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Another Wingnut Freakout Debunked

Late last week there were reports that military computers had blocked access to the website of the Southern Baptist Convention and, predictably, the wingnuts flew into a tizzy. Right Wing Watch has a rundown of the almost instantaneous declarations of grand conspiracies and oppression:

“What we are seeing here, I want to be very clear here, we are seeing under the Obama administration a Christian cleansing underway in the United States military,” Fox News’ Starnes maintained.

David Limbaugh accused the military of acting like a “thought police” who “selectively suppress[es] First Amendment freedoms” that “our armed forces are charged to protect,” and the SBC’s top ethicist Richard Land said it was an “outrageous” move and the person who blocked the website “needs to be fired.”

The American Family Association called the incident an example of the military’s “hostility towards faith and religious freedom” and its spokesman Bryan Fischer claimed it was part of an Islamist-secularist conspiracy to classify the entire denomination as a “hate group that spews nothing but ‘hostile content.’”

The Southern Baptist Convention itself, on the other hand, remained reasonable and actually helped fix the situation, which was all due to a routine scan showing a potential vulnerability on their website. It was even reported in the Baptist Press:

Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a Defense Department spokesman, said the military’s software filters detected malware at SBC.net and blocked the website. The malware since has been removed off the website, and the denomination’s website unblocked, he said.

“The Department of Defense is not intentionally blocking access to this site,” Pickart told The Tennessean in an email. “The Department of Defense strongly supports the religious rights of service members, to include their ability to access religious websites like that of the SBC.”…

Some Christians focused on the phrase “hostile content” and wondered whether the denomination’s traditional positions on abortion, gay marriage and the Bible were the reason the military was blocking the site.

Chris Chapman, the SBC Executive Committee’s director of information systems, said SBC.net — like the websites of many other organizations — is a target for hackers. He also said the military’s filters are at an “optimum level” in blocking content, not simply “recognizing invading viruses” but also blocking anything that possibly could be harmful.

“This most recent challenge fits into that latter category, and has been dealt with satisfactorily,” Chapman said. “Unfortunately, SBC.net has joined the ranks of other major organizations that are targets for hackers, detractors and activists. Those engaged in destructive creativity will exploit the continuing development of new technologies to cause new harm and threats of harm continually, so this latest challenge is, for us, just another one of the sort we deal with every day. The fact that it ‘made the news’ was certainly a distinguishing feature, but the attempted attack was not all that unusual.”…

Early Thursday, Roger S. Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations for the SBC’s Executive Committee, expressed caution against jumping to conclusions.

“Though there have been several instances recently in which evangelical Christians have been marginalized by the broader culture, we think that a rush to judgment that the United States Military has targeted the Southern Baptist Convention as a hostile religious group would be premature,” Oldham said at the time.

Chapman also explained that the phrase “hostile content” has nothing to do with the ideas expressed:

“The recent situation impeding access to our website for some was aggravated by a misunderstanding of a term familiar to those in the information technology field. That term is ‘hostile content.’ To technical administrators, it simply means some sort of vulnerability or virus. It might not even be an actively harmful element, but simply an exploitable or potentially exploitable condition. We now live in an age where defending against or removing ‘hostile content’ is a daily undertaking, especially for any organization that maintains multiple Internet servers.

So Starnes, Limbaugh, Fischer and the other “thought” leaders who freaked out about this will be retracting their hysterical overreaction and explaining that nothing they said was actually true, right? Right? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Comments

  1. says

    The Southern Baptists certainly have “hostile content” in the sense Starnes, Limbaugh, Fischer, et al. were thinking of it. It and many, if not most, of its membership are hostile to the rights and freedoms the Constitution guarantees, which the military is sworn to protect. That the wingnuts are ignorant of computers and the associated terminology is hardly surprising, since it goes right along with their ignorance of most of reality.

  2. Trebuchet says

    Unfortunately, the incident but not the explanation will be added to the wingnut canon of how the evil Obama administration is out to get them.

  3. says

    What was the basis of blocking Southern Baptists? Hate group?*

    As someone indoctrinated early into the SOB church, I can testify that much of the denomination is crazy with racist jackasses. Also jackasses who are not racist.

  4. badgersdaughter says

    “…a rush to judgment that the United States Military has targeted the Southern Baptist Convention as a hostile religious group would be premature…”

    Not “inappropriate”. Though I knew what he meant. :)

  5. shallit says

    the SBC’s top ethicist Richard Land

    I spit out my coffee when I read that part, and I wasn’t even drinking coffee.

  6. says

    Pffft. All this shows is that Obama’s goons got to the SBC’s spokesman and forced him to recite the prepared propaganda, to cover Hussein Obama’s plot to destroy Christians!

