Recently, I wrote a DK diary about having "same-sex marriage" (which would probably be better characterized as marriage equality) blocked in online comments to a story in the Idaho State Journal. ISJ is the local newspaper in the Southeast Idaho city of Pocatello. The story I attempted to post the comments to was about representative Elaine Smith (D-Pocatello) stating that protests by Add the Words at the Idaho state capitol building were having no effect ('Add the Words' protests aren't effective, Rep. Elaine Smith says). I thought the representative's comment were erroneous, and simply wanted to post a comment in support of Add the Words, and also critical of the stance taken by Smith.
The blog received many comments about how filter-blocking of such innocent terms has become a common practice. I have to admit I was naive about this. When I tried to post my comment, I received a message that it could not be posted because it contained profanity. It contained no words commonly understood to be profane (like George Carlin's seven words you can't say on television), and I couldn't understand what the problem was. I tried editing the comment in many different ways, but the result was always the same: it was blocked for profanity. Exasperated, I wrote the diary. A friend who read it later told me it was because it contained the word "sex," and that she once had the misfortune of having a comment blocked for the same reason.
I just got this email message from an editor at the paper:
We heard of and wanted to address your concern about the comment you had written on our web site being blocked because it contained the phrase "same-sex."Thank you, editor.
The word "sex" was part of a list of words automatically blocked by a spam/profanity blocker on the web site. The list of words is a default list which we can and do modify. We do not think the phrase "same-sex" is profane and did not intend for it to be blocked from comments on our site. We also understand that same-sex marriage is something that many people feel strongly about and are discussing on online forums. The word "sex" has since been removed from our list of blocked words. We apologize for the misunderstanding and inconvenience.
Add the Words has been protesting for eight years to have the four words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" added to Idaho's state Human Rights Act. Elaine Smith is objecting because they're tired of waiting, and are now regularly protesting in the state capitol. Hopefully the Idaho state government will learn something from the paper, because there's nothing wrong with those four words either.