Thursday, March 7, 2013

Salem Missouri: The Home of Irony!

As if to balance the cosmic scales after Fox News' recent witch-slapping of America's Pagans, a Federal Judge has ordered a Missouri Public Library to stop blocking access to websites it deemed 'criminal' or 'occult.' Criminal and occult by Missouri standards being anything that makes panicky, miss-informed parents go 'won't somebody please think about the children?'
In fairness, 87% of Missouri PTA members suffer from Helen Lovejoy syndrome. 
"Wow Bill, those new traffic cams are
practically paying for themselves!"

-Salem MO Mayor Gary Brown
So criminal and occult? Surly they were blocking websites on how to break into cars and summon Cthulhu from the depths, right? Nope. According to the ACLU suit, the blocked sites included not only websites about Wicca and astrology, two subjects often lumped into the 'occult' category, but also sites about Native American beliefs...because they haven't been through enough. The whole thing came to light when Salem, Missouri resi-huh? Oh, didn't I mention? Yeah, this happened in Salem Missouri. The library that's treating witches like criminals is in a town called Salem. Enjoy!

"Oh no Miss Hunter, that's not a
threat...It's a promise...Oo-o-o-o-o!"
Anyway, the kerfluffle started when Salem resident and future vampire slayer Anaka Hunter (yeah, that's really her name, someone call Joss Whedon) noticed that she couldn't access certain sites while doing research at the local library. Hunter complained to library director Glenda Wofford* who informed her that she had no control over what the filtering software blocked. Ok, so the software needs tweaking, fine, but Wofford then told Hunter that she would have to notify the 'proper authorities' if she felt that a patron would misuse the information they were trying to access. She then tittered uncontrollably and floated away in a magic bubble. Uh-huh, Glenda threatened to call the cops on someone for trying to look up a library.

WeBlock® Filtering Software:
"Protecting you from other
points of view since 2004."
Hurray! The good guys won, and the library has agreed to stop blocking information based on whatever close-minded standards it was using. Cool. But how did this happen in the first place? Filtering software only does what someone tells it to do. That means somebody must have made the conscious decision to check a box somewhere that tagged terms like Wicca and Native American as inappropriate subjects. It also probably means that there's a company out there that makes software with a 'Censor the Indians' button. Shouldn't someone be looking into that?
"Religious tolerance? People getting along? Sounds a little gay to me...better block that shit."
-the Salem Public Library's IT guy

*What? It's not that much of a stretch. I mean Glenda sounds like Glinda...just let me have it.


  1. This is patently horrible. Where the hell did any of these people get their degrees? The very first thing we learned in my very first class in my graduate program for a Master's in Library and Information Science is that *WE DON'T CENSOR SHIT*. There are libraries that don't listen to the ALA, but usually it's because they want to keep kids from looking at porn or something. This is the first time I've heard of something THAT egregious happening since like 1960. Worst. Librarians. Ever.

  2. This town is always in the news, Now the mayor wants to kill a dog for a human bite, we'll see come election time who is re-elected

  3. Salem, MO used to have a school of Wicca. what a coincidence!