DOD anti-”LGBT” Web filter category also bans gay anti-bullying, suicide prevention sites

UPDATE: HRC’s blog is blocked by the Pentagon as well.
____________

In a disturbing twist to our earlier stories about the Pentagon banning a variety of gay and trans Web sites that they categorize with the offending category “LGBT,” we’ve discovered that the Internet filtering category the Pentagon is using is one used NOT to ban sexually explicit material at all.  The category “LGBT” is used, rather, to ban gay news, anti-bullying and even suicide prevention information.

It is unknown at this time if the Pentagon has exempted gay anti-bullying and suicide prevention sites from its “LGBT”ban, but we do know that a number of gay news sites are banned.

Background

We wrote yesterday and today that a variety of gay news sites, including AMERICAblog and Pam’s House Blend are being censored by the Pentagon for being “political, activist, blogs.”

americablog-snippet

(Straight news site DailyKos is blocked as well.)  And that other gay news sites, like Towleroad, GoodAsYou, and Bilerico, are being censored by the Pentagon for belong to the offending category “LGBT.”

towleroad-snipet

We also noted that anti-LGBT political activist sites, like the American Family Association (which is so anti-LGBT it’s an officially-designated hate group) and NOM are not blocked by the Pentagon.  (The Pentagon also does not block Republican political activist blogs like Red State and Breitbart, or Republican political activists like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter (several of whose sites also have blogs).

AFA is not banned.

The American Family Association is not banned.

NOM

The National Organization for Marriage is not banned.

Rush Limbaugh's Web site is not banned by the Pentagon

Rush Limbaugh’s Web site is not banned by the Pentagon

Conservative blog RedState is not banned.

Conservative blog RedState is not banned.

Today we learn something even more disturbing.

LGBT includes “anti-bullying” and “suicide prevention”

The category the Pentagon is using to block gay Web sites, “LGBT,” is a category that the Internet filtering company the Pentagon uses, Blue Coat, set up explicitly NOT for sex sites.  So we did not get caught by mistake in some generic ban on sex sites.

Rather, “LGBT” is an entirely other non-sexual category of sites that Blue Coat bans simply for being gay and trans.  Let me let Blue Coat explain to you how broad, and offensive, Blue Coat’s censorship category, LGBT, which the Pentagon has turned on, is:

LGBT

Websites that provide reference materials, news, legal information, anti-bullying and suicide-prevention information, and other resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) people or that relate to LGBT civil rights. The websites included in this category were selected because they do not contain sexually explicit content and are generally suitable for viewing by all age groups.

Examples: glsen.org, lgbtcenters.org, hrc.org (emphasis added)

Here it is on their site – note that they use GLSEN and HRC as examples of the sites they ban:

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 1.10.53 PM

In other words, this company, Blue Coat is banning any and all news related to gay and trans people, and even banning anti-bullying and suicide prevention information.  That’s an incredibly offensive category for any company to create, but adding in anti-bullying and suicide prevention as two specific things that need to be censored, is beyond offensive, especially when Blue Coat admits that sites are “generally suitable for viewing by all age groups.”

Funny that Blue Coat doesn’t have a category for any other minority group.  Nothing titled “Jews.”  Nothing titled “African-Americans.”  Nothing titled “Latinos.”  For some reason, the other minority that this Internet filtering company lets you ban are gays and trans people.

And before anyone claims that these categories can also be opt-in categories – meaning you set up the filter and you say “do include LGBT.”  Clearly that’s not what the Pentagon did.  Blue Coat shouldn’t even be offering the option to ban gay and trans sites when it does not feel the need to ban Jewish, black, and Latino sites.  Why does Blue Coat think gays are more offensive than blacks, Jews and Latinos?

And why is the Pentagon even using software that appears to be so bigoted and discriminatory?


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Coleman/100001217693049 Thomas Coleman

    It just came to me, clear and bright as day: access was denied because you’ve been running too many posts with fuzzy animals and cute computers, compounding your errors with occasional — but crucial — posts featuring both at the same time, sounding algorithmic alarms from the War Room to the Third Nation Enhanced Interrogation Center in Timbuktu and that Gigantic Complex of NSA Servers in Utah. I warned you about this . . . not once but . . . many times . . . and those chickens are coming home to roost — with a vengeance — in order to Preserve and Protect Our Precious Bodily Fluids, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace;)

  • qnetter

    And where’s the Jewish category? Or African-American?

  • Moderator3

    Posting this information five times is definitely more than enough.

  • george powers

    Have started a petition at the White House to end this practice please go to http://wh.gov/Uw58 and sign it.

  • george powers

    have started a petition at the White House to end this practice go to, http://wh.gov/Uw58 and please sign.

  • ComradeRutherford

    “Also includes sites that advocate, depict hostility or aggression toward, or denigrate an individual or group on the basis of race, religion, gender, nationality, ethnic origin, or other involuntary characteristics.”

    But RedState is NOT blocked???

  • ComradeRutherford

    Well, obviously human rights are a threat to the DoD!

  • Don Chandler

    Yeah, great name but what about the self-flaggellaters or is that already taken?

  • Stev84

    As noted in another post, some of these bans are also active on Navy ships. People often spend 6 months and more at a time at sea. And yet in the free time they can’t access perfectly harmless websites. That’s not acceptable.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KTMYRXLEIO2WKZN2LFOHQAIXPU Angst

    If the Pentagon can ban sites , they should be equal and ban all sites not pertinent to work that should be being done instead of goofing off (on taxpayers money) checking on non pertinent websites for Pentagon work!! Gays pay taxes too, so they are paying Pentagon for discrimination?? Yet Pentagon can access Playboy, Hustler, and other straight porn sites???

  • perljammer

    Thanks for pointing this out; I missed it. If sites fitting that category are getting through, it’s because the Pentagon has chosen bot to block them.

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ Papa Bear

    That makes me wonder: shouldn’t the Catholic Church also be banned? Not allowing priests to marry also undermines the “natural family” structure…

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    They do have a hate group category. It’s just not obvious. See my comment above.

    http://americablog.com/2013/01/dod-gay-website-filter-bullying-suicide-lgbt.html#comment-756148094

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’m sure I’m stating the obvious when I say that would be an amazing band name. ;-D

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Bedwell/1822575019 Michael Bedwell

    Knowledge of this at least in one branch goes back much farther than last Summer. OS-SLDN Board Member Capt. Matthew Phelps, one of the speakers at June’s Pentagon Pride event, has written, emphasis mine, that: “I’ve been complaining to EVERY LEVEL OF COMMUNICATIONS SHOP IN THE MARINE CORPS about this SINCE September 12, 2011.” Translation: LEADERSHIP doesn’t care. They don’t care about this discrimination, about various forms of discrimination by local commanders and service auxilliary groups, about the ban on gays from inclusion in the protections of the Military Equal Opportunity Program, or about extending partner benefits not banned by DOMA. And why should they when THE Leader doesn’t care. The 1993 Rand Report that the Powell-Nunn cabal trashed despite the untold taxpayer dollars spent on it simply because it endorsed lifting the ban said it best: “The message of policy change must be clear and must be consistently communicated FROM THE TOP. … It must be clear to the troops that behavioral dissent from the policy will not be permitted. … A monitoring process should be established to identify any problems early in the implementation process and address them immediately.” Despite his ever-increasing bows over the last two year for applause for repeal, and always predictable LIP service—including this week when he trumpeted that “my Administration remains fully committed to … protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members” at the same time he cowardly signed the ‘conscience’ clause-inclusive defense bill—when the President said upon signing the repeal bill in December 2010, “This is done,” he apparently meant, “I am done”—except to signal to the recalcitrant homophobes in the DoD that they can continue driving the repainted bus any way they want. “Sure, we finally had to let the fags on. But, by God, they’ll sit or stand where we tell them to!”

    Same thing happened with racial integration of the military—the hostile or simply indifferent didn’t change their behavior until they were FORCED to. “I was naive enough in those days to think that all I had to do was show my people that a problem existed, tell them to work on it, and that they would then attack the problem. It turned out of course that not a goddamn thing happened.” – President Kennedy’s late Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara recalling the millitary’s largely ignoring his order to improve treatment and opportunities for black servicemen both substantially and expeditiously based on the findings of his Gesell Committee on Equality of Opportunity in the Armed Forces.

