This essay was in the works when National Review's Mike Potemra was complaining about the "sex police of the blogosphere," whose chief is apparently Mark Shea. Where's my badge?
My thanks to the Inside Catholic crew, especially editor Brian St. Paul for inviting me to write. I hope this essay will be the first of many more.
It looks like I'm part of a local trend. On Sunday The Denver Post reported on libraries being used by child pornographers.
The local trashy alternative newspaper, Westword, also had a piece on library connoisseurs in its Oct. 11 issue. I feel dirty linking to it, but I'll happily hypocritically quote from it:
I happened to catch the reaction of a librarian, who looked over at E, frowned in disgust, then turned and began some busy work. No reprimand, no admonishments, nothing. And that librarian's silent defeat said it all: It's disgusting that this man can do this, but until porn filters catch up with the needs of earnest researchers — aka never — scenes like this are going to take place.
I think he underrates what a measured application of "chilling effects" can do to drive this behavior out of public buildings.
Editorial constraints cut a few passages from my essay. Most of this editing was for the good, but there was one passage quite relevant to the librarian's position.
In the letter from the librarian I quoted, her unease was such that she invoked some self-defense training course advice to trust her "internal radar." She lamented that library regulations required her to suppress her natural warnings when she interacted with lewd patrons.
No sane person wants to come between an onanist and his porn, but the art of public rebuke is sure in need of a revival.