The sordid tale of how I was censored by Straight Pride UK

Straight-Pride

A few weeks ago, when thinking of interesting things I could write for this blog, I remembered a weird organisation that gathered some attention on the internet a month or two ago.

The organisation is called Straight Pride UK. It’s a strange group which believes that the tide of Gay rights has gone too far, and that now heterosexuals have become the oppressed minority. Essentially their philosophy  is spun from the same reactionary cloth as “Men’s Rights activists”  –  the notion that, having essentially run Western society for most its existence, progressive demands that Christian white straight males share some of their total grasp on power is somehow a removal of their rights.

Anyway, I wrote to Straight Pride asking that they answer some questions. Stipulating that I was “a freelance journalist”, I sent them some questions, about what they do and what they believe.

About a week later they responded with an attached document with the title “press release”. I went through the questions, corrected the horrendous grammar, and organised it so it coherently answered the questions I’d posed. I also noted that two rather pointed questions I’d asked, regarding the problem of the bullying of LGBTI youth and the nature of other “pride” movements, had not been answered. I sent them an email about this, saying that I’d give them the opportunity to respond but, if they didn’t, I’d “make it clear in the article” that they avoided the questions. They didn’t get back to me for 2 days, which I thought ample time to write two sentences.

Fully satisfied that my journalism had made them look like the arses they are, I hit the publish button, and sat back, feeling all together really pleased with myself. I called the article “It’s great to be straight… yeah”, too, which I thought acutely summed up their philosophy and referenced a mid-90s dance album I rather like.

The article gained a lot of traction, too. A friend and I put it on Reddit, and I got thousands of hits. In my short career of attempting to become a respectable journalist, it was one of the most successful things I’d done.

Then came the email from Straight Pride UK’s press officer, Nick Steiner:

“It has been brought to my attention that you have published the email that I sent you to, you did not state this in your email request, nor you did have consent to do this.

I therefore request that you take down the article that you have placed on your blog.

You have 7 days in which to do this, failing this I shall submit a DMCA to WordPress to have it removed.”

I laughed this off, and responded to the email arguing their case was absurd:

1) There was no indication on the “press release” they sent me that it was copyrighted material. Nor did they make any mention of the fact that anything they gave me was copyrighted.

2) I wrote “I’m a journalist and I’d like to ask you some questions” in my first email. If you’re a press officer and you don’t know what this means, then you really aren’t qualified to have your job.

3) In my email about the questions they didn’t answer, I made reference to “the article”. If that isn’t an indication that I’m going to publish something then I really don’t what is.

I thought this was a good enough defence, and I assumed this would all be swept under the carpet, and that their rather sad attempts to remove my article because it made them look stupid were all for naught.

I was wrong – within a few days WordPress caved to them without question, removing my article and telling me if I tried to publish it again I’d be suspended, but that I could challenge the takedown of my article. I responded that yes, I very much would like to, and was emailed a form I’d have to fill in. One of the requirements was that I “consent to local federal court jurisdiction, or if overseas, to an appropriate judicial body”.

I’m a student. I don’t have the money, time, or patience to go through with potentially having to go to court over this. All in all, I just could not be bothered to challenge the decision.

So I accepted the takedown, feeling thoroughly shit about myself.

Then I get another email from Straight Pride UK, which pissed me off even more. They demanded I take down the material (which I had) but also that I:

“…remove all references to Straight Pride UK, The Straight Forward Project, along with images, and links, from your Blog.”

Ok.

So not content with forcing me to eat a shit sandwich on dubious grounds by making me take down my work, they now demand that I never write anything about them again. Are these people kidding? Who the hell do they think they are that they can simply demand that I not write about them again, in an email with the pointedly sinister name of their solicitors at the bottom?

This, for me, was the final straw, and why I decided to write this article.

Because I find it absurd that this silly little group can simply demand that remove all my references to them because it makes them look bad. What are they afraid of? Their views make them look stupid enough, why the need to so aggressively bully and harass me? Why do they care so much?

And are they so cowardly that an article criticising them is enough to attempt to pursue a tenuous legal case against the author?

