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Filtering out anything gay


Don Charles, previously known as Stuffed Animal, alerted me to the fact that when he tried to access my blog, A Christian Voice For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Rights, from his local library, it was inaccessible. 

He wrote me, “At my local library, access to your blog had been blocked; it was labeled as a ‘porno’ site.  I petitioned to have it unblocked and requested to know why it had been so labeled.  Here’s the reply that I got today:”

“The filtering software required by the federal government automatically blocked this site. After reviewing it, we unblocked it.”

First of all, if the reason the library gave to him, before they did unblock the blog after his request for an explanation for the fact that it was blocked in the first place, is true, it calls into question the whole issue of freedom of speech, to say nothing of “censorship!” 

Of course, I understand the need for a filtering device which blocks out Internet pornography from public libraries to which children have access. However, the only way that this particular site is likely to have been blocked by any filtering device is because it has in its title the word “Gay.”

The fact that the words “Christian” and “Rights” also are in the title of this blog wouldn’t be the likely reason that this blog would be flagged by any filtering system.

I wonder how many other blogs and websites are inaccessible to the pubic merely because of the fact that “filtering software required by the federal government” prohibits such access? 

More below the fold.Moreover, if the reason for the government-mandated filtering software that the Reference Librarian at Don Charles’ public library attributed to the blocking of this blog (and perhaps many other blogs and websites as well) is due to its being flagged as “pornographic” because of the fact that the word “Gay” appears in its title, we see another indication of the revulsion that exists among people who program such filtering devices toward anything “Gay!” 

Gay people and even Gay issues are frequently viewed as not only “the other,” but as being “immoral,” and “inappropriate” for public consumption, and that fact can be traced not merely to religious and secular haters who have a vested material and/or psychological reason for such hate, but also to the apolitical nature of most parts of the LGBT community and its allies that don’t actively confront such hate and bigotry.

Moreover, what helps fuel the homophobia that can manifest itself in censoring a blog due to the fact that it has the word “Gay” in its title, regardless of the nature of that blog, is the fact that many LGBT people play the role of “the other” by words by which all too many use to refer to themselves, and to celebratory marches that contain some egregious behaviors that are homed in on by a media that thrives on “sensationalism.”

LGBT people will never realize full and equal civil and sacramental rights, and full legitimacy (that would make government-mandated filtering devices that would seek to block public access to their lives and issues unthinkable), unless and until they and allies get down to business, forget the frivolity, and gain the self-respect sufficient to discard historically demeaning labels that many, including many in academic settings and programs, use to refer to themselves and to each other (as well as to academic courses and programs), and that  have been appropriated from the language of their oppressors.

I would never have known about my blog being blocked as being “pornographic” unless Don Charles had been kind enough to tell me.  And, this site would undoubtedly never have been unblocked in that public library had Don Charles not had the integrity to petition that library to have it unblocked, and also request to know why it had been blocked and labeled “pornographic” in the first place. 

I wonder how many other blogs that have to do with Gay issues and Gay rights (And who knows what other “controversial” issues?) have been blocked, remaining inaccessible to the public, because of a federally mandated use of software filtering systems in our public libraries and, perhaps, in other public institutions as well?

I also wonder how many other sites that deal with Gay issues and Gay rights (or even that deal with any issues at all that are viewed as “progressive” or in any way seem threatening to the status-quo) are inaccessible to the public without the blogmaster’s even knowing about it, due to such filtering devices?

We are to make no mistake: As I’ve so often written, LGBT rights are inextricably enmeshed with the rights of each and every one of us!  If Gay people can be viewed as “the other,” and blogs and websites that agitate for full and equal civil and sacramental rights for Gay people can be adjudged to be “pornographic,” one day it will be not be only possible, but very likely, that the securing of any group’s rights will be adjudged as the eqivalent of being “pornographic,” and blocked from sight and discussion in any or all public institutions, by merely adding the relevant words to a filtering system claimed to be used in this case.

Each of us have a vested interest in fighting for the full equality of Gay people in this society (and elsewhere), as when we engage in such a fight, we are also fighting for ourselves!

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Jerry Maneker

Jerry Maneker

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