There are no public libraries filtering violent websites that have been sued that I know of. Don't be the first. I mention this because I still get asked by librarians if they HAVE to filter violent websites under the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA and definitely not). CIPA requires libraries with certain federal dollars or discounts to try to block C-O-H - Child pornography, Obscenity and "Harmful to Minors." For legal definitions of what CIPA libraries are supposed to try to block, see an article I wrote last year for LLRX.com.
In fact, I believe [see First Monday] a policy or practice blocking violent sites in a public library is likely to attract a lawsuit by a civil liberties group, and I think the library would lose.
I bring this up now because free speech won in federal district court again last week, in Video Software Dealers Assn. v. Norm Maleng. The state of Washington passed a law last year that would have imposed a $500 fine to people renting video games to minors under 17 that depicted realistic violence against law enforcement officers.
The Video Software Dealers Assn filed a lawsuit. The Media Coalition (including the Freedom to Read Foundation) filed a brief as amici curiae in support of the Video Software Dealers Assn. The state's position is summarized here (written before the decision in favor of the Video Software Dealers last week). This is at least the third court that has clearly said recently that the First Amendment trumps restrictions on violent speech, even for children.
Do I want kids to see gruesome violence? No. Do I want the state defining and enforcing what kids can and cannot see? Again, no.
I want parents to make these decisions for their own children, and I'm in favor of efforts to persuade producers and more importantly advertisers to show some responsibility. NO ads during preschool TV shows is a great idea. In fact I highly recommend Newton Minow's book Abandoned in the Wasteland, an effort to curb violence in the media aimed at children while protecting the First Amendment. As my dad is fond of saying, "just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do." Both my father and my sister Nell are involved in Jim Steyer's Common Sense Media, an important step in the right direction.