Boston, like most major cities, has a bit of a dilemma when it comes to its libraries. They are supposed to be bastions of freedom, where anyone can come in and get whatever sort of knowledge they wish. But they are also supposed to be bulwarks of sanctuary, where anyone can come in without fear. And as any civil libertarian will tell you, “liberty” is a never-ending balance between freedom and security.
The latest threat to Boston’s libraries has been sex offenders. They come in, like all other patients. But they go surfing for porn on the internet, they lurk around the children’s sections, and in general often make the library a creepy place.
But should they be banned? Civil rights advocates say no, not without some solid reason, some specific offense.
So what’s a librarian to do? Boston’s mayor, stumble-mouth Thomas “Mumbles” Menino, has a solution. And that solution (once translated by his English-speaking aides) was simple:
They printed up mug shot pictures of some of the more reprehensible sex offenders in the city, including the one caught lurking in the children’s section, and gave them to the library staff. Now the staff can be on the lookout for the perverts, watch them like hawks, and kick them out or call the cops at the first hint of wrongdoing.
It’s a good start, and I’m surprised it came out of Massachusetts.