You are here: Wild Ideas > Calyx > Library >
The Nasty Side of the Net
Internet hate sites range from saccharine to scary
Copyright 1997 by Lynna Landstreet. This column
originally appeared in Xtra
magazine. Published by Pink Triangle Press, 491 Church Street, 2nd Floor,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 2C6.
while ago, I wrote a pair of columns on sites and issues of queer relevance
on the Internet. The first was a
whirlwind tour of sites of interest to queer web surfers, while the
second dealt with the various attempts
at Internet censorship that might threaten our right to access these
This issue, I'd like to deal with the third side of the triangle: those
Internet sites that might constitute an argument in favour of
censorship. Cyberspace isn't all queer-positive by any means; there
are a plethora of anti-gay resources out there, as well as sites devoted
to just about every other form of hatred and intolerance. They run the
gamut from nice, politely worded fundamentalist pages offering "healing"
to unhappy queers, to flat-out violent hate sites.
The former are easier to find, partly because many Internet providers
have policies that prohibit content that openly encourages hatred and
intolerance, and partly because the more extreme sites and discussion
groups can't afford to be too open for fear of being subjected to that
particular form of Internet frontier justice known as mailbombing.
A lot of the most blatant, and often incoherent, expressions of homophobia
and racism, are found in Usenet newsgroups rather than web sites, because
newsgroups are open to postings from anyone. This is particularly true
of those groups located in the .alt hierarchy, established as an alternative
to the main body of Usenet where any new newsgroup has to go through
a lengthy approval process. Anyone can start an .alt group, which is
both a blessing and a curse. The alt.flame area (flame being net slang
for an abusive or insulting message) contained at last count 73 newsgroups,
including the likes of alt.flame.niggers and alt.flame.fucking.faggots.
Web sites by and large tend to be more reserved, partly due to the policies
mentioned earlier, and partly because the rigours of writing HTML tend
to defeat the worst Neanderthals. But there are still plenty of anti-gay,
racist, sexist and otherwise unpleasant sites out there. A good example
of the candy-coated hate site is the Christianity
and Homosexuality Home Page, hosted by Gene Chase of Exodus
International, an organization for "ex-gays". It contains
a ton of saccharine Jesus-loves-you-even-though-you're-queer articles,
drippy testimonials from "healed" gays, and a section on "apologetics"
-- answers to the most frequent objections to the ex-gay party line.
Most of the big right-wing fundamentalist organizations are on the web
now, like the American
Family Organization and the Family
Research Council, where you can find out, among other things,
how "virtually every aspect of [US] government" is pushing
"the homosexual agenda" -- hey, we're doing better than I
thought! Pat Robertson's Christian
Coalition has a web site too, although for some reason my system
seems to crash every time I try to access it (maybe my computer has
better taste than I give it credit for). There's even a compendium of
such sites called The
Right Side of the Web.
Among the loonier -- and scarier -- of the Christian sites is Media
House International, publishers of several fundamentalist magazines.
They have a large archive of articles which include such gems as a series
on how the abortion industry is run by Wiccans who require all those
fetuses for human sacrifices.
And the violent ultra-right is out there too. The popular Internet search
lists 17 sites under the heading of "Skinheads" and 34 under
"White Power". These include the so-called "Freedom
Site", based right here in Toronto, which hosts the neo-Nazi
Heritage Front's web page and other similar trash, and the bluntly --
and accurately -- named White
Aryan Resistance Hate Site, which is so extreme it almost seems
like a parody, but it's not.
And no, queers don't get off easy. Antipas's Home Page (reincarnated,
some while after this column was published, as www.godhatesfags.com)
lovingly details the exploits of the Westboro Baptist Church whose "peaceful
picketing ministry" includes showing up at the funerals of people
with AIDS with signs saying "God hates fags." And the home
page for STRAIGHT
-- The Society To Remove All Immoral Godless Homosexual Trash
-- pretty much speaks for itself.
The question is: what do we do about Internet hate? A lot of what I
saw researching this column turned my stomach, but it seems a bit hypocritical
to condemn net censorship from one side of your mouth while advocating
it on the other. Can we really say that we should be able to provide
content that the fundies find offensive, but not vice-versa? There isn't
really an easy answer.
I had a hard time deciding whether I should even include the URLs of
these sites, since I didn't particularly want to provide resources for
bigots, but in the end I decided to include them, because I don't think
that any decision, let alone one as difficult as this, can be made without
adequate information. Covering up a problem doesn't make it go away.
The first step toward dealing with hate, on the Net or anywhere else,
is to drag it out into the open so that it can be questioned and confronted
But if you need an antidote after viewing the sites listed above, check
out the following excellent anti-hate web sites: The Ontario
Centre for Religious Tolerance, Hate
on the Net and ARA
All content copyright 1999-2006 by the
individual authors, where cited, or by
where not specifically credited.
Except where otherwise noted, this site is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
Site design: Spider Silk Design - Toronto web designers
This page last modified: January 29, 2006