Editorial: Wisconsin government blocks protesters’ Internet site

Editorial Board

A funny thing happened Monday at the Wisconsin Capitol; if you find humor in possible sinister government conspiracy theories.

Rest assured we haven’t found our Mel Gibson hats — past the next sentence, we’ll stick to informing and leave the theorizing up to you. Like the opinion editor said in Tuesday’s editorial, most people know bullshit when they smell it, and this one really stinks.

The teaching assistants in Wisconsin haven’t just unionized, they’ve gone so far as to launch a website: Defend Wisconsin, Against Scott Walker’s Attacks.

They’ve been far more on the ball than we have when it comes to protesting everyone’s grandpa playing hack-n-slash with university budgets. So on the ball, in fact, that their tiny little website became one of the major hubs for people looking to join the party.

The website had been up and running well before Monday, and had seen a hefty amount of traffic.

The website became blocked by the Capitol building’s Wi-Fi network Monday.

Sachin Chheda, chairman of the Milwaukee County Democrats and former employee of the Wisconsin Division of Enterprise Technology, spoke during a Tuesday morning press conference call sponsored by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“At some point on Monday, perhaps midday, administrators [of the site] learned it was being blocked. I learned of this later, saw it was happening, and saw that it doesn’t sound right. So I asked a colleague in the Capitol to send me a screenshot of what he saw when he tried to open it.”

What’s shown is a Google Chrome error window, listing the Internet protocol address for the Defend Wisconsin website. In the search bar, fancy numbers and computer speak indicate the website was blocked internally.

This isn’t a company workplace blocking access to something along the lines of Facebook. U.S. government employees knowingly and willingly restricted Internet access to a website specifically designed to facilitate citizens’ right to assemble.

Officials were quick to absolve themselves of responsibility. Carla Vigue, Wisconsin Department of Administration spokesperson, said, “Nobody decided to block this website, or took particular action to block this website,” and instead pointed the finger toward automated software.

If this is indeed the case, we may be inclined to call the folks up in Wisconsin and ask for proof of this claim.

If our conspiracy theories prove correct, Vigue and her cohorts seem to be in dire need of a history lesson on the First Amendment.