Religious Right strangely silent about Foley

If there's one thing you have to concede to America's Religious Right, it's that these folks have an amazing media and public relations network and can issue press releases, get on television and radio and, when they really want to, mobilize their lemming-like flock faster than Jack Abramoff can bribe a Republican Congressman.

And yet here we sit, four days after it was revealed that Republican Congressman Mark Foley was using the Internet to go after teenaged boys, and all you can hear from our own little version of the Taliban is dead quiet and crickets chirping.

Odd, isn’t it? The same people who can move their followers to boycott any company that believes gay people even have the right to exist, can't muster much outrage over one of their own preying on young boys and, more importantly, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives ignoring it to save their political hides.

With the news out since Friday, James Dobson's Focus on the Family (FOF) still doesn’t say a word about it on their web site. In fact, if you go there right now and do a search on "Mark Foley," the closest thing you'll find citing Foley is a statement from March 2006 entitled More Funding Needed to Combat Child Porn.

They quote Foley in that piece as expressing concern that children will continue to be victimized if Congress does not act more proactively against child predators.

"We are still not funding it enough," they quote Foley as saying. "This is one of the most pervasive, dangerous elements in our society."

You just can't make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, the FOF site found plenty of time in their CitizenLink News Center to do 49 "news" stories in September covering a whole bunch of stuff including the presidential line-item veto, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act and rapidly urging members to "thank Gov. Schwarzenegger" for vetoing two pieces of California legislation "aimed at advancing the homosexual agenda" but that, to sane people, were really just simple antidiscrimination bills.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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