Nancy, Nancy, I cannot outlaw gangbanger clothing, it is not possible.  I am sorry.”

    “Pete, I can help you with filters, Pete, link all the computers to me, Pete.”

    “Nora, I am afraid I cannot do that, Nora.  No, it is just not possible, Nora.”

    “I am back you, Chief Davis, to the limit, Chief.”

  3. Thank you to all the supporters who came out tonight to speak in favor of the motion authored by Vice Mayor Chirco and Council members Sam Liccardo and Ash Kalra. It’s a solid proposal and allows the City to spend money on programs where it’s clear that our kids are NOT safe, like crossing the street for example.

    And, I hope I see ALL the council members (and the Mayor too) who all expressed their concern about keeping children safe, vote in favor of allocating more funding toward programs: Crossing guard programs, increased library hours, community centers, after school activities and pools open for longer periods of time.

    Last, I’d love to see the Values Advocacy Council, who generously offered $40K (and then later an additional $10K toward the filter “solution” in Library Children’s Rooms, consider donating their money to the very worthy causes listed above. Having safe places for children to experience the wonders of childhood would truly be a special gift from this organization.


  4. There is one filter that is completely FREE, very highly effective when operating, and comes with children at birth, it is called
    “a parent.”

  5. Filtered, he gets that way when his tin foil hat picks up radio transmissions from Alpha Centauri.  It’s caused by the water pipes in the basement functioning as a giant antenna.

  6. #10 J: Nope.  And this time I don’t think they’ll wait 12 years to try again.  Groups like VAC will always be around to try to ram their “values” down our throats.

  7. I don’t know how many of you watched the Council Meeting last night, but I must say Sam “Smiling” Liccardo did a wonderful job of telling it like it is. His comments spoke to the heart, and the truth about how vulnerable our children are these days, and how important it is that we do something realistic to protect them from all the dangers and offenders lurking out there. If filters could protect children from child predators, I’d be the first to join Pegram and his merry followers, but they don’t and never will.
    Way to go Sam for understanding the reality of what lurks behind closed doors, in chat rooms, and any where else that parents sometimes can’t or don’t shield their children from.

  8. Pete Constant has shown that he is a person who has the courage of his convictions. He fought for something that he believed was right even though he knew it would be unpopular. He’s roundly ridiculed for it.

    Judy Chirco, on the other hand, wets her finger, holds it up in the wind, and makes her decision accordingly. She’s roundly praised for it.

    Pete’s the sort of Councilperson I’d like to have.
    Judy’s the Councilperson I DO have.

  9. Not to disappoint, Fox reports Air Force files on alien interogations.

    Reed has something to answer for.

    BZZZZZZZ, tin foil hat recepiton signal

    gotta run

  10. #14 – Constant has the courage of his convictions, but those who disagreed with his position don’t? Interesting bias you have.
    As for Chirco, she took a strong stand in opposition to Constant—how is that any less commendable than what you are extolling Constant for? I’d much rather have her representation than someone who is led around by church groups. Constant carries the water for Pegram’s holier-than-thou folks which blurs the line between church and state. I’m glad Chirco stood her ground even thought she knew it would be unpopular and even though you roundly ridiculed her for her it.
    Oh wait, do I hear a double standard off in the distance??

  11. Three cheers that Pete Constant and the far right christian group Values Advocacy Council were defeated with arguments actually having to do with making our city better for children and young adults, as opposed to their agenda.

    Values Advocacy Council co-founder Tony Perkins (pictured on their website) believes in mandatory prayer in public schools and receives support from known white supremacist groups. We should all be outraged that members of our city government like Council member Constant and Mayor Reed associate with the likes of these christian theocracy and anti-gay rights activists.

  12. The things one can learn from liberals…

    “The religious right may have won the gay marriage debate, but they just lost the war on porn…in the library.”

    Gee, who would’ve guessed that the religious right was the voting majority in the last election? Was that astonishing fact reported in the Metro?

  13. Three cheers for Pete Constant!
    It’s refreshing to see an elected representative who doesn’t worship at the altar of the Silicon Valley Church of the PC Progressives.
    If Jane Light and the Merc editorial board had come out in favor of the filters, Judy ‘Nevermakeatoughchoice’ Chirco would have taken that side too.
    A weathervane has no need for principles, nor does it need to think.

