News - January 1996

America Online adds anti-gay "Focus on the Family"

If you're an AOL subscriber and go to keyword DOBSON, you'll find yourself in the brand-new Focus on the Family forum (currently only available to PC users, not yet accessible on the Macintosh).

Once there you'll find all of the same highly-polished anti-gay and anti-female rhetoric you've come to expect from the organization that has made a pastime out of verbal gay-bashing.

"This protest is not about the right of conservative Christians to express themselves," said Azcandra2, an AOL user. "The fact is that there are already two large such forums for fundamentalists online."

What's surprising is that America Online, the nation's foremost online service, is behind this venture -- particularly given the strong gay presence in areas such as the Gay and Lesbian Community Forum (GLCF) and the upcoming Planet Out (PNO).

"Dr. James Dobson (Focus's founder) has said explicitly for more than a year that Focus has been trying to come online to AOL because it cannot stand the thought that AOL's biggest forum is the GLCF," said Azcandra2. "It (Focus) is bringing its members online to harass the GLCF, as you will easily see from comparing the names of the new forum's users to the ones making harassing comments in the GLCF boards and chat rooms."

Since Focus opened its forum, there has been a sudden increase in harassment in the gay forum and People Connection chat rooms including: "You're all gonna die from AIDS" and "You're a bunch of sicko child molesters."

"Coincidence? I think not," said Azcandra2. "And you know it, AOL."

Scott Miller (Chaz64@aol.com) has reported several areas of the Focus site to the AOL Terms of Service people, who regulate online content.

The AOL Terms of Service say that nothing can be posted that is "harmful to individual members" or "damaging to communities which make up the AOL system." It says users cannot use AOL to "cause distress, unwanted attention, or discomfort upon another Member" or "transmit defamatory, hateful, or objectionable content."

Miller has also tried to challenge some of their content in their own discussion board, but his messages seem to get deleted.

"I asked why and was told that those folders aren't to be used to discuss gay issues," Miller said. "My posts were not hostile at all, but did contain questions/ comments on gay issues. So if they don't like my topic, they can just delete my posts arbitrarily? The Religious Right extremists are allowed to post awfully nasty, insulting posts in the gay folders elsewhere on line."

In an attack on the well-respected SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Educational Council of the United States) report on mature teen sex, Focus on the Family attacks homosexuality with what they see as its natural partners: "The history of SIECUS is shady at best, with past and present board members having supported everything from pedophilia, homosexuality and pornography to condoms in schools and abortion on demand."

On the topic of men's roles in the family, you'll find: "One of the greatest threats to the institution of the family today is the undermining of this role as protector and provider. This is the contribution for which men were designed, physically and emotionally. If it is taken away, their commitment to their wives and children is jeopardized." (from Understanding our sexual identity)

Several articles proclaim fundamentalist victories in Supreme Court actions that ruled against issues of lesbigay rights.

The following actions have been suggested to counter this hateful presence on AOL:

General information: Jeff Walsh
Design and HTML: Jase Pittman-Wells
©1996 Oasis. All Rights Reserved.