Pornography in Public—No Big Deal?

Jul 27, 2012

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The appropriateness of viewing pornography in public has made headlines in recent months. Airplanes, cafés, gyms, libraries, and even cars on the road are places where freedom to use computers, tablets, and smartphones is being called into question. The most notable reason is when a person chooses to access illegal content or content not appropriate for all audiences. The New York Times recently ran a story highlighting this debate.

The San Francisco Public Library, following complaints about patrons using library computers to view pornography, installed computer monitors with plastic hoods to keep the screen private for the person using the computer. Unlike some libraries that opt for Internet filtering systems, this library chose to respond by allowing the use but shielding the screen.

Morality in Media, on the other hand, launched a "no porn on the plane" campaign after its executive director, Dawn Hawkins, observed a man viewing child pornography on a domestic flight. The group argues that airlines should restrict passengers from viewing material on-board that is illegal or inappropriate for some audiences.

With a stance closer to the middle of the spectrum, Lewis Goldberg, a 42-year-old partner in an investor relations firm in New York, chooses to censor himself. When he is in public at the gym, he will skip through sexual or particularly violent scenes of TV shows he enjoys watching on his iPad. He says, "There's a woman jogging behind me on the treadmill and I don't want her to fall off. I'm bringing my media into a public space, and it's part of my responsibility in a civil society."

While opinions differ on censoring pornography in public locales, parents have a responsibility to take a stand when their children are exposed to inappropriate or illegal content. Peace of mind regarding your child should extend beyond the home, whether about bullying, protection from child predators, or unwanted exposure to pornography.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.