Recently, an article was published in the Huffington Post regarding school and library databases and the issue with pornography being embedded throughout them. You can read the story here:
The HuffPost does not seem to allow readers to post comments to this article but it was picked up and reprinted by the NewsProject here:
NewsProject does allow commants and since the author of the article, Christopher J. Ferguson, was incorrect in his analysis, it required clarification and correct. As a result, we posted our response in NewsProject.
Unfortunately, it seems that the champions of the anti-censor movement have absolutely no problem with censorship that they deem appropriate and, like so much of the progressive liberal intelligentsia these days, it is just another case of do what I say, not what I do. Our post was deleted. Hypocrisy reigns in the halls of the anti-censorship drones.
So, to correct the record, here is what we posted.
As one of the parents that discovered this material in the Cherry Creek School district library catalog, I would like to respond to some of your comments.
First, it is important to understand that EBSCO advertises, markets, and sells these databases as being differentiated and customized for different grade levels. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We discovered this material in our daughter’s middle school library catalogue last September (2016) and, early on, we had discussions with executives from EBSCO, including CEO Tim Collins. We were told that the only differentiator between any of the “school products”, including the college level offering, is lexile level.
Lexile level is a measure of vocabulary complexity and, as facetiously stated by an EBSCO account executive, there just ain’t many big words in porn. He admitted that because of the simple lexile filtering, some of this material might well be in elementary school products. Consequently, and as we discovered, filtering the middle school databases on a lexile of 8th grade, and a category of human biology, yields results like “Orgasms for All”.
Once a child selects this, as you term it, “click-bait” and opens the article, they can then expand their search into other areas of sexuality and sexual behavior, by clicking on the convenient links the publisher provides; bondage, sadomasochism, rape, sex-toys (with very graphic illustrations), and, as you have mentioned, the joys of “fisting”. Fisting, as the term might suggest, is the insertion of a person’s fist and forearm into the anus or vagina of their tormented partner. Is this really appropriate for middle school children?
Importantly, as I have described above, a child does not have to search around for this information. It is presented with giddy abandon through innocuous search terms such as “stories about boys”, or “animal stories”. I leave to your imagination what is found in the search results for “animal stories”.
Rather than being “maddeningly short” on details, the stories in both massresistance.org and endsexualexploitation.org (NCOSE) are very long on the details, providing explicit screen shots of the material readily available within EBSCO. Again, why is this material being made available to minor children, in a product that EBSCO markets and sells as being age and grade level appropriate? Clearly, there is some severe misrepresentation in EBSCO’s promotional material.
As you have pointed out, there are links to material such as “Spicy Videos to Share with your Partner” and there are other videos. One video we found displayed 2 men having anal sex. Hey, kids, have a look at this!
This is categorically pornography and should not be made available to minor children. Links within some of the EBSCO articles also lead to the Adult Video Network, where, again, extremely graphic, sometimes violent, always exploitative, videos are being presented to children. Samples are available, so, no, they are not being hidden behind any paywall. I am just not certain why this seems OK to some people. It is not!
The fact that the American Library Association (ALA) says that few parents have complained is disingenuous. We have heard the same thing from our school district (Cherry Creek School District) and from our local public library (Arapahoe Library District). Yes, both admit that they have done nothing, and will do nothing, to actually inform parents of the potential danger. If they truly feel that this is not an issue, let them inform their constituent stakeholders of what is available, then we will see if parents lack concern about this. I know where I would place my money.
But they won’t inform parents. They know what would happen.
As to filtering, both EBSCO and our school district have admitted that the material, including the videos and other graphic depictions cannot be filtered out of a database. You are clearly misinformed as to how school filters work. They are top-site filters and cannot filter out the material resident in the EBSCO databases.
There is no distinction between accessing this material from home, from the child’s school, or from your local public library. You can access this from anywhere and most disturbing (as if all of the above is not disturbing enough), is that now, the schools and EBSCO are collaborating on providing children with phone apps so that this material can be accessed in the school yard. Talk about customer service!
