Kentucky Bans Blogs
The state of Kentucky has banned blogs. Or, at least banned state employees from reading them while at work. Of course, since most people who read blogs do so at work, it amounts to practically the same thing.
State employees will no longer be able to access a political weblog that has criticized Gov. Ernie Fletcher and other Kentucky politicians. The weblog, http://www.bluegrassreport.org, was among Internet sites to which state government recently denied employees access. State officials this week blocked various categories of Web sites, including those dealing with entertainment, online auctions, humor and blogs. But Mark Nickolas, operator of the bluegrassreport site, said he believes his site was targeted for its political content – some of which has been critical of the Fletcher administration. Nickolas has blasted Fletcher and his administration during the ongoing personnel investigation and was quoted this week in a national newspaper criticizing the governor. “It’s outrageous, it shows that we are in the people’s republic of Kentucky now – that government will block political speech that it does not approve of,” Nickolas said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I think it just shows that Gov. Fletcher continues to lead the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Rather than provide us the unvarnished truth, they would rather block state workers from knowing what’s going on.”
However, the sites were blocked following a review that occurred nearly two weeks ago of those most accessed by state government, state Finance Cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said. State officials were not targeting particular sites, but entire categories to prevent inappropriate employee access, and the timing was coincidental, Midkiff said. “It’s not any particular site,” Midkiff said, adding that the total number of sites involved in the recent action was “voluminous.”
I’m sure this decision is aimed at stopping employees from wasting time on the job surfing the ‘net rather than a nefarious attempt to silence a few bloggers. Still, this is a ridiculous decision, for reasons previously discussed.
UPDATE: A trusted source with knowledge of this matter informs me that well-known conservative blogs, including at least one that was not at all critical of Fletcher, were similarly “blocked by the content filtering” as long as two years ago. S/he also notes that Midkiff is the PR person for the Finance and Administration Cabinet, which houses the IT department. As such, it is “exceptionally unlikely that anyone in the Governor’s office even knew about it.”
I’m so used to the “unrepresentative anecdote/story” format used by AP and others that I manage to read past it most of the time without it even registering it. I presumed immediately that this was just the tech department gone hogwild; this adds credence to my suspicion.
UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge wonders if his site is being blocked; he’d understand it it were. At least one commenter (location and employer unknown) reports having all blogspot sites blocked by his employer.
Meanwhile, the Danny Glover who isn’t too old for this confirms that tons of blogs have been banned, including very prominent conservative ones.
Meanwhile, Blue Crab Boulevard is just glad these people are no longer wasting the taxpayers’ money reading blogs. To which I retort: They’re now wasting it on something else. And that’s not a stab at government employees; it’s just the nature of office work.