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Author Topic: Connecticut highschool blocks conservative websites, allows liberal ones
Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Hannibal:
I disagree.

Children don't have the same "free speech" and "freedom" rights as adults. They live in a supervised environment.

Schools should teach children Math, Physics, computer science, history and how to be productive/responsible in their future lives.

You want to teach your children to shoot guns? do it yourself as a responsible adult, or send them to the Army.

Thats my opinion

That's an incredibly sloppy analysis. If you were american i'd assume you were playing dumb in order to enable tyranny but since you are a foreigner in the usa i take it you just dont grasp constitutional basics.

The nra website isnt about teaching kids to use guns. It's about legal advocacy. The kid in question was trying to rad the nra website in order to fulfill a school assignment on gun control. The school assigns homework that requires research into the issue of gun control and then supresses the arguments from the pro-2nd amendment side ... not acceptable. It's not acceptable even if they did it by accident of sloppy net nannying. Tom's bevy of hypothetical excuses could only have purchase if the school had immediately corrected the supression after being informed of it.

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LetterRip
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Pete,

quote:
Tom's bevy of hypothetical excuses could only have purchase if the school had immediately corrected the supression after being informed of it.
If you look at the timing of the complaint it was during the end of school year 'rush', so whoever makes the actual changes might not have gotten to that item in their inbox. Their seems no particular reason that this should have been a high priority item to anyone.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Pete,

quote:
Tom's bevy of hypothetical excuses could only have purchase if the school had immediately corrected the supression after being informed of it.
If you look at the timing of the complaint it was during the end of school year 'rush', so whoever makes the actual changes might not have gotten to that item in their inbox. Their seems no particular reason that this should have been a high priority item to anyone.
How about to avoid the appearance of bias, corruption and partisanship infecting what is supposed to be a neutral institution and especially once it made national news?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Tom's bevy of hypothetical excuses could only have purchase if the school had immediately corrected the supression after being informed of it.
Again, the kid told the superintendent. No doubt the guy who administered the firewall -- who is almost certainly the school's only network admin -- would have added it to his "to-do" list once notified. As I said earlier, I found the expectation of a one-week turnaround to be laughably naive.

---------

quote:
How about to avoid the appearance of bias, corruption and partisanship infecting what is supposed to be a neutral institution...
It seems to me that it's not the network admin's fault that paranoid, partisan ******** exist.
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PSRT
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quote:
How about to avoid the appearance of bias, corruption and partisanship infecting what is supposed to be a neutral institution and especially once it made national news?
Cause at this time of year, the network admin is either off until the new fiscal year on July 1, OR, is busy doing stuff that is absolutely 100% critical to the bare bones functioning of the school district.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
quote:
How about to avoid the appearance of bias, corruption and partisanship infecting what is supposed to be a neutral institution and especially once it made national news?
Cause at this time of year, the network admin is either off until the new fiscal year on July 1, OR, is busy doing stuff that is absolutely 100% critical to the bare bones functioning of the school district.
That's funny, right before the school year ends seems like an important time to resolve issues like this so people don't remember them come the fall and voting to approve new school levies and bonds or not...
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TomDavidson
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So you're suggesting that the school's network admin prioritize appeasing partisan dips**ts over providing actual value?
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Seneca
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Isn't being accountable to the voters just so inconvenient?!

It would be so much easier if the school district could just pass whatever bonds they want. After all, school staff are perfect and never screw up...

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MattP
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Just curious - is there anyone here that works in IT who doesn't think this is a joke of a non-troversy?

Filter exceptions are rarely going to be prioritized as critical work items so for it to take anything less than a week in a (typically understaffed) school IT department would be unusual. Where I work, which has a large full-time IT staff, *most* requests take at least 2-3 days to be handled and the low priority stuff can take longer.

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TomDavidson
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I just want to point out that Seneca himself has gone from being outraged at a clear example of bias to being outraged by what he thinks is the school's stubborn refusal to do whatever is necessary to avoid the appearance of bias. He's now spending his time debating whether the school is responsive enough to voters.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Just curious - is there anyone here that works in IT who doesn't think this is a joke of a non-troversy?

Filter exceptions are rarely going to be prioritized as critical work items so for it to take anything less than a week in a (typically understaffed) school IT department would be unusual. Where I work, which has a large full-time IT staff, *most* requests take at least 2-3 days to be handled and the low priority stuff can take longer.

