This weekend, we ran a newsbox for Friendly Hostility which featured two men kissing (or, debately, very close to kissing). Another Keenspotter, who objected to the content running on their site, subsequently removed the newsbox. Since then, we've been flooded with emails from outraged readers. From the emails we received, it appears there is a great deal of confusion regarding Keenspot policies surrounding the newsbox, so I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify the points that have been brought up and answer some questions, here in a public forum.
First, I need to say that Keenspot does not support the opinion that the newsbox was in any way "offensive." We also do not condone censorship at Keenspot.
However, we heartily respect the First Amendment rights of Keenspotters to have control over the content that appears on their pages, whether we agree with their censorship or not. We are under contractual obligations to the Keenspotters as much as they are to us.
Under contract, Keenspotters must post certain elements on their pages, including the newsbox. However, we also have agreed to give each Keenspotter the right to object to materials in upcoming newsboxes and request that a "G Rated" newsbox be provided.
This terminology has caused some confusion. We call it the "G Rated" newsbox, but the Keenspot management has not created guidelines for what constitutes a "G" rating. Instead, we allow Keenspotters to voice objections on a case by case basis. This is the most accurate way of ensuring the intended goal: that Keenspotters have control over the imagery that appears on their page. It should probably be called the "non-controversial" newsbox instead of "G."
Because of this Keenspotter right, we require that newsbox materials be submitted at least two days before they are to run if they have anything that might be deemed in any potential way as controversial, to give other Keenspotters the chance to review. Sandra was not aware of this policy (our fault), and therefore other Keenspotters had no opportunity to review the newsbox. When the concerned Keenspotter removed the newsbox from their webpage, it was after an objection and after which no alternative newsbox had been provided.
Therefore, again, while we don't support the objection itself, it has always been Keenspot policy to allow the objection. Removal of the newsbox was therefore supported by us, as we did not provide an alternate newsbox after the objection was made.
Now, to address some specific comments:
- "Isn't it a violation of contract to remove the Keenspot newsbox?"
No, because our contract also gives Keenspotters the right to preview each newsbox and request an alternate. We did not provide the alternate, even after considerable notice was given. (My bad: I forgot the newsbox was running for two days over the weekend).
- "I've seen 'racier' images in past newsboxes."
True, in our opinions, but no Keenspotter objected to them.
I won't be responding to arguements that the image was appropriate or not, because I agree with them.
The point of the "G" newsbox is not to censor what the Keenspot Owners feel is "inappropriate," but rather to allow each Keenspotter individual control. If there are no objections, then no "G" newsbox is required.
- "The Keenspotter who removed the image is a bigot!"
I would have to respond, "not likely." Instead, they have chosen to control their page content to not feature anything controversial to anyone. It may be argued that this policy supports bigotry, but does not necessarily indicate bigotry on the part of the concerned Keenspotter (who is not the only one).
- "Is bigotry supported by Keenspot?"
No, we support the image and do not support the reasons given for removing it. However, we support our respect for the Keenspotters' rights and our prior agreements with them as well.
Personally, I found the image disgusting, but that's only because I don't like to see anyone kissing.
- "Did Keenspot pull the newsbox because of the complaint?"
No, Keenspot did not pull the newsbox.
On a personal note, I just want to say that while it's hard to enjoy so much mail from angry readers, I felt really good that so many of you should feel so passionate about a subject that, according to most polls I see about America, is not widely supported. I live just across the bridge from "Gavin Newson's Hitching Post" and it has killed my spirit to hear so much gay bashing that has come lately across every other part of the country (and a little bit here as well). Please continue fighting this cause as strongly as you fought towards us. Thank you.
EDIT (March 16, 2005): If some of the following discussion seems disjointed, it's because this topic was split in two. Off-topic posts were moved to a separate topic to allow me to monitor and answer any questions on our actual newsbox policy without having to read a pointless flamewar). Some responses here may reference messages that were moved. Apologies for any confusion.