It really boggles the mind.

Update: Having published this article this morning, Straight Pride responded with their usual response to criticism, tweeting:

and hilariously describing me as “not a official journalist” (whatever that means):

But it was too late for Straight Pride UK. My article prompted an incredible storm on Twitter, with some even tracking down my original article in web archives and publishing it. My article got hundreds of retweets and reblogs, and any attempts by Straight Pride UK to take it down now will accomplish nothing.

The internet really can be amazing, and I want to thank everybody for their support and good will.

Keep up the good fight everyone!

176 comments
  1. well, just because it is great to be straight, doesn’t mean it is great to be a fathead. full support from straights who choose not be be fatheads 😉

  2. Good grief, these idgits act just like the Church of Scientology does when they attack their critics and try to censor free speech on the internet.

    • BillTed said:

      “Good grief, these idgits act just like the Church of Scientology does when they attack their critics and try to censor free speech on the internet.”

      Surely you’re referring to teh ghey agenda and its hypocrite lib handlers?

      Its just as easy to get kicked off a lib website for not agreeing with them as a conservative one.
      Maybe easier.

  3. Censorship, at any level, is dangerous; once it gains a foothold there is no controlling its path or reach. There are many things published that I abhor from people I would prefer to see disappear, (is that an oxymoron?), but I believe their right to free speech is imperative.

  4. Why don’t you, as a truly independent journalist, move your blog to a wordpress installation on a server you control on your own terms, in a country within the EU? On your own domain? Much better, and you can forget this kind of nonsense.

    • Unfortunately, that may not help as even self-hosted WordPress sites can fall foul of the WordPress zealots who seem only to happy to implement reactionary policies.

  5. jatimlex said:

    One of the things about freedom of speech or the freedom of the press is for me this: If the article doesn’t defame an individual or people group, but cites facts no matter of the repercussions than that speech must be protected at all costs, however when the reporter, journalist adds there own diatribe then that speech has become a personal vendetta and therefore must be censored. Even if I don’t like an article if its true unbiased I’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with the individual/organization to publish it. In the case of the aforementioned article I think that Straight Pride UK might need to be sent a box of pacifiers.

  6. Max said:

    Cheers! You should check out the seo/social activism project ‘English Disco Lovers’ created to raise awareness and displace the English Defense League from search results for “edl” … They’re @ edl.me

    Aloha❤

  7. Fancy forwarding your article to me? I’ll publish it and I’m on WordPress too. It’s time that we challenged this fascistic ‘law’ that allows people without ANY basic in fact to censor writers!

  8. spacecadet said:

    Someone who intends to be a professional journalist should spend a bit of time boning up on English copyright law.
    Had you done so you would have known that any literary work is automatically protected by copyright and you can’t claim that you didn’t know that the press release was copyright (not ‘copyrighted’- that concept doesn’t exist as no formalities, such as registration, are required for protection).
    DMCA of course has no real legal relevance in England.

    • AJHall said:

      Before shooting off your mouth about copyright, try looked at the concept of “fair dealing for the purposes of …reporting current events” (s.30(2) and also the concept of “implied licence”. Any news organisation sent an item marked “press release” is at least making a reasonable assumption that they have a licence to make use of it for the ordinary purposes for which press releases are made use of. Once the person sending the press release starts behaving in a completely absurd way to control its use, and make threats to back it up, the interest in reporting under the fair dealing exception becomes even stronger.

      • You are correct, but that’s all reasons he can use the email _despite_ it being copyrighted. Point 1 of the argument in the blog entry says “There was no indication on the “press release” they sent me that it was copyrighted material. Nor did they make any mention of the fact that anything they gave me was copyrighted.”

        …implying the author thinks it wasn’t copyrighted, when it is. So I think the criticism is fair enough.

      • AJHall said:

        I agree that the OP’s reasons for believing he was entitled to use the material were not strictly correct; however, the practical outcome – that copyright law permitted his acts – is in line with his beliefs and at 90% from the understanding Straight Pride UK had of copyright and what it allowed them to stop.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: