Update: City of Pittsburgh Blocks Lesbian Blog (Again)

As you may remember, the City of Pittsburgh began blocking this blog in October 2012 for no apparent reason – the closest I had to an official explanation was “its just crappy web filters, Sue” from a former City employee. That’s called “scoffing” and its not a very constructive response. Lesbian, blocked website, Pittsburgh,

Well.

Hint. It is not an excuse. This isn’t Mayberry. We are a City “rebranded” as a cutting edge tech center for crying out loud. Surely some centrist professor at CMU can send a freshman trotting down to CIS (City Information Services – not the cool one) to get this fixed. Or maybe a 9th grader from CAPA? Seriously … incompetency doesn’t negate impact. The consequence is homophobia. Say it with me.

A few weeks ago, my site was miraculously opened. Yahoo. Google. Rejoice! For a brief moment, I wondered if some slush money was spent on new web filters but … nah.

Then Tuesday I published this rather innocent post about the impact of the slush fund scandal on the LGBTQ community. I could see someone from the City visited my site early in the day. Hours later, they’ve blocked me again (but not my comrades at 2 Political Junkies or The Pittsburgh Comet.)

Whoa.

So the “crappy web filters” have very interesting timing.

Why does it matter? As I said before “It is lazy secondary discrimination and it is wrong.”

If the City web filters “caught” words such as African-American, Jewish, Asian, Catholic, Muslim, or so on and tagged them as offensive content ON THE SURFACE … people would howl in outrage.

  • The inconsistent application to political blogs puts this in violation of the CIty’s own non-discrimination ordinance. A lesbian political site was BLOCKED during the most recent election which marked the election of the first openly lesbian woman to the US Senate and the first openly gay man to the PA House of Representatives.
  • The City is tacitly deeming “lesbian = pornography” which is offensive, inaccurate and potentially harmful to LGBTQ people around the region. It objectifies us and reduces us to a shameful stigma. That’s a disturbing message.
  • It creates an unfair burden on LGBTQ employees who have to ask for access to sites comparable to heterosexual sites that are open – I ran into this at a former job all of the time. It would take 2 email messages, the effort to explain my rational and a few days. How is that productive? I only asked for access to work related sites (often times, grant research) so it was humiliating. I even had coworkers ask me to ask for them because they were uncomfortable. Yes, that’s the type of environment you create. (Think hostile work environment.)

The erratic nature of the filtering suggests it probably is a technical issue, but that doesn’t absolve the City of responsibility to address the problem. Maybe we can set up an IndieGoGo campaign to bring an intern to the CIS team?

Meanwhile, I’m working on my next parody song – “Just Crappy Web Filters, That’s All”

Turning me on, turning me off,
making me feel like I want too much
blogging bout you’s just putting me through it all of the time

I could log out but I won’t go
well it’d be easier I know
I can’t read a thing from my rants down to my prose
why does it always seem to be
me complaining to you, you ignoring me
I need to chill, just crappy fil-ters, that’s all

(ok, its a rough draft)

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