South Dakota’s governor has shut down the teen section of the South Dakota State Library’s web site, saying it included links to material he doesn’t believe young people should see.
Republican Gov. Mike Rounds decided to shut down the entire teen section July 12. The move came in spite of a decision by the State Library Board just days earlier to remove a link to a Planned Parenthood web site. The state board in April had rejected a request to remove the link, but on July 9, the library board reversed itself at the urging of the governor.
Rounds opposes abortion; Planned Parenthood lobbies to keep abortion legal.
“As a parent, I would be very disturbed to have my children connecting to any of these web sites that are found through the state web site at this time,” the governor said July 12 as links on the library’s Teen Center page began disappearing.
Rounds said he will assemble a committee to review the links and see if any can be restored.
In Rapid City, the state’s second largest urban center after Sioux Falls, about 20 teens rallied at their city’s public library to protest removal of the Planned Parenthood link.
“It seems as though our governor is censoring one particular group without regard to the content,” said one protester, Loy Maierhauser. “It’s kind of like pulling a book off the library shelf just because of the author.”
Rounds, however, said the removal of the web links does not amount to censorship, because internet users still can go directly to those organizations’ sites. State government sites should not feature links to advocacy groups that are politically active, he said.
A quick scan of the Teen Center site before the plug was pulled revealed mostly links to information about popular culture. Some general categories included “Words to Chill By,” “Homework,” “Life After High School,” “That’s Life,” and “Teen ‘Zines.”
One link was to Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice!, which provides answers to health concerns and some explicit sexual questions. Another was to It’s Your (Sex) Life, which includes information on pregnancy, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Rounds said he made a judgment call. That’s one reason he was elected, he added.