You are missing the point here.

It's not a matter of getting it fixed. Hell, I'd be mad if they fixed it in a day. The point is that it was this way at all because it happened with so many[ sites as to be an obvious pattern of bias and abuse over such a long span of time.

If it was one website, maybe it could be written off. But it appears to be many, possibly dozens or hundreds, all in line with a political slant. You can't call that a coincidence or a function of error or bad programming in the filtration software.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The point is that it was this way at all because it happened with so many sites as to be an obvious pattern of bias...
Hands-up, anyone who's actually administered a content filter and agrees with Seneca on this...?
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Seriati
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Just curious to those "in IT" who are not outraged, if this was a Texas highshcool and the banned and allowed sites were flipped, would you still think it just innocent coincidence and a filtering issue?

I'm finding it hard to comprehend how any automatic filter (that had not had an intervention) would restrict a Republican site and not a Democratic one. I could see it for a fringe party or a new site, but that seems improbable without deliberate human manipulation - which would lend credence to the the idea that something untoward occurred.

It's easy to see the NRA being restricted, they're well known and have existed for ever. That wouldn't apply to Bloomberg's group, but I can't see the Brady Campaign's site not being filtered by an objective and equally applied criteria.

There seems to be a consistent trend of catching the left with their hand in the cookie jar and people providing "innocent" explanations. Credibility only goes so far on this. Much like we wouldn't have much tolerence, and shouldn't, if creationism found its way into offiicial science curiculum by "innocent" mistake.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm finding it hard to comprehend how any automatic filter (that had not had an intervention) would restrict a Republican site and not a Democratic one.
I'll give you a number of options. Since I don't know anything about this specific scenario, I don't know which applies:

1) The Republican site contains slightly different content, like a webforum full of swearing people or long discussions that trip multiple automated filters not triggered by the Democratic one.
2) The Republican site is better-known and has therefore been manually categorized, while the Democratic one has not.
3) The Republican site is hosted by a less-reputable or even blacklisted hosting provider.
4) The Republican site has itself been hacked or contains malware.
5) The Republican site includes features -- like subscriber webmail or .gif-enabled RSS feeds -- which are automatically blocked.
6) Both the Republican site and the Democratic site were blocked, but the Democratic site was unblocked by user request.
7) The Republican site was manually blocked at user request; no such request was made for the Democratic one.


Of those, "manual human intervention" applies to only the last two, which are also the least likely.

-------

quote:
There seems to be a consistent trend of catching the left with their hand in the cookie jar and people providing "innocent" explanations.
I would say that there's a consistent trend of the right manufacturing stupid scandals in an attempt to smear the left. It appears to be working on you.
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MattP
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quote:
Just curious to those "in IT" who are not outraged, if this was a Texas highshcool and the banned and allowed sites were flipped, would you still think it just innocent coincidence and a filtering issue?
Let's make it even more personal - if it were happening at my children's school I would have no outrage until my child's requests to unblock the sites that they required access to were denied or unreasonably delayed at which point I'd escalate it with the local administration and, if necessary, the school board.

As it stands there are just too many mundane explanations available.

Even assuming malfeasance it would almost certainly be one individual acting alone and that individual should be appropriately disciplined. There is no conspiracy here.

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MattP
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The other issues is that there's no indication that they aren't cherry picking the sites as a pretext to complain. There are thousands of web sites that advocate for a liberal or conservative position. If filtering is not perfect (it isn't) there will be a lot of sites on either side that are blocked when they shouldn't be or aren't blocked when they should be. In that noise there will be enough sites slipping through the cracks to argue any agenda you want to argue, provided you cite only those sites and not all the other ones that are properly handled. For all we know the national GOP site is not blocked and the national dems site is. This is not a quantitative analysis of the filtering software. This is someone saying that it sure seems like there's a bias in what is filtered.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
The other issues is that there's no indication that they aren't cherry picking the sites as a pretext to complain. There are thousands of web sites that advocate for a liberal or conservative position. If filtering is not perfect (it isn't) there will be a lot of sites on either side that are blocked when they shouldn't be or aren't blocked when they should be. In that noise there will be enough sites slipping through the cracks to argue any agenda you want to argue, provided you cite only those sites and not all the other ones that are properly handled. For all we know the national GOP site is not blocked and the national dems site is. This is not a quantitative analysis of the filtering software. This is someone saying that it sure seems like there's a bias in what is filtered.

Except that these aren't "fringe sites" that are recent to the web and the organizations behind them are fairly ancient as the net goes. Your explanation doesn't pan out.
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MattP
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quote:
Your explanation doesn't pan out.
I didn't say they were fringe sites. I'm saying they picked some prominent sites to complain about while it may be that there are just as prominent sites that don't demonstrate the problem or that swing the other direction.

What about national GOP vs dem party? MSNBC vs FoxNews? HuffPo vs Drudge? DailyKos vs Breitbart? NOM vs HRC? There many potential "match-ups" out there. Pick a handful going in the same direction and you can claim conspiracy - unless it's not a representative sample.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Except that these aren't "fringe sites" that are recent to the web and the organizations behind them are fairly ancient as the net goes.
Every source I've seen has actually only explicitly named five sites. Have you seen another list?
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Even assuming malfeasance it would almost certainly be one individual acting alone and that individual should be appropriately disciplined. There is no conspiracy here.

I didn't claim a conspiracy, malfeasance is enough for upset and outrage. I would be happy to accept prompt correction, and an explanation for how it happened and if needed a dismissal of the person who did it.
quote:
The other issues is that there's no indication that they aren't cherry picking the sites as a pretext to complain.
I've acknowledged from the start that one persons anecdotal results are all we have to go on and the trend may be false or disappear with actual data. Still, one might expect calls to get to the bottom of it, rather than defenses of why there's nothing to see (without I might add, any reason to believe there is NOT in fact something to see). Presumably everyone here acknowledges that there is a possiblity that this was the result of intentional acts, and that a person may have in fact been motivated by bias.

Much like even if you support - generally - zero tolerance policies you can accept that its a ridiculous result to kick a kid out for ambiguosly eating a pop tart into the shape of a gun.
quote:
There are thousands of web sites that advocate for a liberal or conservative position. If filtering is not perfect (it isn't) there will be a lot of sites on either side that are blocked when they shouldn't be or aren't blocked when they should be.
Agreed, that in fact is the most likely reason that for instance the Vatican site was blocked but randomly sected Islamic site was not. It's a side issue though, unless its shown that was all that occurred.
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Seriati
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Orginally posted by Tom Davidson:
quote:
quote:

I'm finding it hard to comprehend how any automatic filter (that had not had an intervention) would restrict a Republican site and not a Democratic one.

I'll give you a number of options. Since I don't know anything about this specific scenario, I don't know which applies:

[*** Deletion by Seriati]

Of those, "manual human intervention" applies to only the last two, which are also the least likely.

Based on what? Your personal opinion, colored through the lense of there's nothing to see? If anything human intervention is the most likely explanation for why a Democratic party site would avoid an automatic political filter. Particularly one that seems to have been as extensive as this. No reason it necessarily had to be bad faith, but it's the most likely reason.
quote:
quote:
There seems to be a consistent trend of catching the left with their hand in the cookie jar and people providing "innocent" explanations.
I would say that there's a consistent trend of the right manufacturing stupid scandals in an attempt to smear the left. It appears to be working on you.
You keep repeating this meme that the guilty are really just presented that way because their victims keep making claims about them and you wonder why I think you're trying a Big Lie strategy? You haven't shown a single one of these events is manufactured other than by the bad faith or incompetence of the left. Nor have you shown a single one that has been as blown out of proportion even as much as the so called "War on Women".
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Your personal opinion, colored through the lense of there's nothing to see?
That's a wonderful way to spin "innocent until proven guilty"
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MattP
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quote:
Presumably everyone here acknowledges that there is a possiblity that this was the result of intentional acts, and that a person may have in fact been motivated by bias.
Absolutely. And if so, it should be dealt with by the appropriate local authorities. I doubt it, but it's not impossible. This is a minor administrative issue one way or another with pretty straightforward local technical and or personnel remedies. It's not a national story, certainly not (yet) deserving of the level of outrage that it's generated.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Presumably everyone here acknowledges that there is a possiblity that this was the result of intentional acts, and that a person may have in fact been motivated by bias.
Absolutely. And if so, it should be dealt with by the appropriate local authorities. I doubt it, but it's not impossible. This is a minor administrative issue one way or another with pretty straightforward local technical and or personnel remedies. It's not a national story, certainly not (yet) deserving of the level of outrage that it's generated.
Can you see why this has implications beyond the school where this was found? Do you see the larger implications of granting monopolies over educating our nation's children to highly partisan organizations and what the natural outcome is?
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MattP
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quote:
Can you see why this has implications beyond the school where this was found? Do you see the larger implications of granting monopolies over educating our nation's children to highly partisan organizations and what the natural outcome is?
It doesn't currently have any implications. We don't know what has actually happened.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Can you see why this has implications beyond the school where this was found? Do you see the larger implications of granting monopolies over educating our nation's children to highly partisan organizations and what the natural outcome is?
It doesn't currently have any implications. We don't know what has actually happened.
So you are claiming the NEA and it's membership pool hasn't ever done anything wrong in pursuit of partisan goals before?
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
It's not a national story, certainly not (yet) deserving of the level of outrage that it's generated.

