May 30, 2003


Michael Jennings writes:

You will be pleased to know that your site is blocked by the filters on the public internet terminals in Croydon public library in South London. It gives "Reason: hate speech".

Posted by Tim Blair at May 30, 2003 01:36 PM

It must be my fault -- I seethe with hatred. Sorry Tim!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 30, 2003 at 02:05 PM

More like - blocked by those who hate free speech.

Posted by: The Meatriarchy at May 30, 2003 at 02:36 PM

Has Croydon Library blocked the ABC? Reason: intellectual mediocrity

Posted by: Rodney at May 30, 2003 at 03:28 PM

Maybe they're only blocking Australians. Reason: mate speech.

Posted by: tim at May 30, 2003 at 06:01 PM

By the way there is an article about Poltical Correctness in British libraries here:

It's by Theodore Dalrymple so it is worth reading. You've always been one of my favourite hatemongers anyway.

Posted by: Ross Fitzgibbon at May 30, 2003 at 06:13 PM

"Maybe they're only blocking Australians. Reason: mate speech."

...or perhaps it's a timezone problem. Reason: Late speech.

Posted by: JohnJo at May 30, 2003 at 07:30 PM

Could be something to do with how fantastic I am. Reason: great speech

Posted by: tim at May 30, 2003 at 07:33 PM

The Croydon library is full of displays every bit as politically correct as the Theodore Dalrymple article suggests, although this doesn't prevent it from functioning quite well as a library. It contains a very good collection of books, a lot of public access internet terminals, and staff who are genuinely helpful.

As for the internet filtering software, this is stupid, however. There is a policy that anyone accessing pornographic or violent material will be asked to leave on the basis that other patrons of the library might find it offensive, which is fine. However, the filtering software is excessive and arbitrary, blocks sites belonging to people doing nothing but exercising their rights to free speech (Virginia Postrel is also blocked, so Tim is in good company). As to why the same librarians who would generally object strongly to censorship if it took the form of banning books from the library are perfectly happy to go along with banning large portions of the internet, I don't know.

Posted by: Michael Jennings at May 30, 2003 at 09:31 PM

I'll bet you could access sites like "Electronic Intafada".

Posted by: AndyM at May 30, 2003 at 09:38 PM

It wouldn't look good is they said: "Reason: conservative". So they say it's because of hate speech instead.

Posted by: Tim Shell at May 30, 2003 at 11:44 PM

As a librarian, I'll step up and defend my profession... The odds are that the decision was not made by the librarians, but somebody upstairs. I'm not personally familiar with the library associations in Britain, but the American Library Association has come out against filtering software. (For its troubles, it gets labeled a left-wing group that hates America, but we're used to it.) Whoever decided to put the filters on, I'm pretty sure that the actual decision to block Tim was made by the software provider (probably one person complained) and not the library.

I'll point out that at one time the college I work for had put filtering software up. (They were less worried about content than bandwidth and were using it to keep students from downloading MP3s.) The software blocked several blogs for "guns" and Samizdata for hate speech.

Posted by: Mac Thomason at May 31, 2003 at 01:45 AM

I remember the Croydon library fondly from my time there in 1994 (I'm an American). It is a very, very nice library, with a good staff. I do remember the over-the-top politically correct displays, which were very depressing, so I have to say the story doesn't suprise me. The left-wing domination of public services is most depressing and, I think, conservatism's biggest challenge.

And, Max (above), the American Library Association gets labelled a left-wing group that hates America because....because...well, because it's a left-wing group that hates America.

Posted by: KevinV at May 31, 2003 at 06:59 AM

Tim, Tim, Tim. What do you have against speech? What did it ever do to you? Why do you hate it so much, you naughty boy?!

Posted by: Venomous Kate at May 31, 2003 at 03:34 PM

He is secretly working for the Trilats!

Posted by: devils chewtoy at May 31, 2003 at 08:10 PM

Sounds just like something the POMS would do- block a site because it uses naughty words and isn't served with a spot of tea.
Bloody joke- no wonder I live here.

Posted by: Douglas at May 31, 2003 at 08:57 PM

They probably know you are trying to piss them off. reason: bait speech!

Posted by: Yobbo at June 1, 2003 at 02:03 AM

Or Fish blogging = bait speech?

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at June 1, 2003 at 02:18 AM

They have opposable thumbs and electricity in Croydon? Wonders will never cease... next you'll be telling us they have reliable supplies of soap and hot water.

Posted by: Craig Ranapia at June 1, 2003 at 04:20 AM

Or after we ate the fish ... Reason: plate speech

Posted by: tim at June 1, 2003 at 04:53 AM

The reason for the left's domination of public services is mostly because the right refuses to accord them any legitimacy. If the right wants to keep the opinion of the people on their side, they'd better wake up and realize that people don't respect politicians for their big cars and ivory towers, they respect them for the things they do for the people. As long as the people have an outside threat to worry about, the right will be favored, but if either the right fails to keep them safe, or there no longer seems to be a threat (i.e., the right keeps them safe long enough), public opinion will turn back to the side that gave them better domestic policies, and it looks like that's going to be the left.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at June 1, 2003 at 11:23 PM

Typical of labor party controlled councils. To amuse, Spectator carried reports of such councils throwing out truckloads of councils' libraries copies of the canon of English literature and other first rate works. Why: because they discriminated against minorities.
Margaret Thatcher was overthrown too too soon. Another term and she would have ahd those havens for communistos thoroughly gutted. Come to that, quite a few councils in Australia are in need of a good gutting.

Posted by: d at June 2, 2003 at 11:17 AM