“Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting An Establishment Of Religion, Or Prohibiting The Essay Examples
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As a synopsis, the case study involves the right of a minor to rent an R-rated movie from the library. The mother stated there was no policy in place and that he should be allowed to rent the movie. There are two points to be discussed in this situation. The first is the position of library systems in regards to giving R-rated materials to minors. The other point is related to the first one in the First Amendment of the United States regarding censorship.
The Constitution of the United States documents the rights of every United States citizen. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights delineates freedom of religion, petition, press, and speech (Findlaw 2015). It states:
free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of
the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances “ (Ratical.org, 2015).
Censorship is a violation of the rights of a citizen defined in the First Amendment and it can be seen in decisions by the library system. One way the issue is debated is when a group or individual demands a specific book be removed from the library shelves. The American Library Association (ALA) takes the stand that an author has the right to freedom of speech, regardless of how socially unacceptable it is (ala.org 2015). Another issue is renting R-rated materials to minors (children). By doing so, it is not recognizing the rights of the minor as a citizen guaranteed by the First Amendment. In movies, as with books, the ALA believes refusal to remove a book or rent a movie is a form of censorship. The Association states “ . . . parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources” (ala.org, 2015). There are no ratings on books as to adult content and although the movie distributors place them on the boxes, they should be disregarded by the librarians.
The ALA Code of Ethics is written in broad statements to assist in making decision. However, they are only guidelines which allow librarians to customize to particular circumstance. Under the section “Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights”, the policy states that if a policy or procedure of a library denies a minor equal access to library materials provided to adults, it violates the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights
For an individual working for a library under the supervision of the ALA, the code of ethics would be the same and the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights. But there are other professions in Library and Information Sciences. For instance, a Metadata Analyst may work for an investment firm. In that case, the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct are the ethical standards for benchmark for investment professionals. The passage stating “Practice and encourage others to practice in a professional and ethical manner that will reflect credit on themselves and the profession” is similar to the one put forth by the ALA (Cfapubs.org, 2015). A System Administrator works in the engineering profession and adheres to the portion of the System Administrator’s Code of Ethics that is similar to the ALA’s that states, “I will do my best to make decisions consistent with the safety, privacy, and well-being of my community and the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might pose unexamined risks or dangers” (Lopsa.org, 2015). Another instance is the Information Technology Code of Ethics which include the statement, “I treasure and will defend equality, justice and respect for others” (Sans.org, 2015). These statements are all related to a dedication to respect the rights of others.
If the situation presents an ethical problem for a librarian, she should clarify it with the head of the facility. It would be appropriate to examine the documentation of the policy regarding this topic. If the policy allows rental to children of adult material and the librarian is uncomfortable doing so, he or she could ask a co-worker to check the materials out. If the policy prevents the rental, it should be compared to the statement by the ALA.
Take, for instance, movie rentals at a kiosk such as Redbox. There are no requirements for identification other than a valid method of payment. When a movie is selected for rental and contains an “R” rating, a warning will appear on the screen to this effect. It will ask if the renter is over 18 years of age. The renter only needs to be tall enough to hit the “yes” button to be able to rent the movie. But Redbox has covered itself in terms of liability in the case of an irate parent.
The policies of stores are a different matter. A child wanting to buy a movie or game with an R-rating is required to have an adult present to grant oral permissions for the store to do so. Again, the adult may not be a caregiver or even have a close relationship with the minor. He may even be a stranger that the minor convinced to give permission for the purchase. But as in the case of the kiosk, the store has covered itself in terms of liability. However, in 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a California law preventing the sale of obscene or violent videogames to minors. The explanation was that any form of media communicates ideas and restriction of access to those ideas is restriction of the right of free speech (Techvibes.com, 2011).
My initial reaction was to verify the policy of the library. The library where I work stated that a patron under the age of 18 cannot rent an R-rated movie and verification of age may be requested. However, the last sentence of the case study said the library did not have a policy. In that case, the librarian must rent the movie because the refusal to do so was based on her personal opinion as to the appropriateness. As a librarian, if I don’t agree with a policy I need to discuss it with the director. At that time, I can present my rationale as to whether the policy should be changed. It is important for librarians to understand policy and apply it consistently to all patrons.
Ala.org. (2015). Timeline: 30 Years of Liberating Literature | Banned & Challenged Books.
Retrieved 17 February 2015, from
Buchanan, E., Henderson, K., & Hauptman, R. (2009). Case studies in library and information
science ethics. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.
Cfapubs.org. (2015). Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. Retrieved 17
February 2015, from http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/pdf/10.2469/ccb.v2014.n6.1
Lopsa.org. (2015). The System Administrators' Code of Ethics | League of Professional System
Administrators. Retrieved 17 February 2015, from https://lopsa.org/CodeOfEthics
Ratical.org,. (2015). US Constitution--Bill of Rights--The First Ten Amendments. Retrieved 17
February 2015, from http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/BillOfRights.html#1
Sans.org. (2015). SANS: IT Code of Ethics. Retrieved 17 February 2015, from
Techvibes.com,. (2011). Canada vs. U.S.: is it legal to sell mature-rated video games to minors?
- Techvibes.com. Retrieved 17 February 2015, from
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