Sexuality, surfing and McDonald's

Last updated 09:21 11/01/2011

It may surprise you to hear that I don't think McDonald's did anything wrong in its censorship of certain websites with sexuality-related content.

A Stuff article yesterday said members of the gay community had been "outraged" by the decision to block some websites featuring LGBT-related content. But more vital information such as sexual health and a website for gay youth was readily available through McDonald's free wi-fi service. Some of the blocked websites contain links to explicit or sexually provocative material and the reasons for some being blocked are perhaps a little more confusing. might contain a lot of valuable and innocent content on the site, but the advertisements on the web pages are more explicit than the content and feature links to gay saunas and some even have pictures of half-naked men. Personally, I consider reading the website "not suitable for work" and when I want to read it I wait until I'm at home. It doesn't seem unreasonable that McDonald's would think the same way when there are ads on their site that read things like "Nude/nearly nude super safe sex Sunday afternoons". is a great website featuring informative discussion forums and other resources for young gay people, but is McDonald's really the only place to read a website like that? How on Earth did anyone cope before this free Wi-Fi service was available there? I don't personally have a problem with seeing it but I certainly think it's okay if McDonald's don't feel comfortable with parents and their kids potentially seeing any imagery or content that might mean they have to provide an explanation in a public place like McDonald's.

McDonald's is a family restaurant and it has a responsibility to uphold that image. It only takes one person's kid to look around and see someone surfing a slightly questionable site and have them ask "mummy, what's sex?" or "why are those men in bed together?" Of course, it would be nice if parents just explained that kind of thing, but to put that pressure or expectation on parents would not be fair - McDonald's is just trying to protect itself from resulting lawsuits. Apparently there is also a problem with the blocking of websites such as family planning, but how many people are really thinking about sex or reproduction while they eat?

There was a comment made that it somehow stops gay people from being able to connect with their gay friends and gay issues. However, if the only place you can go to do that is McDonald's, then you probably have some much bigger problems to deal with. Remember, there is always a visit to the library if you get stuck. There are plenty of ways to keep in touch with friends that you can still access there still too like email, or perhaps that wonderful contraption called a telephone might prove useful in this instance? I'm pretty sure Facebook isn't blocked and isn't that the way a lot of us keep in touch with our friends these days anyway?

I'm all for calling people or companies out when they have seriously and unfairly excluded or discriminated against people for their sexuality or something else, but this feels like a case of Air NZ/Kahui deja vu. They haven't only put this block in place for gay websites and nothing else, it's all adult/mature content. First it was Air New Zealand's turn, now McDonald's - who's going to be next, Starbucks? You know that mermaid in the new Starbucks logo is female, right? Well, I think that is just SO sexist, let's start a protest! *please note the thick layers of sarcasm*

Don't forget that McDonald's offer this Wi-Fi service in their restaurants free, yes that's right, FREE. Just like I have a right to ask people not to smoke in my house or take their shoes off before they walk in the door, McDonald's should also have the right to say "no sex please, this is a family show". Before you say it, I am well aware that not all LGBT content is about sex or pornography, but a lot of the sites do have links to such material which is probably one of the reasons for some of them being blocked.

It smacks of a sense of entitlement to take offence to this kind of censorship when McDonald's is just trying to ensure its customers don't get any unwanted surprises when they visit their restaurants. Whether that be gay, straight or whatever; it is a blanket block on all mature adult content and websites. This apparently includes, which is a male magazine website that is seemingly innocent, but does feature some fairly adult subject matter.

I don't really understand why helplines or groups like Rainbow Youth, who do amazing work, are blocked. Again though - if they don't want the website available, it really is up to them. They pay for the connection and there are plenty of other places to access the internet besides McDonald's if you really need such information; the library is the first place my brain would tell me to go for it, not my local burger joint. That doesn't mean they're being homophobic though, does it? If a gay couple were thrown out of a McDonald's for holding hands or an employee was fired for being gay, then we might have an issue - somebody call me if that happens.

Just like the Kahui incident, this is an example of picking on an issue and taking offence at it just because it can be spun to make it sound like people in the gay community are being picked on, discriminated against or excluded. Are there not any bigger battles or causes that the gay community needs to be giving attention to right now? I'm pretty sure there are. To my mind, this kind of protesting actually reverses a lot of the progress made in years gone by and makes the general public think the gay community are just a bunch of uptight militant jerks.

