Sunday, August 01, 2010

1 AUG 10: Filter Kings

It's amazing what a wide-ranging audience this blog has built. Today we have e-mails from opposite ends of the political spectrum - but we may have found an issue on which they can agree. It's not quite like Republicans and Democrats supporting the Northern Little League baseball team, but it's in that direction....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: The President of the local National Alliance chapter tells your blog he plans to sue the Chattahoochee Valley Library system. He claims the libraries are practicing censorship. But thankfully, he is NOT demanding the magazine racks include Playboy and Penthouse.

We first were told about a possible lawsuit several days ago. But this Friday e-mailed news release made the threat more solid....

Free Speech advocate Michael Weaver of Columbus,Ga. will be pursuing legal action against the public libraries of Columbus,Georgia. The libraries are illegally blocking political speech through their web filter software. The American Library Association and the ACLU of Georgia have already been contacted regarding their egregious assault against our beloved 1st Amendment rights. Also,a protest is in the works in the near future. Free Speech is necessary in order for intellectual ideas to flourish in a free society. Let's take back our rights as American citizens and say no to censorship! End of release..

Sincerely, Michael Weaver

If the name sounds familiar, Weaver is the man who says this blog inspired his "News 4 Whites" blog [16 Jul]. We're still waiting for someone to launch a counterpart to this -- such as a local environmentalist offering "News 4 Greens."

Michael Weaver phoned me first during the week, to express his concern about what the libraries are doing. He said political speech is a different matter from restricting access to pornographic websites. Come to think of it, you don't hear much about people checking X-rated sites for the articles....

But the way Michael Weaver described the situation in his phone call was misleading. He claimed "conservative" websites are blocked at public libraries. So I went to a library branch and checked. Rush Limbaugh came up. Glenn Beck came up. Andrew Breitbart's "Big Government" came up. Even Weaver's blog appeared - so you'd think he'd send a thank-you card, not legal papers.

An e-mail from Michael Weaver later in the day clarified his complaint. It listed six specific websites that library filters block, two of them directly connected with the National Alliance. Weaver would call them "white separatist" sites. Please don't call him a white supremacist. After all, were Diana Ross's backup singers white?

Michael Weaver told me he was in contact with library director Claudya Muller about blocked sites. A few of them are now visible at library computers, but he apparently plans to sue about the others. He calls it a matter of "diversity." The library filters call them "hate" or "extreme" - so don't even think about checking at libraries today for updates on the X Games.

Michael Weaver wrote in one e-mail the public libraries appeared to be "Marxist oriented." And he claimed on the phone the New Black Panther Party is NOT blocked by the filters. But when I checked at a library branch Friday, the official New Black Panther site actually WAS blocked as "hate." If Michael Weaver meets with Edward DuBose about this "egregious assault," I want to be there.

I asked Michael Weaver over the phone if he'd considered going before the Muscogee County Library Board, as opposed to filing a lawsuit. He didn't seem to know the board existed -- but then again, he might not like that board. It censored a giant Albert Paley sculpture several years ago, after people complained.

We called the Columbus Public Library Friday afternoon for a comment on Michael Weaver's lawsuit threat. But our message for director Claudya Muller had no reply by Saturday night. Maybe she's been busy online herself - at a site like Legal Zoom.

The Chattahoochee Valley Library system uses McAfee's SmartFilter to screen what people see on public access computers. It appears to let library executives choose what sites are blocked, and why. If I was in charge, I might start by blocking any site mentioning the reality series "Jersey Shore."

The library system's website admits computer filters are in place, but for "sexually explicit or extremely violent websites." Obviously that description is open to some interpretation. Are you blocked from visiting YouTube to watch Three Stooges movies?

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now to that opposite end of the spectrum -- as an African-American civil rights leader follows up a message from Friday....


That's right. My ego is not very big. However, my dedication to community and fair play, equality if you will, is huge. I know being comical in your response is part of your blog persona or your thing. I have no problem with that. But you should not confuse my frankness about what I do, why I do it, or why I say it with personal ego.

What I was sharing with you is that from the beginning many have tried to marginalize me in order to drown out my voice. They have all been unsuccessful, though they continue to try. Any credit for the good I do and the Grassroots Unity Movement goes to God.

