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I Saw a Guy Watching Porn in the Public Library

September 16, 2012
English: A panorama of a research room taken a...

If you wanted to watch porn a couple generations ago, you never would have found a place this nice to do it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I caught a guy watching porn in the public library a few days ago.  I didn’t mean to.  I was minding my own business, wandering through the nonfiction section of the library, when I spotted a naked female butt on a library computer screen.  Maybe I shouldn’t have looked at another person’s screen, but it was a female butt.  Unfortunately, some other body parts showed up, and I could tell that I had missed the dialogue. 

I accidentally made eye contact with the guy watching the porn, and he nodded.  Normally, I’m a fan of the nod of acknowledgement.  I usually respond to a nod of acknowledgement with a nod of my own because I’m a polite guy and the nod of acknowledgement keeps me from having to talk to people I don’t want to talk to. 

But a guy who’s watching porn in the library gets no nod of acknowledgement from me.  Instead, I gave him the grimace of disgust and a prolonged “Duuuude” as I shook my head and passed by. 

I didn’t report the guy.  His pants were pulled up.  His hands were where I could see them.  The volume was muted.  There weren’t any kids around.  I didn’t know what my library’s filter policies were (I guess I do now), but even if porn is allowed in a public library, no self-respecting guy is going to watch it there. 

Self-respecting.  Yeah, I know.

A couple generations ago, if a guy wanted to watch porn, he had to go to a “theater” in a rundown neighborhood and hope that nobody (who wasn’t in that neighborhood to watch porn too) saw him.  If I had been an adult back then, I probably never would have watched porn because my sense of shame would have overcome my desire to see porn.  With the internet, it’s pretty much shame-free porn available at all times.  Whether or not that’s good is a debate for another blog. 

The idea of watching porn in a public library is still baffling to me and has undermined my confidence in the U.S. judicial system.  Despite Associate Justice Potter Stewart’s quote (“I know it when I see it”) about hardcore smut, pornography is easy to define.  It involves a few body parts and a few actions with those body parts.  If these actions and body parts are combined in any way, it’s pornography.  It shouldn’t have been difficult for judges to figure this stuff out. 

Potter Stewart got a lot of grief over his quote, but his perspective is understandable.  I’m sure he could have defined pornography if he had wanted to, but to do so, he would have had to use a bunch of graphic terms that were considered improper back in the 1950s and 60s.  And back then, you simply didn’t do that, unless you were a deviant (and I use that term without judging).  Unfortunately, pornography/obscenity laws got muddled, and somehow “freedom of expression” got involved. 

I like porn (and I’m no constitutional scholar), but even I know that the “freedom of expression” argument is bogus. 

Nobody watches (or makes) porn for the freedom of expression.  Listening to pornographers talk about freedom of expression is like hearing high school students brag about how they convinced the substitute teacher to let them go to lunch 30 minutes early.  

The pornographers (or their lawyers) that came up with the “freedom of expression” argument decades ago probably couldn’t believe it actually worked!  

I don’t blame the pornographers for trying the “freedom of expression” angle to mainstream porn.  I expect deviants (and again, I’m not judging) to try everything to justify their behavior (or mainstream it). I blame the judges who fell for that argument.  Judges are expected to know better. 

Despite what pornography aficionados might think, the computer and internet were not invented to make porn more accessible.  I’m not sure what they were invented for (I used to know), but it wasn’t for readily available porn. 

And believe it or not, libraries have computers and internet access primarily for research purposes, and not for porn.  Nobody watches porn for research.  There’s nothing to learn from porn.  Every scene ends the same way… kind of.  There are really three kinds of scenes.  Two of them end the same way, and the other ends a slightly different manner, but once you’ve watched one porn scene from each category, then you’ve learned everything you’re going to learn from porn, and no more research is necessary. 

But there was no way that guy watching porn at the library was doing research.  He was too creepy to be doing research.  It makes me wish that Justice Potter Stewart really had defined pornography.  Maybe that would have set up a chain of events leading to libraries filtering out porn.   Even if I’m wrong about that, his definition probably would have been fun to read.

12 Comments
  1. I’m looking forward to the pornography blog.

  2. I haven’t figured out why libraries just don’t fix their internet connection so that porn is inaccessible on the public terminals. I mean if libraries can ban some books, why not porn?

    • I think it’s possible (and done in some libraries), but a lot of people (including some librarians) have fallen for the “porn is freedom of expression” argument. These are allegedly real librarians too, not adult entertainment actresses wearing librarian glasses.

  3. I actually thought you were being hard on this guy until I understood that he was using the library’s computer for it. I had initially pictured a laptop, but when I realized it was the library’s terminal, I was like “Duuuuuuuude”

  4. I am not concerned what others choose to do in the privacy of their homes, but in public library? Why not just allow couples to have sex in the library in front of patrons?

  5. I sense you will like this story about legally keeping legal porn out of public libraries: http://tinyurl.com/ALAdogma

  6. Are you here in Baltimore at the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s main branch? .come on…fess up.

  7. DNS permalink

    Define ” His hands were where I could see them “. Does it matter where his hands are? As long as he keeps his hand to himself.

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