Friday News Bites: Mostly of the LGBT variety with a side of Net Neutrality

Greetings, Persephoneers! After our winter break and my vacation, we are back with some Friday News Bites, and this time, they’re mostly of the LGBT variety. First though, let’s have two fantastic best friends wish us a Happy New Year…

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart have the best friendship.
(image via Uproxx)

May we long see Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart’s continued adventures, bowler hats and all.

In other news…

The Obama administration will recognize Utah same-sex marriages on a federal level while their legality remains in question on a state level. This will allow couples to do things like file joint tax returns, among other benefits.

Meanwhile, a federal judge has declared Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The change is not immediate, and anti-equality groups will most likely file an appeal, but still, it’s progress.

But for every bit of progress, we have stories like these:

In Ohio, a Catholic school has fired a teacher after he announced his engagement to a man. His story is of course only one of many we’ve heard as marriage equality laws shift in the U.S.

Yet, these job loss stories are still better than what is happening in Nigeria right now:

Yesterday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which criminalizes same-sex marriage and relationships. The law bans same-sex marriage, and openly gay and lesbian Nigerians could face prison sentences of up to 14 years for engaging in same-sex “amorous relationships.” Any person involved in same-sex ceremonies, moreover, including guests, could be jailed for 10 years.

Additionally, any person who supports or registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly, including their sustenance, is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.

The law is particularly harsh because Nigerian law already punishes consensual same-sex activity. Moreover, twelve (out of 36) Nigerian states – which have incorporated Sharia law into the legal system –punish homosexual acts with death sentences.

Now, consider for a moment how you receive your information online. What if your internet service provider wanted to divert your attention away from certain information — be it a rival provider, or just some site’s politics with which they did not agree? This is one of the many reasons why the loss of net neutrality could be a very scary thing.

Barbara Stripling at WIRED also talks about how the loss of net neutrality hurts the poor:

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: The recent ruling striking down network neutrality doesn’t just affect websites and internet service providers — it affects libraries, too.

By striking down the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Open Internet Order this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just gave commercial companies the authority to block internet traffic, give preferential treatment to specific internet services, and steer internet users away from online content based on their own commercial interests. Since the internet is now the primary mechanism for delivering content and applications to the general public, it’s more important than ever that commercial ISPs not have that kind of power to control or otherwise manipulate such communications.

As a school librarian — and the head of the American Library Association — I expect that the court’s ruling will negatively affect the daily lives of Americans in a number of ways, particularly children in K-12 schools. School, public, and college libraries rely upon the public availability of open, affordable internet access for school homework assignments, distance learning classes, e-government services, licensed databases, job-training videos, medical and scientific research, and many other essential services. We must ensure the same quality access to online educational content as to entertainment and other commercial offerings. But without net neutrality, we are in danger of prioritizing Mickey Mouse and Jennifer Lawrence over William Shakespeare and Teddy Roosevelt. This may maximize profits for large content providers, but it minimizes education for all.

If you feel strongly about this (or any other issue), here’s the link to all the contact information for US Senators and the page for your House Representative.

In other internet news, Google plans to allow Google+ users to send an email to anyone, even if they don’t have the person’s email address. Understandably, users are wondering what this means for privacy.

The Oscar nominations have been announced. Pajiba has the full list.

In sad news, actor Roger Lloyd-Pack died this week from pancreatic cancer at the age of 69. Lloyd-Pack is perhaps best known for his roles on Only Fools and Horses, Doctor Who, and The Vicar of Dibley. I’ve been watching The Vicar of Dibley lately, and his character was one of the funniest on there.

And because I just can’t help myself, let me segue into these photos of Peter Capaldi filming a new episode for Doctor Who. He’s wearing a nightgown and riding a fake horse. You’re welcome.

Until next time, friends.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

2 replies on “Friday News Bites: Mostly of the LGBT variety with a side of Net Neutrality”

Seriously people- if the quote didn’t get through to you, it means that the budget strapped public libraries (and school libraries!) will likely only be able to afford the lower tiers of service. Which means that no, just going and using the library’s wifi is not an option for dealing with the sudden absence of reams of educational content that is delivered online via streaming content- aka, the parts of the internet that are likely to be high tier.

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