Parents may well have filtering at home but that protection ends the minute their child leaves the home and directly accesses the school or library EBSCO databases. Parents also assume that if the school provides the resource, it has been vetted and that it is safe. It is a reasonable, albeit false, assumption.
As you have suggested, we, as parents, have approached both the school district and EBSCO about removing this material and have fought a 10 month battle trying to gain any meaningful action. EBSCO, as we have been told by executives, maintains non-censorship contracts with its publishing clients. That means that they cannot and will not filter out any of a publisher’s material.
In fact, it is contrary to EBSCO’s financial interests to do so, since they are likely paid according to the volume of distribution; similar to a newspaper being able to structure its advertising rates according to distribution.
To be fair, EBSCO has made some changes to its product, now allowing customers to “cherry pick” articles and content that they do not want displayed. However, this is only after 10 months of battling with the Cherry Creek School District and EBSCO, and only in baby-step increments along the way. EBSCO also is not advising their customers of this option, so the schools are unaware that this functionality is even available. So, it is for appearances only. Of any real substance, little has been done.
It is curious that you raise the issue of the LGBT community and I wonder where you received your talking points? Our school executives raised the same issue months ago. At no time, no time, during our 10 month battle to have this material removed, have we, the parents, ever mentioned the LGBT community. However, in a written response from 6 school executives, we were told that the material we encountered was vital to the district’s “commitment to inclusive excellence”. What, exactly, does this mean?
Have you, and our school district, identified an LGBT segment of the middle school community that are avid consumers of pornography and claim their consumption of it is some basic human right, or that it is in pursuit of some educational goal? What has pornography being made available to children got to do with LGBT issues? You either feel that porn should be made available to children, or you do not. Are there other segments of school children that are being under-served in this regard? Please, spare me this ludicrous misdirection!
We are not in favor of banning books. We are not in favor of censorship. We are in favor of making only age-appropriate material available to children. That is a parent’s duty; to protect their children from harmful and damaging material and behaviors until they are of an age where they can properly, and in a healthy way, process the information they are receiving.
Scientific research shows that the human brain is not fully developed until about 28 years of age. Consequently, decision making, processing, is not fully developed until at least that age. It is just not appropriate to make this type of material available to children before they can fully understand and process the information. Before this age, it can be confusing and damaging to a developing child. This is also clear from research. Yet you, the Cherry Creek School District, the ALA, and our Arapahoe County Library seem to know better. You place some misguided ideology regarding censorship ahead of the safety and health of our children and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.
The Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that filtering material harmful to children is not an unreasonable infringement on 1st Amendment rights but you all clearly know better. Clearly, the rights of publishers of pornographic material trump the rights of children, in your mind.
Within some of these databases, we have found that children can be lured down paths to material that promotes a rape culture, promotes violence against women, glamorizes the sex-trade industry and, allows access to “sign-up” sheets for those interested in a career in the wonder-world of being an escort. Are you kidding me? This is a clear abetting of sex trafficking, yet you want to protect it.
Finally, our position is not that some material “slips through”. Our position is that EBSCO, and its publishers, are in the business of promoting and fostering an active consumerism in children, aimed at increasing the profits of the pornography and related products industries into the future. It is clearly a very calculated and callous maneuver, designed to foster early childhood acceptance of all of the joys that can be made available to children if they just click on the link. It is disgusting and indefensible.
Again, our reply to the article was deleted. What a bunch of hypocrites!
We have encountered this same type of hypocrisy in dealing with Superintendent Harry Bull and Asst Superintendent Scott Seigfried. While accusing us of being mere censors, they refuse to notify the parent community of the material in the EBSCO databases that pose a danger to their children. This is censorship, pure and simple.
Our local Smoky Hill Library, through the Arapahoe Library District has taken the same position; we are censors but they will take no steps to warn parents that pornographic material can be accessed by children.
Clearly, they are all fine with censorship, as long as it is their form of censorship. The irony is stupefying, as is their position.