I agree it shouldn't be a national story. However, it seems increasingly that the only day to deal with bureacratic weight is to expose it to national attention and allow focused outrage to change it's mind. You see it everyday that "problems" are resolved when the news camera's appear, particularly problems that are caused by individuals who believe they have authority and you should respect their capricious decisions.

This one seems early, but it does say they took it to one level - got no response - and then took it to a higher one.

[ June 23, 2014, 03:41 PM: Message edited by: Seriati ]

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PSRT
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quote:
So you are claiming the NEA and it's membership pool hasn't ever done anything wrong in pursuit of partisan goals before?
Are you claiming the school board, the superintendent, and the tech administrator are part of the NEA?

Sure, the NEA has occocially engaged in wrong doing in pursuit of partisan goals before. This STORY is the right wing smear machine engaging in wrong doing in pursuit of partisan goals, though, absent a SIGNIFICANT amount of evidence that isn't in play.

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PSRT
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quote:
This one seems early, but it does say they took it to one level - got no response - and then took it to a higher one.
I STILL want to know what normal lag time (For end of May/June, not other times of year that are completely different for schools) would be with unblocking websites, in this school district.
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Seneca
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quote:
Are you claiming the school board, the superintendent, and the tech administrator are part of the NEA?
Very often these entities are absolute hostages to the NEA and its child organizations which wield enormous power in school districts, even in places where it is illegal for their members to strike! That should tell you a lot right there.

quote:
Sure, the NEA has occocially engaged in wrong doing in pursuit of partisan goals before.
Wow, a grudging admission that the sky is blue... You mean to say partisan organizations can't be trusted with monopolistic power?! Wow!


quote:
This STORY is the right wing smear machine engaging in wrong doing in pursuit of partisan goals
What wrongdoing is occurring besides what the district did? Are you claiming that bringing attention to this is somehow illegal or immoral?
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
quote:
This one seems early, but it does say they took it to one level - got no response - and then took it to a higher one.
I STILL want to know what normal lag time (For end of May/June, not other times of year that are completely different for schools) would be with unblocking websites, in this school district.
Not sure the right answer - here - is to unblock sites, it may be to block more given their preferences. Personally, I'm relatively opposed to filters.

But it doesn't take any time at all to tell someone that you'll investigate and make sure the filter is applied impartially. Or to affirm, "what you said seems wrong to me" and promise to investigate.

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AI Wessex
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One can't help but wonder how Seneca and Seriati feel about the large-scale censoring of evolution in the Texas school system or other schools censoring Mark Twain. It seems to me that picking on one very ambiguous incident to complain about for two full pages pales in comparison to the outrages against freedom of thought and expression that are well-documented and occurring throughout the country, mostly in conservative and disproportionately Republican districts. Is it because this school is in Connecticut, which tends to vote Democratic?
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scifibum
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quote:
What wrongdoing is occurring besides what the district did? Are you claiming that bringing attention to this is somehow illegal or immoral?
1. No one has demonstrated that the district did anything to block or unblock the particular websites the kid tested. So "what the district did", as far as we know, is used some filtering software.

2. Yes, it's immoral to spin up the outrage machine without sufficient evidence that anything outrageous happened.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
One can't help but wonder how Seneca and Seriati feel about the large-scale censoring of evolution in the Texas school system or other schools censoring Mark Twain.

You really need to wonder? I'm not in favor of censorship in any school system, period. The extent of "protections" I really support on kids and technology are those designed to keep them from interacting with exploitive adults or making irrevocably stupid decisions on a permanent electronic forum.

