Library Computer Disfigures Child

Reuters: November 11, 1998

MEDINA, OHIO -- A small town in Ohio has been stunned by the gruesome disfigurement of a child by the local library's computer system.

At 10:00 this morning, Timmy Jenkins, 11, was accessing the internet through the Medina Public Library terminals when suddenly librarians in the the next room heard a scream of terror and pain. Rushing to his side, they found that he had been badly burned by an arc of current coming from of the computer's keyboard. Sustaining third degree burns on his hands and forearms, the child is in critical condition at a local hospital.

The keyboard, manufactured by X-Patrol Inc., was part of a deterrent system installed earlier this year to protect children from the harmful effects of hard-core pornography.

Fighting powerful spasms with the help of heavy medication, Timmy was able to be interviewed from his hospital bed, where he alleged that he was not looking for nude photos but had only visited a website called "Thumper the Bunny."

Repeating the experiment with thick insulating gloves, reporters verified that accessing this site,, does indeed cause the specially-designed X-Patrol computer keyboard to emit high voltage. A spokesperson for X-Patrol was at a loss to explain why this might be so. "We will be sure to correct the glitch with our next update of our award-winning blocklist, which will be released the third Thursday of this month," said engineer Mark Data. "Or maybe next month."

However, filtering expert Mavis Purt, who runs a website called "Philtering-Philes," was able to explain the mistake. "The mystery of how Thumper the Bunny got blocked by X-Patrol has been solved," said Purt. [1] "Not only does 'Thumper' contain the word 'hump,' a common euphemism for violent sex, but 'bunny' is a word frequently associated with nude women. Of course nude women are not something that 11-year-olds should be seeing.

"There is also a pornographic website at registered to a Dale Chippert. is registered to one Dale Shephard. These names are very much alike and could easily be confused, leading us to believe that the two sites are run by the same person. In fact, I have not seen any evidence from a reliable, unbiased study proving that they are not indeed the same person.

"Finally, performing a numerological summation analysis on the word 'thumperbunny,' with a equals 1 and so on, we get 208, which is exactly the same value we get for 'citysystems,' which could hardly be coincidence, and while the word 'citysystems' itself might not seem pornographic, and in fact is not a pornographic site per se, though I have not seen any evidence that it is not, it does advertise credit cards and use Javascript which is bad enough and as if we needed any more convincing we see that the National Library Filtering Plan which is for PORNOGRAPHY ONLY has on its list of porn sites or at least it once did so it must be a filthy site and while it is true that I don't know if X-Patrol uses summation analysis there are no reliable studies showing that it does not so these two sites might easily have been confused.

"Because this excellent software blocks so many thousands upon thousands of sites with bestiality, child porn, and snuff films, there are sure to be a few minor errors that are overlooked. Fortunately, the software allows librarians to override these errors, after first shutting off the building circuit breaker.

"Obviously, then, we can hardly blame X-Patrol for this," said Purt. [2]

Timmy had passed out after a vomiting spell, and was unavailable for further comment.

[1] This comment bears an odd resemblance to one made by David Burt, webmaster of "Filtering Facts," who wrote on November 11th: "The mystery of how FAO Schwarz got blocked by CyberPatrol has been solved."

[2] Again, a strange similarity to David Burt's having said, referring to the FAO Schwarz case: "Obviously, you can hardly blame CyberPatrol for this."

Jamie McCarthy is a software developer and Internet activist based in Michigan.