MD Homeland Security Wrongly Cracks Down On Net Porn

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Homeland security officers’ enforcing obscenity laws? That’s what happened in Montgomery County, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C., last week. The Washington Post reports that two uniformed men strolled into a public library and announced that the viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden. The men looked stern and wore baseball caps emblazoned with the words “Homeland Security.” One of the officers then challenged an Internet user’s choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside. A librarian prevented any further enforcement action.

The men were officers of the security division of Montgomery County’s Homeland Security Department, an unarmed force that patrols about 300 county buildings — but is not responsible for enforcing obscenity laws. In the post-9/11 era, even suburban counties have homeland security departments. Montgomery County will not specify how many officers are in the department’s security division, citing security reasons. Its annual budget, including salaries, is $3.6 million. Montgomery County chief administrative officer Bruce Romer called the incident “unfortunate” and “regrettable.” The sexual harassment policy forbids the “display of offensive or obscene printed or visual material.” But in a library, which is both a public arena and a county workplace, the U.S. Constitution trumps the county rules.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/16/AR2006021602066.html

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