Evolution is a funny to me. I don't think we do anyone a service by not preparing them for the debate. I still remember how embarrassed I was as a kid getting schooled by my religious school cousin when I didn't even have an idea that Evolution was disputed by anyone. Years of self education later, I'm better off. Though I still like to get people's goats by telling them the only version of the theory that is testible and proven is intelligent design (and no I don't mean creationism in disguise as that term is often used).
quote:
It seems to me that picking on one very ambiguous incident to complain about for two full pages pales in comparison to the outrages against freedom of thought and expression that are well-documented and occurring throughout the country, mostly in conservative and disproportionately Republican districts.
If you brought me a specific incidence of a filter like this working in reverse I'd be just as outraged. Somehow I think that's the only way you'd be outraged.
quote:
Is it because this school is in Connecticut, which tends to vote Democratic?
Oddly, that part of CT is Republican, which is why this probably even got noticed. CT does make me laugh though, you'll never find a more "reliably" blue area with more contempt for the poor on a personal level. You can quite literally hobnob with major Blue donors who'd move if a black person moved into their neighborhood, or put their daughter into a private school if she dated an hispanic boy and never realize the conflict in their views.
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AI Wessex
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So, it seems even less likely that there is any sort of conspiracy to censor right-leaning web sites if this was a right-leaning community.

Let it go, it doesn't reflect well on anyone to continue to complain about it.

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LetterRip
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Seriati,

quote:
I'm not in favor of censorship in any school system, period.
There are generally federal and state requirements for schools to have filters and then local PTAs want additional filters on top of that - the requirements are usually quite vague 'harmful to minors'. For schools it is generally 'safest' to go with the broadest set of filters and then exclude stuff from the filter on request.

http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/state-internet-filtering-laws.aspx

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velcro
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Seriati wrote
quote:
But it doesn't take any time at all to tell someone that you'll investigate and make sure the filter is applied impartially. Or to affirm, "what you said seems wrong to me" and promise to investigate.
Yes, and it doesn't take any time at all to actually read previous posts, and to see that the Superintendent addressed this on June 20.

Here's the link again, because the previous one was broken and it took me 10 seconds to find the correct one.

Seriati also wrote:
quote:
Oddly, that part of CT is Republican, which is why this probably even got noticed. CT does make me laugh though, you'll never find a more "reliably" blue area with more contempt for the poor on a personal level. You can quite literally hobnob with major Blue donors who'd move if a black person moved into their neighborhood, or put their daughter into a private school if she dated an hispanic boy and never realize the conflict in their views.
If you look, Woodbury voted Republican 55% to 44% Democratic in 2012. Bethlehem, the other town that sends kids to the high school, voted 58 to 41. You are saying that if it were 55% Democratic, this would not have been noticed by anyone? Really? How can you possibly believe this to be the case, from a logical standpoint?

Now, to business. I live in Connecticut. I say that your generalized, misinformed, and completely unsubstantiated rant is dead wrong. Do you live in Connecticut, or have you ever lived in Connecticut, or even in New England? Do you have any basis for your statement, other than contempt for residents of a "reliably" blue area? If so, please present it. If not, retract your statement, or those of us at Ornery will reevaluate how much weight to give your statements in the future.

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velcro
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Here's a blog post from Dell.

Briefly, the school blocked Political/Advocacy groups (gop.com, democrats.org) but unblocked Not Rated sites. Those are new or infrequently visited sites which are blocked by default because they have not been evaluated by Dell in any way. But this school unblocked them.

If the software was used properly, then all the "liberal" small, new sites that the student viewed would have been blocked, and all the Political/Advocacy groups would have been blocked too.

Finally, we can all see what sites are blocked or not here
They fixed the sites listed in the news articles, but you can try your own and see.

I just noticed two things:

First, the Democratic national site must have been unavailable to the student, otherwise that would have been the top of the list. So clearly no conspiracy there.

Second: gop.com, and democrats.org
Hmmm. What does that say about mindset? [Smile]

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D.W.
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Amusing but it probably only means that some other GOP beat them to the punch on the .org [Wink]
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scifibum
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Thanks for providing the post from Dell.

I can't wait for the oh-we-learned-more-and-it's-not-actually-a-scandal corrections to spread like wildfire through the right wing blogosphere. (who has that kind of time)q

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