Friday, September 30, 2016

Local Pastor Wants More Internet Censorship


When you hear that a local parent wants more Internet censorship in schools, you can bet dollars to doughnuts that somewhere there's fundamentalist religion lurking behind as a driving force.

Take a look at this website, which claims it wants to "keep Waterloo region schools safe". Click on "who we are", and you get "We are parents who would like WRDSB to use Internet technology more responsibly." But who's behind it?

You probably wouldn't know unless you read the local paper, because there doesn't seem to be any information on the group's own website. But in the Record you learn that the group is really Jacob Reaume, a "pastor and father". That's this guy, pastor at the "Harvest Bible Chapel" and educated (big surprise!) at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

The good pastor wants to censor Youtube in schools. But what's missing is any actual evidence that Youtube poses any threat to the safety of Waterloo Region students.

It's a shame that fundamentalists are not content with controlling the education of their own children. They want to control the way everyone else's children are educated, too.

16 comments:

lukebarnes said...

Borderline paranoia.

They are asking the Board to uphold an existing policy. They are not proposing their own, new standards. The website says nothing at all about YouTube. There is a host of research about the harmful effects of pornography on children (e.g. aifs.gov.au/cfca/2016/05/04/children-and-young-peoples-exposure-pornography).

Every primary school on the planet has internet filters. What sort of irresponsible school would allow unsupervised, unfiltered access to the internet for kids of all ages? Exactly which websites were you interested in showing the seven year olds? Pornography? Racism? Obscenity? Chat with online predators?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

If you comment, you should really read the links to avoid looking foolish. Especially when you live on a continent 10,000 miles away with no knowledge of the local climate here.

The Record article I linked to makes it completely clear that Youtube is the target.

No local school allows "unsupervised, unfiltered access to the internet for kids of all ages".

The evidence of actual harm to children because of porn is dramatically overstated by fundamentalists. The truth is a lot less scary.

I had a higher opinion of you before this, Luke.

Lee Witt said...

This pops up here in West Michigan every now and then (but then, the region is largely conservative, with high concentrations of Dutch Reformed groups). The reasons given are strikingly similar to the petition. I wonder if there is some central site these
folks fetch their fear-mongering terms from.

I also wonder how Rev. Reaume's children stumbled on the items they did AND whether they were actually as inappropriate as he states. Some of the items he gave in his complaint require a little searching to locate.

lukebarnes said...

I stand by my comment that it is pornographic, racist and obscene content that is the subject of the *petition*. It is only a call to censor Youtube in so far as it shows that type of content. YouTube doesn't automatically get a free pass - its filters are very good, but schools should carefully consider whether they are enough. Calls to restrict Youtube are not automatically censorship.

I quoted the Australian government, not fundamentalists. I doubt that the Canadian situation is significantly different.

I just don't see how a call to consider what internet material is available to school children is necessary fundamentalist censorship. It just seems like parenting to me.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I don't think you know the definition of the word "censorship". When public schools -- an arm of the government -- prevent students from accessing content, that is censorship. We can argue about whether it's justified or not, but if you can't even admit that, we won't get far.

I didn't say you quoted fundamentalists. I produced another point of view that largely takes issue with your source.

As for parenting, if you want your kids to only have pablum, it's fine with me. Just don't force my kids to eat the same diet.

Lee Witt said...

"I stand by my comment that it is pornographic, racist and obscene content that is the subject of the *petition*. It is only a call to censor Youtube in so far as it shows that type of content."

You can't really just stumble across "porn" on Youtube without having a very broad definition of the word. You can find what would qualify, but you need to look - which is what makes me wonder what his (the man behind the petition) children saw and how they got to it.

If you have a subgroup of children seeking stuff like that at a school, the intelligent response is to deal with them, not commit a system-wide restriction of a resource.

William Spearshake said...

I suspect that he is more concerned with criticisms of Christianity on YouTube, which you can find, rather than pornography, which is almost impossible to find.

He probably takes his lead from religious nut-jobs like Charles McVety, who has a very strange concept of censorship. When he wants to to spout lies on his TV show and is prevented by his broadcaster, he calls it censorship. When he wants to prevent public funding of movies that he disagrees with, it is not censorship.

lukebarnes said...

Can I send this around as a press-release?

(Not really, of course. I'm wondering whether I've understood you.)

Waterloo Academic Slams School Internet Filters
Professor Shallit, of the School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, has slammed the use of internet filters at public schools. "They are an arm of the government", says Prof. Shallit, "so anything that prevents students from accessing content is censorship." Since the government must not sensor freedom of expression, Shallit called for the immediate removal of all filters. Seven-year old students will grow up on a diet of intellectual pablum if they aren't routinely exposed to violent and degrading pornography, racist propaganda, obscenity, and unfettered interaction in chat rooms with cyber-predators, Shallit said. How can kids understand modern issues of gender inequality if they can't freely search the internet for a video of a woman being brutally beaten and raped?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I think you're becoming completely unhinged. We're talking about Youtube. The last time I looked, none of those things were there.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Also, it's rather dishonest for you to say "Since the government must not sensor [sic] freedom of expression" when I just said above that "We can argue about whether it's justified or not".

Lee Witt said...

Lukebarnes, all children need to do to learn about rape, invest, and other horrors, is read the Christian Bible. I suggest you direct your ire there.

lukebarnes said...

OK, let's focus in again. In the article in The Record, Reaume says:

"There's so much on YouTube that is helpful," he said. "But unfortunately, like anything on the Internet, there's so much that is dangerous. Let's figure out a way to restrict access to the inappropriate content on YouTube."

1. Do you have a problem with that statement?

The Section 2.1 of WRDSB Administrative Policy 4080 reads, "The Board's first responsibility in this area is to provide filtering protection which will restrict access to material that has no educational value or is inappropriate, such as material deemed to be racist, pornographic, dangerous, or obscene."

2. Do you have a problem with that policy?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

You're really obsessed with this, aren't you? Very bizarre, since none of this concerns you. You live 10,000 miles away.

1. Yes, I have a problem with that statement. Youtube is vast and it's pretty much impossible for one school board to police it. Filtering tools have proven over and over again to be far too broad, censoring out valuable content. You can bet the simplest solution is just to remove all Youtube access, and will be a likely consideration.

2. Yes, I have a problem with that. Whenever untrained people are in charge of deciding what "is inappropriate", bad decisions are likely to be made. Just google for stories about web censorship in schools; there are literally dozens of examples. For example, suppose students are studying Nazi Germany. Are you really saying they should not be able to read "Mein Kampf"?

William Spearshake said...

The problem with what Lukebarnes is arguing for is, who decides what is appropriate? What is offensive? What is pornographic? Maybe Luke can answer the following:

1) should a video of two people kissing be filtered out?

2) should a video of two men kissing be filtered out?

3) should a video criticizing homosexuality be filtered out?

4) should a video criticizing the the church's stance on homosexuality be filtered out?

5) should videos talking about accessing abortion services be filtered out?

6) should videos of Pride parades be filtered out?

7) should videos of a neo-Nazi rally be filtered out?

Bert Brouwer said...

Personally I wouldn't mind if they filtered out horror movies like Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" or the Teletubbies (except for scenes with Noo-noo).

William Spearshake said...

"Personally I wouldn't mind if they filtered out horror movies like Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" or the Teletubbies (except for scenes with Noo-noo)."

Or had every search for christian subjects redirected to excerpts of Monty Python's Life of Brian.