27 Jul 2008 Privacy Fetishists Strike Again
Pardon me for venting a little, but this story about a Vermont librarian who prevented five state police detectives from temporarily taking a public library’s computers as part of their effort to rescue the then-missing (since discovered to be murdered) 12-year-old Brooke Bennett infuriates me.
From the AP:
Children’s librarian Judith Flint was getting ready for the monthly book discussion group for 8- and 9-year-olds on “Love That Dog” when police showed up.
They weren’t kidding around: Five state police detectives wanted to seize Kimball Public Library’s public access computers as they frantically searched for a 12-year-old girl, acting on a tip that she sometimes used the terminals…
We all have a moral responsibility to help one another in life and death situations. There’s no exception for government employees, whether librarians or dogcatchers. In fact, a heightened duty of care obligation may exist for public servants.
Privacy on any matter that is not literally life or death is less important than possibly saving a little girl’s life.
How much of a narcissist does a library patron have to be to imagine that other people really care what he’s gazing at? (For goodness sake, Mr. Narcissist, if we really care to know what websites you visit, we’d just stand behind you and watch you surf. It’s a public library, after all!)
Anyhow, a public library’s computer is owned by the government. Anybody who doesn’t want the government to know which websites he visits ought not use a government computer to visit those websites.
P.S. The AP story above also is noteworthy for a profuse blast of whining excessive even by generous Vermont feminist standards:
“What I observed when I came in were a bunch of very tall men encircling a very small woman,” said the library’s director, Amy Grasmick, who held fast to the need for a warrant after coming to the rescue of the 4-foot-10 Flint.
Gimme a break. While a little girl was in what proved to be mortal danger, the chief public librarian frets that policemen are tall.
Honey, Brooke Bennett had the scary role in this story, not Judith Flint.