Blown To Bits

LGBT Sites Blocked in Tennessee — but not “Ex-Gay” Sites

Friday, April 17th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

I wrote in the post just below that given a legal pretext to block web sites, as is being done in Korea, other governments would adopt similar strategies to serve their own purposes. This afternoon’s news brings a great example, right from the USA. Tennessee schools are blocking informational sites about gay and lesbian sexuality, apparently on the pretext that they are harmful to minors. The sites of ministries by heterosexual “converts” from homosexuality are not filtered out.

3 Responses to “LGBT Sites Blocked in Tennessee — but not “Ex-Gay” Sites”

  1. Puzzled Says:

    It does seem silly, but on the other hand, the linked-to article refers to students’ “Constitutional Rights” that are being violated, and offhand I’m at a loss to think which?

  2. Tyler Moore Says:

    It may very well be that the filters are intentionally blocking LBGT sites and allowing ‘ex-gay’ sites through. But it may also simply be a reflection of the difficulty to accurately block truly ‘obscene’ content on the school filters without inflicting significant collateral damage. For example, information on breast cancer screening has been blocked in the past, but there is no pro-cancer agenda behind the blocking. Any automated content-filtering system will have many false positives and negatives; if we’re going to use these systems, we must recognize this fact and not rush to judgment whenever inaccurate blocks are detected.

  3. Harry Lewis Says:

    I am not a lawyer, but it’s my understanding that First-Amendment free speech rights imply a right to hear as well as a right to speak, even for minors. Now I’m sure there are all kinds of limitations on that, particularly with sexually provocative material, given that children are involved. Nonetheless, as I understand it, a public school couldn’t have a rule, for example, that its library would carry only books written by Democrats. Whether the same sort of principle would apply in this case I don’t know, but I’ll bet that’s what the ACLU rep is referring to.
    Also, Tyler is right — it’s at least possible that the distinction here is not political but based on some list of bad words which one site has but the other doesn’t. And I should have pointed out that the source is an LGBT newsletter, and not an impartial analyst.