Controversy is flaring up at a Connecticut high school after a student alleged that its internet filter is biased against conservative websites.
Andrew Lampart, a senior at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, told a local Fox station that he was conducting research for an in-class debate on gun control when he discovered that many pro-gun sites, such as National Rifle Association’s homepage, were blocked by the school’s filter. Meanwhile, anti-gun sites remained easily accessible, he said.
Lampart says he then expanded his search and found additional red flags. The state Republican Party’s website was blocked, but not the state Democratic Party’s. Pro-life groups like the National Right to Life were blocked, but not Planned Parenthood or NARAL Pro-Choice America. Even Christianity.com and the Vatican’s homepage fell on the wrong side of the digital barrier, though islam-guide.org and al-islam.org, both top Google search results for “Islam,” went unscathed. Each of the blocked sites was struck down by the schools SonicWall filter which labeled them as impermissible “Political/Advocacy Groups” sites.
In a letter to the Woodbury Board of Education, Lampart said that he approached local superintendent Jody Goeler, who told him that some political sites needed to be blocked to prevent “hate speech” from seeping into the school. Lampart approached the school board, he said, after no action appeared to have been taken to allow more sites.
The hate speech justification has left some incensed. Bill Donohue, who heads the Catholic League, a national anti-defamation group, sent a letter of protest to the school on Wednesday.
“It is alleged that you support censoring students at Nonnewaug High School from accessing the Vatican’s website on the grounds that it promotes ‘hate speech.’ Would you please identify examples of ‘hate speech’ found on the Vatican’s website?” Donohue asked.
John Chapman, the president of the Woodbury school board, told a local news station that Lampart’s claims warrant “further investigation.”
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