Short Run-in with Censorship

While interning (in California), I received the following e-mail from the chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department (in Florida) via the department secretary:

This was an unexpected surprise since the only thing on my Electrical Engineering Page was a link to my 'real' homepage on the Computer Science Department's server. The e-mail only proved that the author understood neither how links work nor where pages physically exist. Furthermore, the "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" story had been on-line for over a year and the EE Purity Test had existed about six months, both sans complaint. The heart of the problem, I suspected, was that the people involved were new to the WWW and ran across my page rather soon in their journey. Compared to enrollment demographics or other such administrivia, my page resembled an affront to all that is good and pure.

Feeling strongly in the right, I replied smugly (and immediately):

Although I figured everything was cleared up, I received anonymous intelligence suggesting that the wheels were still turning, and I was about to be run over by them (to the tune of expulsion!). I removed the links and sent the following melodramatic mail (take into account that I was 3,000 miles away, so could not just walk in and talk to someone): Some other events occurred relative to this event. . . .UF's Electrical And Computer Engineering Home Page removed the direct link to the "EE Users' Home Pages" in a weak effort to impede access. My oh-so-offensive page story circulated up to the Dean of Engineering, who made an inquiry to the Computer Science Department, who contacted the sponsor of my account. Someone along the path must have informed everyone else up the chain-of-command that my pages were actually quite tame, because I haven't heard a peep about it since.

About a week after writing the final e-mail on the matter, I was struck with the idea of putting the pages behind a Tipper-Gore-inspired "Parental Warning" icon, followed by a disclaimer, so as to save any especially sensitive people from potential harm (and simultaneously cover myself). As unwarranted as I believe the entire ordeal was, I have to concede that the access and servers are provided by the departments involved, so some bowing was in order.

Addition: I happened across the following internal reference (four years later in Dec 1997) from the CISE department's chairman, forwarded to me by a system administrator friend:

Written up a year after the fact (Sun Jul 28 16:50:26 PDT 1996) by Steve Walstra © 1996

Last edited Dec 1997

[Back to the woefully offensive links]