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Now that Dr. Laura has been thoroughly denounced here, may I speak a word
in her defense? I don't get to hear here much, since I'm at work when her
show is on, but I have heard her show several times, and have visited her
web site frequently. Like many of you, I don't always agree with her, but
for the most part I find her answers to be quite acceptable. Given the fact
that she can only hear one side of a question, obviously her answers will
reflect that viewpoint.

As I recall, the incident that started this whole discussion was a
reference to the ALA "Ask Alice" site. One night last week, after my
children were in bed, my wife and I visited that site. We both agreed that
the site was completely unacceptable. I had been considering joining ALA,
but after seeing that site, I'm not so sure that I want my hard-earned
money going to support it. Perhaps if all of us, including the ALA, would
take criticism as suggestions for improvement rather than attacks we would
all be better off.

"Ask Alice" is offensive to some people. That is a fact. What can be done
about it? ALA can dismiss those who are offended as ignorant and keep the
site as is. They can re-evaluate the site and remove what is offensive,
keeping what is useful. They can drop the site entirely. Which choice shows
the most professional attitude?

We can talk about whether Dr. Laura and others are insisting on censorship,
but we still are professionals and we are being paid to exercise
professional judgement about what we have in our libraries. Even if we had
unlimited funds, what librarian would put Playboy in a school library? Why
should we allow the electronic equivilent?

As far as the "how to make a bomb" sites, again, we wouldn't buy such a
book. Why allow the internet sites?

It seems to me that when our employers, the taxpayers, hire us, they expect
us to do the jobs they ask us to do. Libraries are not supposed to be
anarchist training grounds; rather, they are to be safe places for quiet
study. If we, as professional librarians, are going to expect that parents
come in with their children to supervise what they are learning in the
library, it won't take long until those parents decide that professional
librarians aren't needed. Is that what we want?

I am involved in two hobbies that permit a great deal of individual
freedom, with a bare minimum of regulation. What permits these hobbies to
be so free is that there is a great deal of self-policing. Yes, there are
those who think that "All is permitted except that which is specifically
forbidden" means that anything goes. Those people are talked to by the rest
of us, and if they don't mend their ways, eventually turned over to the
proper authorities. We need to do more policing ourselves, asking "would I
allow this in MY house?"

Sorry this has gotten so long, but this has been bothering me for a long time.

David Lininger, LMS
Hickory County R-1 Schools
Urbana, MO 65767

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