I have this saying that if you do not like the truth straight no chaser. Chances are you will never like me, and that goes for my columns and emails. I make no apologies for about being forthright, just as you make no apologies for your brand of humor on your blog.

You do what you do. I do what I do. Hopefully, we both are at peace with our choices.

And whenever the factual information and truth is told or released, it is always a good thing. I will not just throw anything out there to refute what the mayor has publicly went on record saying about the Bruner case at City Council. If it is not the truth, you will not hear it coming from me in rebuttal to his remarks nor those of the internal auditor.

The problem I have is when we prove the other side was untruthful, the best we can hope for is silence. Whenever we prove we were right, nobody that defended the other side will stand up and say you lied to us and the community activists were right about what they said about you. They either continue to make silly excuses or they just do not say a word.

But that goes with the territory. The story has legs because if it did not the Ledger-Enquirer would have never followed us doing the same story we had done earlier and have the audacity not to even give the Courier/Eco Latino credit for breaking the story. After all, it was the Courier former Recorder's Court Judge William "Bill" Wright held up before City Council on July 13th. Not even you withhold credit from other media sources, Richard. At least, I do not think you do.

Be well and be blessed,

Brother Love, Director

Grassroots Unity Movement for Change

Let the record show we named The Courier here 7 Jul, in our first mention of the Columbus Fire/EMS audit. But really now - have you ever seen a Columbus TV station give another station credit for breaking a big story? I'm a bit surprised during winter when WRBL shows a temperature of 38 degrees.

The latest news involving Columbus city audits comes from the City Manager's office. Isaiah Hugley ordered suspended Parks Department Director Tony Adams to stop coaching the Georgia Blazers basketball team. Considering that team reached the semifinal round in Orlando, Adams now knows what Mike Brown went through in Cleveland.

But the attorneys for Tony Adams say Isaiah Hugley has no power to dictate who coaches the Georgia Blazers. They contend Adams and the team went to the AAU tournament in Orlando with private funding, not city money. We may need to go to the videotape replay, and see what logo was on Adams's shirts.

By the way, did you see former Columbus Mayor Frank Martin on WTVM? He said the next mayor should have "healthy skepticism." Now wait a minute here! That's why Jim Wetherington asked for the Parks and Recreation audit, and look what's happened since....

So much for the "city of black and white" - as we're moving on to other weekend news:

+ The Saturday high temperature in Columbus was 103 degrees F. - so hot that WXTX showed an empty playground at Lakebottom Park. Some parents missed a golden opportunity here. If the city hasn't posted warning signs about the slides being hot, a liability lawsuit could be one burn away.

(I hope Chris Chaos is happy with Saturday's weather. I read a comment online that he was rooting for a 103-degree day, to match "Rock 103" where he works.)

+ A small fire broke out in the roof of the Lowe's store on Veterans Parkway. Investigators aren't sure how it started - but if you want to save money, Lowe's could be offering discounts on "slightly used" fire extinguishers.

+ Fire also damaged the Veggies to Go restaurant in Opelika. Authorities admitted foul play could be involved - and after seeing the breakfast menu offering ham and sausage biscuits, you can understand why some vegans would be upset.

+ Beaches along the Alabama coast were opened for swimming, for the first time since the big oil spill. Some people are wondering where all those millions of gallons of oil went. Did anyone check the Gulf of Mexico for submarines from Cuba or Venezuela?

+ Columbus Northern topped Toccoa 11-4, to win the Georgia Little League baseball title. Northern's next stop is the Southeast regional tournament in Warner Robins - where for a change, Governor Sonny Perdue actually might root for something involving Columbus.

+ ESPN announced the Clemson-Auburn football game in September will be televised in 3-D. I'm putting the "over and under" for this game at 6,000 - as in how many fans in the stands will wear those funny glasses.

+ Instant Message to the staff at South Columbus Branch Library: Thank you for sharing a very helpful tip. During this heat wave, do NOT leave a can of biscuits in your car seat.

The Blog of Columbus had nearly 25,000 unique visitors in the first half of 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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