  14. This is such a trumped up non-issue for the alleged moral authority to use as a rallying cry. How does porn endanger children more than social networking sites? Why are children of protective parents wandering into libraries alone in the first place? Does the lack of a porn filter mean that sexual images will be popping up literally every second?

    I do find it somewhat odd that people would choose to view explicit images in public, but that’s their thing. So long as they don’t start pleasuring themselves in a library, I’m not sure anyone’s going to be severely traumatized.

    As with most censorship issues, this boils down to parenting. Until there’s porn on billboards and buses, people should be pretty able to keep tabs on what their kid sees.

  15. Nam Turk says,
    “As with most censorship issues, this boils down to parenting. Until there’s porn on billboards and buses, people should be pretty able to keep tabs on what their kid sees.”


  16. Beware of any politician who raises an issue to “protect the children.” The rallying cry implies if you don’t agree you therefore do not want to protect children and you want to put them at risk. It’s dangerous nonsense.
    If Constant and his merry band really want to do something to protect children and he can raise tens of thousands of dollars to do so, how about parenting classes for those who dump their kids unattended at the library and other places? I know it won’t happen because this is more about forcing religious beliefs on others than really “protecting children.” It’s too bad, because if all the time, energy, and money that has been wasted on this non-issue had been put towards real programs that would protect children, some kids might actually have be safer today than they are.
    So, what’s the next useless wedge issue, Pete?

  17. #22, <a >

    Come on Turk. Our entire City Government is based on trumping up non-issues. They’re trumped up, packaged and sold to that easiest, most gullible of marks, the PC leftist, who gets swindled time after time and doesn’t even realize it, by these hucksters who slickly pass themselves off as public servants.
    Then for once, due only to an irrational hatred of the concept of morality, they exhibit a little bit of sales resistance and suddenly they’re strutting around claiming to be the very picture of wise fiscal responsibility.
    $80,000 for porn filters? “Oh no. We can’t afford THAT.”
    $179,000/yr. to some 32 year old punk to investigate a trumped up non-issue? “No problem.”

  18. #24…“how about parenting classes for those who dump their kids unattended at the library…?”

    I don’t know about you, but when I was a wee lad my parents let me ride my bicycle (unattended) to the library. It was a place where they felt I’d be safe. Is that so wrong?

    In this valley, where many families have both parents working, what is wrong with expecting our children to be safe at the library? Why should we not allow them to be there unattended?

    This issue is not about forcing religious beliefs on others. It’s about providing safe, secure places for our children to grow and learn.

  19. How did Santa Clara county libraries ever manage to install filters on their computers?  From the county library web site [1]:

    “Children’s computers have a commercially produced filter which attempts to block sites that might be considered objectionable. The filter is available as an option on computers in the adult rooms.”

    For a council that cannot decide if we are really in a financial crisis, turning this controversy into a budget issue is quite amusing.


  20. 26 – That’s a noble attempt, Pat, but it really doesn’t fly. Growing up today is very much different than how kids grew up yesterday. I would not let my kids loose in the library, filters or no filters, nor would I let them roam freely at city parks or even in the neighborhood. Society today has changed for the worse, and it is simply not a good idea to let your kids go off unattended—and porn in the library is the least of my concerns. The library is not a day-care center although many parents use it that way.
    I understand what it takes financially to live in this Valley, and if I can’t afford to raise kids then I wouldn’t have had them.
    No one is opposed to having safe, secure places for our kids, but times have changed from when you grew up. I’m sorry about that but that’s the way it is and the phony argument that filters are somehow going to fix the ills of society just doesn’t cut it.

  21. #27, what a sad world we live in when people are concerned about their children’s safety in our libraries. I blame it on one of two things…take your pick.

    1) Communications has enabled bad news to travel instantaneously, making the world seem like a much more dangerous place than it really is. Not too long ago (geologically speaking, I suppose), a child disappearing in Colorado or Florida wouldn’t make the news in California. Now, we’re treated to incessant non-stop coverage. Despite all the hoopla about disappearing children, the fact remains that the vast majority of abducted minors are taken by family members (I suspect the same holds true of abuse/molestation, but I haven’t done that research). And, yes, I do feel for the parents affected by such events, but do we really have to follow such events on the other side of the country 24/7.