On Monday afternoon someone added me, not invited me, to a Facebook group called McDiscrimination and since I didn't quite agree that any wrongdoing had occurred, I decided to air my point of view on the subject. After all, I'd been added to a group by someone else so I took that as an invitation for discussion and figured that through that, someone would probably be able to help me see their point of view. Silly me.

Alas, what I considered a fairly level-headed and reasoned post on the subject, essentially a shorter and less acerbic version of the above, was not welcome. The post was removed and I was then told I was no longer a member of the group and got sent on my way with a "sorry to have disturbed you".

But wait a second, wasn't this an issue of protest against censorship? And yet, had they not just censored me and my own views on the subject? You want to know what really disturbs me? I didn't feel marginalised by McDonald's, but by the very minority group that I am, by default, a part of.

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Leon   #1   09:35 am Jan 11 2011

It did strike me as being somewhat unecessary whining, after all if they have some "dumb as a bag of hammers" adult filtering system then chances are a lot of harmless (or useful or educational) material will be blocked.

Not much point in being upset by a chosen internet filter service on something that is being provided to you for free.

Tygrrh   #2   09:39 am Jan 11 2011

Agreed Chaz. At the end of the day McDs is providing a free internet service to the general public that eat there and it is their choice what they allow to be viewed at their restaurants. As a mother, if and when my little girls asks me to explain such things, I will do so BUT I don't want to be placed on the spot, in a child friendly restaurant to explain why men are kissing or 'why's that man/woman got their bits out on a dating site'. Also, we never go to McDs so chances of that happening are hopefully nil!

YAY 2nd post

Saucy   #3   09:45 am Jan 11 2011

Right on. It's like getting free internet and then complaining that there's a data cap, or that it's too slow. Just accept that if you're using free internet, it's going to be on someone else's terms!

Chaz   #4   09:56 am Jan 11 2011

@Leon #1 - "Not much point in being upset by a chosen internet filter service on something that is being provided to you for free" - yes, quite.

@Saucy #3 - "Just accept that if you're using free internet, it's going to be on someone else's terms!" - agreed, but it's kind of sad that it even needs to be pointed out ay.

Cafe Chick   #5   09:58 am Jan 11 2011

To be honest, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about when I switched on the news last night. We're talking about a FREE service which is provided by a private business. There are bound to be other sites blocked which just haven't been discovered yet, or a bandwidth limit - should people complain about them, too?

JeM   #6   09:59 am Jan 11 2011

Chaz you are so right on this one. Absolutely 100%. I went to the library once and the dude on the computer next to me was watching porn. I wasn't impressed but it was in the adult section of the library so ignored it (but ewwww!). But if I saw something like that at McDonalds, with kids around (even if it is just dodgy advertising - gay or straight) I wouldn't be impressed. They have every right to protect themselves from that, as you said, it is THEIR internet.

MC (the other one!)   #7   10:05 am Jan 11 2011

Great post Chaz, pretty much exactly what I was thinking when I saw the beat-up story on the news last night.

Baxter   #8   10:06 am Jan 11 2011

The best response/commment about this came from Gaynz themselves on 3news... we arent all about sex etc etc - front page of the website had a poll on what All Black you want to score, an ad for a sex on site place and some other stuff... As a gay man myself I find this stuff amusing. And from what I have seen Gaynz doesnt really have anything helpful for gay people (or anyone else) just naff rubbish about nothing, oh and some sex - cause we all know sex sells.

PS - What gay person is going to eat at McDonalds anyway? Or even sit in there on their laptop/iphone etc etc???

Jags   #9   10:06 am Jan 11 2011

It's fair enough that adult material is blocked, it's the automatic classification of gay material as adult material that is unfair.

HelenHeels   #10   10:19 am Jan 11 2011

I tend to agree with you and the above comments. I think if its free - beggers can't be choosers. And the block of all intense purposes is probably prehistoric. There is probably lots of stuff that is 'clean' PG sites that cant get on because of a phrase that can be taken 2 ways.

I used to work at a bank and they had a block that filterd 'god' and religious type words? as well as pretty much everthing else in emails, but didn't block hotmail, facebook or trade me? Go figure.

When you get it free, provided by someone else you do have to play by their rules.

So Chaz the 'Gay Mafia' deleted you? Does that mean you've arrived?

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