    Hopefully no one reading these pages in naive enough to believe that Obama had no reason to anticipate all of these manifestation of persistent homophobia. Hell, the OPPOSITE is true, for, according to no less than Nancy Pelosi, it was the White House who pressured her and our other repeal allies in Congress to give in to then-SECDEF Gates’ demand that the mandate for nondiscrimination POST repeal be stricken from the bill—READ: legalizing permission FOR them to discriminate any way they chose. In January 2011, a month after he signed the repeal bill, HRC, despite many other mistakes, at least publicly declared: “it is critical that the Department of Defense address benefits issues and non-discrimination protections so that all service members are treated equally …through revised regulations that add same-sex committed partners to the definitions of ‘dependent’, ‘family member’, or other similar terms…and Including sexual orientation in the Military Equal Opportunity program [to] ensure that service members have an avenue to address discrimination complaints outside the chain-of-command, which has been essential in successful equal opportunity policies for other types of discrimination including race, religion, sex and national origin.” Less than two weeks later, SLDN wrote the President directly, calling on him “to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the armed forces based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN recommends that the executive order go into effect on the date of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal…. Signing legislation that allows for repeal was a necessary first step, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military.” And that August they wrote new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, amplifying that request by spelling out some of the multiple benefits for gay military couples that could be extended without violating DOMA.

    By the end of June of the next year, and “Pentagon Pride,” neither the President not Panetta had done ANYTHING to respond, except to throw more pretty words at the tens of thousands of LGBs protecting their country as Second Class Soldiers. Obama’s prerecorded Pride Month message was played, including his declaration that, “Now it’s our turn [to bit by bit, step by step, (bend) the arc of the moral universetowards justice and] renew our commitment,day in and day out to being the kind of people who make change happen.” Panetta’s video trumpeted: “Going forward, I remain committed to removing as many barriers as possible to make America’s military a model of equal opportunity. … Diversity is one of our greatest strengths.And during Pride Month and every month, let’s celebrate our rich diversity and renew our enduring commitment to equality for all.”

    Yet, here we are, with dusty box after dusty box filled with pretty words but NO ACTION. Instead, more and more instances of arbitrary discrimination across the military world are being revealed, the President wants us to accept his Repug pig in a poke as Panetta’s replacement, and has cowardly surrendered to the religiofascist Antigay Industry’s demand for a phony “conscience clause” in the defense budget. And what are HRC and OS-SLDN doing? Clapping like trained seals for the allegedly reborn Chuck Hagel, and merely responding to the Administration’s latest empty pledges with more impotent variations on, “Please, Mr. Bill, er Barack. Don’t hurt us.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/robgmartin67 Robert Martin

    @John Aravosis, I just sent a FB Message to the AmericaBlog FB page concerning Blue Coat WebPulse (the software that the Pentagon is using that your investigations is revolving around). You will find it interesting once you check out the links to note that WebPulse is marketed as a malware prevention software which is, I assume, they were able to sell it to the Pentagon. Why they would think that sites such as HRC and GLSEN would have malware is beyond me. I provided links in my message for you to check out. I also found Blue Coats FB page which I also provided you.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    This is interesting. Here’s their category for “Violence/Hate/Racism”:

    Sites that depict extreme physical harm to people, animals, or property, or that advocate or provide instructions on how to cause such harm. (Like sites that argue that gay people should be put in prison or executed?) Also includes sites that advocate, depict hostility or aggression toward, or denigrate an individual or group on the basis of race, religion, gender, nationality, ethnic origin, or other involuntary characteristics. (Like being gay, right? That’s an ‘involuntary characteristic’ according to every reputable medical and mental health organization.) Includes content that glorifies self-mutilation or suicide. (Again, are we talking perhaps about sites that advocate gay people kill themselves, as being preferable to existing in society as a gay person?)

    (In-line comments added.) Somehow the SPLC-identified hate group, the American Family Association (sic) doesn’t qualify? Denigrating people is all they do, and in fact SPLC’s explanation includes extremely bigoted anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and anti-Native American positions stated by the AFA over the decades as justification for placement on their hate-group list.

    (Source: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/american-family-association )

    (As an off-topic aside, this is my 10,000th post according to Disqus.)

  • UncleBucky

    Hm. Probably also bans Gay Nineties Historical sites, too?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_Nineties

    Remember, boys and girls, the Pentagon had been infiltrated by christianISTs…

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Remember how yesterday several of the trolls were remarking that gee, so many gay sites are gay porn, so it’s somehow perfectly understandable how blogs, political commentary, and humor are also hoovered up by the overly-broad category “LGBT”?

    The websites in this category were selected because they do not contain sexually explicit content and are generally suitable for viewing by all age groups. (emphasis added)

    There is no excuse, none, for having this filter available, much less for our government to be using it to keep people away from legitimate non-pornographic websites. Especially when it’s clear that conservative and even SPLC-identified hate groups aren’t filtered at all, but innocuous progressive sites are.