    2) Our society’s moral fabric has decayed to the point that things really are as bad as they seem, and you can’t trust the person in line with you at the grocery store. If that’s the case, then it’s time for people like you and me to stand up and do something about it (and that has nothing to do with library filters, or endless babbling on little blogs like this).

    Maybe I’m being naive, but I have a hard time believing that things are as bad as all that.

  22. I’m still confused as to how explicit images relate to safety. That is a huge leap. Pictures are not real. They exist on a screen. That’s like saying that images of sharks and bears put “our children” in harm’s way. Actually, those may be worse. Naked people aren’t usually as aggressive.

  23. Pat #29,
    You’re not being naive. It’s door #1. I don’t think the world has changed for the worse to the level that B.Ware says it has. What’s changed is our reaction to the world around us. We overestimate and exaggerate the level of risk AND we are compulsive about not tolerating risk.
    This mindset is insidious and it’s effect on society is profound.

  24. #30
    So you consider explicit pornographic pictures of pedophilia to be acceptable because in your words “Pictures are not real”? How is that a “huge leap” to understand how these images relate to children’s safety? Thinks of the type of people that get off on these images and the children that were exploited and scarred for life. According to your statement pictures of “sharks and bears” may be “worse” than pedophilia. That is some warped logic of yours.

  25. “So you consider explicit pornographic pictures of pedophilia to be acceptable because in your words “Pictures are not real”? How is that a “huge leap” to understand how these images relate to children’s safety? Thinks of the type of people that get off on these images and the children that were exploited and scarred for life. According to your statement pictures of “sharks and bears” may be “worse” than pedophilia. That is some warped logic of yours.”

    Your whole basis for making such a connection is that only insane deviants view pornographic images? You’re in for a rude awakening. That’s honestly something I expect to hear from Falwell or another wacko, not from this blog. Mean world Syndrome has a grip on San Jose, it seems.

  26. #27 has it right, #26.  Prime example—young Miss Cantu in Tracy who was apparently raped and killed by a Sunday school teacher.

    #30—a common ploy of pedophiles is to show their intended victims pictures of sex acts with kids in order to convince those intended victims that it’s OK to engage in such acts.

    The $80k number may be real, since anything a government agency buys is at least four times what someone in the private sector could buy it for.

    The argument that the filters aren’t perfect is totally bogus.  NOTHING is perfect.  if we had as a criterion for any government action that it would be perfect, nothing would ever get done.

  27. I remain unconvinced that accidental viewing of porn by kids in the public library in a huge problem.  It’s probably an occasional issue.

    But why should the taxpayers be forced to pay for a bunch of wankers looking at porn at our expense?  If they want to view poern, let them pay for it.  Hhhmm—maybe we could have some coin-operated computers that showed nothing but porn.  Of course, the wankers wouldn’t use them—they want it free.

  28. The City current has filters in place on City Hall computers and presumeably has them in other city office buildings,such as fire stations and satellite offices.  They do filter out objectionable websites, including hard and soft porn. 

    Certainly everyone would agree that this would be expected, as we can’t have City employees viewing this on City time, and putting the City at risk for harrassment claims when other employees happen upon these images.  This has happened before filters were in place.

    I have no idea as to the cost of filter installation, but I do not believe the cost of $80k by Ms Light was supported with any backup. That sounded like a WAG meant to discourage further discussion. 

    There is something lost here that so many would advocate that the free viewing of hard core porn in a City library is a protected right. I never understood this as being an issue of only protecting children from viewing porn (the Right), or the need for better parenting (the Left), but it about anyone free to view porn in a public facility that would make others uncomfortable, and potentially place the City at risk for claims. Count on that happening.

    The City does not need to accomodate the likes of Pervie McPervowitz to openly watch people fucking* each other on an open monitor in the middle of a library, either in the childrens or main section. 

    * the word is completely relevant in this context because porn is only about this.

  29. #35…you might be on to something. Perhaps we should require that proposed regulations and legislation be perfect before being implemented! Sometimes I think it’s better that government do nothing…despite what politicians think.

