Homeland Security Censoring Porn

Porn Studies > Porn in the News

Washington Post, 2/18/06 - Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda, Md., one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers.

Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden.

The men looked stern and wore baseball caps emblazoned with the words "Homeland Security." The bizarre scene unfolded Feb. 9, leaving some residents confused and forcing county officials to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography.

After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user's choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

They were officers of the security division of Montgomery County's Homeland Security Department, an unarmed force that patrols about 300 county buildings, but is not responsible for enforcing obscenity laws.

In the post-9-11 era, even suburban counties have homeland security departments.

Later that afternoon, Montgomery County's chief administrative officer, Bruce Romer, issued a statement calling the incident "unfortunate" and "regrettable." He said the officers had been reassigned to other duties.

Romer said the officers believed they were enforcing the county's sexual harassment policy but "overstepped their authority" and had to be reminded that Montgomery "supports the rights of patrons to view the materials of their choice."

The sexual harassment policy forbids the "display of offensive or obscene printed or visual material." But in a library, which is both a public arena and a county workplace, the U.S. Constitution trumps Montgomery's rules.

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Porn Studies > Porn in the News

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