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McCain: Libraries, schools should filter Internet to get federal funds

The Associated Press


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Sen. John McCai...
Sen. John McCain

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Libraries and schools that offer unlimited Internet access to children should not receive federal money, Republican presidential candidate John McCain told a town meeting at the Greenville Public Library on Jan. 21.

The library's policy of allowing unfiltered Internet access rankled the Arizona senator last month when he learned that library computers were often used by a group of adults, including a convicted sex offender, to gain access to sexually explicit material in the presence of children — and that there were no restrictions on what sites children could reach.

"That this scourge can exist in this beautiful, religiously grounded, family-friendly town points out the enormity of the crisis," he said. "If you walk into any library and ask for a Hustler magazine, the library will tell you it's not available because it's inappropriate. Yet a child can log on to the library computer and surf the Web for some of the most degrading and shocking pornography available."

McCain disagrees with the American Library Association that unlimited Internet access is a matter of free speech. He suggests libraries use Web filtering devices to limit access to sexually explicit material.

"When a mother or father drops their child off at the library they are entrusting the welfare of their child with the librarian," he said.

South Carolina Republican Reps. Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford, as well as state legislators accompanied McCain in the sweltering basement auditorium built to accommodate 250 people but packed with an estimated 500. At least one person passed out from the heat, but was unhurt.

McCain's visit coincided with the release of a poll conducted by the Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson University that showed the candidate well behind Texas Gov. George W. Bush but making up ground in the state in advance of its Feb. 19 Republican primary.

The telephone poll of 650 Republicans who have voted in the past two elections showed 54% leaning toward Bush and 29% to McCain. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points and was conducted Jan. 13-20.