  30. 34,

    Geez Nam,,,Just because I don’t condone child pornography in our library, or anywhere else,  as you have implied you do (in post 30) and you come back and reply “That’s honestly something I expect to hear from Falwell or another wacko, not from this blog. Mean world Syndrome has a grip on San Jose.” Guess we will have to agree to disagree. By the way, I am an atheist and I also love seeing a nice rack and the associated nether regions in a Playboy. Hardly Falwellian.

  31. I was at the meeting the other night and spoke on putting filters on the computers.  it is unfortunate that a majority of you children are not mature enough to recognize a real problem.  Jane Light lives in a fantasy world and the key word for her is “denial”.  If the library system used to have security officers and they used to report bad activity at the branches.  And now they don’t have any security officers and nothing gets reported to or is documented.  No one to report problems = no problems amazing concept!  I agree with Pete and the throngs of “normal” adults that shared their real life experiences with Council.  Too bad that Liccardo has never had to work for a living.  What a whiny loser he is.  He really needs to ease up on the tooth whitener and the Red Bull.  This issue needs to go to the citizens for a vote.

  32. #39-Frank,
    Many of us disagree with you on library filtering, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about the safety and well being of children. Just because some of us don’t agree with your viewpoint, doesn’t make you right and the rest of us wrong. It makes us both entitled to our opinion. If this issue came to a public vote, I still think you’d lose.

    What are your thoughts on the responsibility of parents in this scenario? Since when are parents allowed to drop their children off in a library and expect staff to baby-sit their children? We are living in frightening times. I personally think parents need to get on the ball and start taking better care of their kids~

  33. #39
    What a shame that your thoughts and opinions cannot be articulated without resorting to personal attacks on a dedicated Library Director and Council members like Sam Liccardo who are trying to do the right thing.

    I too was at the Council meeting and did not see the “throngs” of adults, normal or otherwise you refer to. I did see many impassioned people standing up and giving voice to what they believed in. From what I could tell, we all agree that children should be kept safe (so should ALL library patrons); it’s the method that we disagree about.

    Last Tuesday, one group was armed with fear tactics, the other group armed with facts.

    Facts such as San José University Police arrests for “bad behavior” are approximately 0.002% of all UPD arrests. Facts such as 14 (documented) complaints over 2 fiscal years were for the viewing of porn, out of 758,620 computer sessions in the Martin Luther King (MLK) library. Facts such as 1 documented complaint about viewing porn in FY 2008 out of 1,399,378 visitors in the branch libraries. Facts such as 67% to 79% of inappropriate content is seen AT HOME, 3% to 5% is seen in public libraries. Facts such as 65% to 73% of youth access the Internet at home, only 2% to 5.4% at public libraries.

    As for security guards, as a SJSU student I am in MLK llibrary every day, and on various floors. There are security guards present. In my trips to branch libraries I don’t remember looking for any security guards, but next time I’m in one I will.

    The facts speak for themselves. Since we’re all in agreement kids need to be safe, let’s keep them safe with adequate library hours, crossing guard programs, open community centers (and parks! and pools!) and encourage the parents 1) Be present and watchful of their kids and 2) If they do see something that concerns them, to report it to the librarian or security guard on duty and request it to be documented.

    These ideas are no guarantees…and neither are the content filters.


  34. #41-Tina,
    Very well said. I watched the Council meeting and left feeling the same way you do. I saw two groups of people on differing sides speaking passionately about what they perceived the best method of handling the situation would be. Both sides were respectful, and understandably upset, but both sides agreed 100% about the importance of child safety.

  35. Next time you visit a branch library look at the computer key board… That’s not disinfectant on the keys.  You folks need to open your eyes.  There are BAD people that visit the libraries.  Didn’t you all hear what that guard had said who was the first speaker?  He had arrested sex offenders in our libraries masturbating.  Tina, it’s nice to know that the statistics will keep you safe at our libraries.  You go on thinking Jane Light’s stats are correct until some guys comes up to you waving his little friend at you just after visiting the Library PORN computers.

    Sad,so Sad that people are blind now days.  It must be from all the texting?

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