(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole on Thursday called on libraries to restrict Internet access to ensure America’s libraries don’t allow children to become sexual voyeurs or give adults access to “free pornography.”
Standing on the sidewalk outside the main branch of the Des Moines Public Library, Dole said institutions like schools and libraries which receive government tax dollars should not allow children, or adults, to gain access through library computers to X-rated Internet sites.
“To protect our families and to protect the taxpayers, we should not let pornography slip in through an electronic back door,” Dole told reporters.
Dole said “filtering” software is readily available to block computer access to Internet porn. Her campaign website, edole2000.com, now includes information about such software.
“In today’s world where the Internet and chat rooms have become second nature to second graders, parents need help. They can’t possibly be everywhere at all times, looking over their childrens’ shoulders to make sure they’re not exposed to things that no children should see,”
Dole said the “Juvenile Justice Act” soon to be considered by Congress calls for restrictions on library access to Internet porn, but she said it has a loophole.
“Under this bill, computers used by adults do not have to use this blocking software. In other words, pornography is off limits to children but it’s readily accessible to adults. That’s wrong. That’s
not what libraries are for,” Dole said.
Critics say libraries are places for all ideas, including those some find objectionable, and censorship should be avoided at all costs. Under Des Moines Public Library policy, there are no Internet restrictions, except for the advice that “monitoring a child’s access to the Internet is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian.” A statement adopted in 1997 by the Library’s Board of Trustees said the library “has no control over the information accessed through the Internet and cannot be held responsible for its content.”
Dole said the matter is “not about first amendment protections. It’s about protecting our children and the taxpayers. Adults can and should have access to what they wish to in the privacy of their homes if that’s what they choose to watch. It’s their business. It’s in their homes, but federal tax dollars should never be used to poison our children or provide free pornography to adults.”
Dole was joined by Iowa Christian Coalition leaders in her anti-porn news conference in Des Moines. Later Thursday, Dole stopped at her Iowa campaign headquarters to “officially” open the facility, which used to be a showroom and garage for imported luxury cars.
“Let’s go for it, and with all of this wonderful group, we are going to make history and we’re going to have fun along the way,” Dole said to about 150 supporters..
During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Dole discounted public opinion polls which show Texas Governor George W. Bush with a commanding lead. Dole said there was a difference from the “likely voters” who were being polled and her supporters which she said would provide a “surprise element” in the race
“Those likely voters represent traditional republican party people,” Dole said. “What those surveys are not measuring, at this point at least, are the folks who are coming in droves to our meetings, the new voters — unlikely voters. You need the traditional. republican party people to win, but you also need new voters, that unlikely group.” Dole called herself a “woman that they dare to believe in” and
claimed “less than five percent of Americans are really engaged in presidential politics. It’s early and I think you’re going to see things shift and change.”
While Bush has raised substantially more than his rivals for the G.O.P.’s next presidential nomination, Dole is at the head of the rest of the pack, raising $2.7 million from April 1 to June 30 of this year. “You’ve got to be viable. You’ve got to have money to be an effective candidate, but money is not everything,” Dole said. “In fact, the political landscape is strewn with those who’ve run who had huge amounts of money but did not win their elections.”
Dole said those who were predicted Bush’s ascension to the nomination were the same people who said “his father could never lose the presidential election after the Persian Gulf War.”