Friday, March 13, 2009

I am Extremism/Intolerance

GFI Webmonitor 4 for ISA Server blocks this site, my personal blog, in its Default Web Filtering Policy. Those who are unfortunate enough to have their web access proxied through this software will receive the message "Default Web Filtering Policy Blocked site; category:extremism/intolerance"

This is, of course, laughable. The most extreme position I take here is that gay people (like me) ought to have the same civil rights as everybody else. And the only thing I'm intolerant of is intolerance. I admit it: I've spent years blogging about and fighting against intolerance, bigotry, and hate.

Sure, I've had a few choice words here and there to say about poorly-written software, but I've never seriously advocated "militant activities or extremism" or preached "intolerance to individuals and/or groups based upon discriminating or racial distinction" as the GFI Database Category Information page describes their "extremism/intolerance" category.

I've often complained in the past, especially with respect to government-mandated filtering, that there is absolutely no accountability on the part of these filter providers that the categories they choose for web sites are legitimate or deserved. All it takes is one cranky editor with a chip on his or her shoulder to flag your blog as "extremism/intolerance" and you're lumped in with the KKK. There's no way to demand an explanation or force a correction. It's worse in the case of government-mandated censorship: if the government requires the filtering, and the filtering is inaccurate with no accountability, then your First Amendment guarantee of free speech has been violated.

In cases like this one with GFI, I encourage them to continue making egregious errors like this one. Please, by all means, go hog wild flagging people's boring personal blogs as "extremism/intolerance," "lingerie/bikini," "pornography" or "tasteless" because you don't happen to like something they say on some random post. Please, do it more. Because one of the things companies, libraries, and schools will evaluate when choosing a web filter product will be the credibility of its ratings. And the more you flag civil libertarians' personal blogs as "intolerant" the lower your credibility becomes. Eventually, if all goes well, you'll flag yourself right out of business.

And I'll still be blogging.

UPDATE: GFI does NOT flag (the American "Family" Association) or (the "Family" Research Council), both avowed and staunch anti-gay hate organizations as "extremism/intolerance". It also doesn't flag (the Catholic League) which spends a great deal of its time espousing homophobia. (Mormons) and, both of which advocate discrimination against homosexual people on their sites, are also not categorized as intolerant. I think it's pretty clear what's going on here.

UPDATE 2: GFI's US office appears to be located in Cary, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh. You might remember Cary, North Carolina from the Cary Christian School's distribution of pamphlets authored by a white supremacist downplaying the horror of slavery in the United States. Obviously, this had nothing to do with GFI in particular, but to put it mildly, this is not a progressive part of the country. It would seem, based on their calling ME intolerant but not calling anti-gay hate groups intolerant and the part of the nation from which they hail that their decisions are based on their own personal political agenda and bias and not on an objective analysis of a site's content.

Labels: ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]