By Steve Williams
The case came about after Salem resident Anaka Hunter contacted the ACLU after she was unable to access websites on Native American and Wiccan cultural and religious ideas at the Salem Public Library. She protested to the library director, Glenda Wofford, and portions of the sites were unblocked, but much remained censored.
Indeed, Hunter alleges that Wofford said she would only allow access to the restricted sites if users had what she viewed as a legitimate reason to view the content, going on to say that she had an obligation to report people who wanted to view such sites to the authorities.
“It’s unbelievable that I should have to justify why I want to access completely harmless websites on the Internet simply because they discuss a minority viewpoint,” Hunter said in an ACLU statement. “It’s wrong and demeaning to deny access to this kind of information.”
For more on the subject, see:
Judge Orders Public Library Not to Censor Pagan Websites
U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber ordered the Salem (Mo.) Public Library to allow its patrons access to pagan and Wiccan websites that were originally disallowed by the library's filtering software. The Associated Press reports Webber's decision Tuesday afternoon ends a three-year battle between a patron and the small town's only public library.
Tony Rothert, the ACLU's attorney, issued a statement to the AP Wednesday. He said, "Even libraries that are required by federal law to install filtering software to block certain sexually explicit content should never use software to prevent patrons from learning about different cultures."
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