  • Don Chandler

    I think there is always room for OT at the expense of the catholic laity and their hierarchy. Grave Moral Disorder is actually hypocrisy. I’m hoping the Supreme Court remembers it’s not a Catholic Hierarchy and the Pentagon remembers it’s not there to attack or demean civilians…that is the churches job.

  • perljammer

    I’m trying to point out that the “they” in your question should be the Pentagon, not Blue Coat. If a particular category of sites are not blocked, it’s because someone in the Pentagon IT chain of command has either (1) decided, for whatever reason, not to block, or (2) hasn’t gotten around to adding it to the list of categories to block.

    Blue Coat does not have a “Hate Group” category; however, it does have the two categories described below. I have no idea what process Blue Coat uses to add particular sites to particular categories, or whether it’s possible for a customer (e.g., Pentagon) to add/delete sites from categories (I would consider that to be likely).

    Political/Activist Groups
    Sites sponsored by or that provide information on political parties, special interest groups, or any organization that promotes change or reform in public policy, public opinion, social practice, or economic activities.

    Religion
    Sites that promote and provide information on conventional or unconventional religious or quasireligious subjects, as well as churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship. This does not include sites about alternative forms of spirituality or ideology such as witchcraft or atheist beliefs (Alternative Spirituality/Belief).

  • Stev84

    More likely his lover ran away so he (or she) wouldn’t be there when the police arrived.

  • nicho

    But why aren’t they blocking the hate sites as well?

  • nicho

    Being a Catholic priest is turning out to be a grave moral disorder.

  • perljammer

    John, I think you’re pointing the finger at the wrong party here. Blue Coat provides a metric crapload of Web Filter categories; the customer can select any, all, or none of them. So it’s DOD, not Blue Coat, who has chosen to block LGBT related sites.

    Even if you’re not aware of it, I’m sure many of your readers know that a lot of corporations block a wide variety of content from being received on their internal networks. Social networking, sports, stock market — the list goes on and on. This is all done in the name of “Thou shalt not use your work computer for non-work purposes.”

    Or perhaps you believe that Blue Coat discriminates against greeting cards, health, web-based email, auctions, art/culture, brokerage/trading, or any of the plethora of Blue Coat categories. You can get the whole list here: http://www.bluecoat.com/sites/default/files/documents/files/bcs_ds_bcwf_cat_v4b.pdf

  • Don Chandler

    Grave moral disorder…

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    self bondage! ROTFL

  • jomicur

    Since most (if not all) of these blocked sites backed Obama for reelection, it’ll be very interesting to hear what the White House has to say about this. I mean, Jay Carney wouldn’t dodge questions relating to a gay issue would he? He’s always been SOOO good on them.

  • fritzrth

    Actually, given the sites they seem to be blocking, maybe they should change the name to Red Coat.

  • nicho

    Totally, totally OT — but funny as hell. Kinky Catholic priest in Springfield, Illinois has to call 9-11 to get him out of handcuffs in the rectory.

    http://www.queerty.com/kinky-illinois-priest-calls-911-to-help-get-him-out-of-handcuffs-20130104/

    “I’m going to need help getting out before this becomes a medical emergency,” Father Tom Donovan told a dispatcher who sounds a bit incredulous during the Nov. 28 call.

    “You’re stuck in a pair of handcuffs?” the dispatcher asks.

    “[I was] playing with them and I need help getting out,” Donovan responds.

    Donovan told the dispatcher that he was alone in the rectory. It’s not clear exactly how he ended up in handcuffs or why he feared a medical emergency. His voice sounds garbled or muffled on the tape, and
    sources say that police discovered some sort of gag on the priest when they arrived.

    Donovan was eventually freed from his self-induced captivity and was granted a leave of absence by Bishop Thomas Paprocki. If Paprocki’s name rings a bell, that’s because he just testified against Illinois’ proposed marriage-equality bill yesterday, saying it would undermine the “natural family” structure.

  • dcinsider

    Good grief. As usual, MSM all over this . . . not.

  • Zorba

    Blue Coat? Maybe they should change their name to “Blue Nose.”
    I mean, really. Isn’t DADT over with now? I thought that LGBT people could now serve openly in the military.
    What the hell else do they ban? Any website that is not right-wing and Christianist?

  • ckg1

    I think it’s time Blue Coat got introduced to Anonymous. They’d have FUN with this bunch of jerks.

  • http://twitter.com/ptelder Kenneth Brown

    Blue Coat sells tools that are used to oppress people all over the planet. Shoving LGBT people into the closet is all in a day’s work for them, really. They’re well known in the security world as having gone completely to the dark side.

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