  7. dmcclean says

    @fifthdentist, #4
    You’re missing the point. The purpose of the block was to protect people from viruses and malware that had infiltrated the Southern Baptist’s web page. It had nothing to do with “blocking Southern Baptists” for any reason.

  8. dugglebogey says

    They don’t even couch their statements by saying “if it’s true.” They don’t need it to be true. They want it to be true. To continue their business model, they NEED it to be true.

    Honesty is totally irrelevant to these people.

  9. thumper1990 says

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAH! Oh, fuck me, that is hilarious! A simple IT term sent their victim complex into overdrive!

    The American Family Association called the incident an example of the military’s “hostility towards faith and religious freedom”

    PfffffBWAhahahaha! I’m not even American and I know that’s bollocks!

  10. raven says

    Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a Defense Department spokesman, said the military’s software filters detected malware at SBC.net and blocked the website.

    This is typical.

    Xians sites tend to be infested with malware and viruses.

    I noticed this a long time ago and generally avoid them on this basis.

    It turns out that this is correct. A recent study showed that you are more likely to run into malware on a xian site than a porn site. Not sure why this is but it could be due to the general cognitive malfunctioning of the religious.

  11. Synfandel says

    …we think that a rush to judgment that the United States Military has targeted the Southern Baptist Convention as a hostile religious group would be premature.

    Yes, we shouldn’t rush to judgment yet. We should rush to judgment later.

  12. abb3w says

    @11, raven:

    A recent study

    Specifically, it looks to have been Symantec’s “Internet Security Threat Report” for 2012, released about a year ago.

    @11, raven:

    Not sure why this is but it could be due to the general cognitive malfunctioning of the religious.

    I suspect it’s more because most porn sites are in the business of making money. If they get hacked, their credit card processor may tend to drop them (and certainly customers may); thus, they spend a bit more effort on security.

  13. raven says

    ..Religious websites contain more malware than porn sites

    By Dan Graziano | BGR News – Thu, May 3, 2012……
    ..
    People who browse religious websites are more likely to have their computers infected with a virus than those who visit pornographic websites, according to Symantec’s annual “Internet Security Threat Report.”

    The firm found that websites with religious or ideological themes had triple the average number of threats than those featuring adult content. “It is interesting to note that websites hosting adult/pornographic content are not in the top five, but ranked tenth,” Symantec said. “We hypothesize that this is because pornographic website owners already make money from the Internet and, as a result, have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware-free; it’s not good for repeat business.” The report was based on information gathered from more than 200 countries through the Symantec Global Intelligence Network. Symantec blocked a total of 5.5 billion attacks last year, an 81% increase from 2010.

    Just a heads up.

  14. chilidog99 says

    In other words, you’re more likely to catch the clap from the preachers wife then from a hooker.

  15. says

    @ chilidog 16 and 17:
    Not necessarily a fail. You can get 2 DIFFERENT strains of clap. 1st from the preacher’s wife, THEN from the hooker! Win/win!!

  16. ArtK says

    It turns out that this is correct. A recent study showed that you are more likely to run into malware on a xian site than a porn site. Not sure why this is but it could be due to the general cognitive malfunctioning of the religious.

    That’s because they’re using JeebusWare to protect their sites. A half-hour of fervent prayer every morning is required to get it started. The infections are happening because their faith is not really as strong as it should be. Isn’t that why bad things happen to people — a lack of faith?

  17. says

    Hilarious. As someone who has setup and administered many web filters, this is very standard. Shit, I was working for a company that had it’s OWN website compromised (it was hosted offsite, out of my hands) and my web filter blocked it. We didn’t know it had been compromised until we started to get blocked.

    Also, the “category” for the block is usually so general that it doesn’t really tell the end user why. I usually turn off showing why a site was blocked, as it usually adds confusion. Often times sites get blocked for multiple reasons, but only one is going to show (such as a pornography site being blocked due to detected malware). In my setups, usually malware is the reason for blocking (largely because we are only filtering for that and pornography).

    On top of that, false positives happen, and they happen all the time. So, when a user gets a false positive, they tell their friendly IT department, who once they clear the site, add to the whitelist.

  18. =8)-DX says

    “Though there have been several instances recently in which evangelical Christians have been marginalized by the broader culture of evangelical and other Christians.” FTFY

  19. blf says

    Definitely snicker(as in HA HA HAH!)-worthy.
    Another instance of an accidental block happened internally at the company I work for, where our e-mailing lists were suddenly effectively “blocked”. Not due to malware, as it turned out, but a router going berserk and causing too many delivery failures. And of course, Murphy’s / Sod’s Law applied, it was at a critical time when we were using one of the mailing-lists intensively.

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