Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Atheists as bad as witches and paedophiles

Via strummer on the badscience forums, a lovely piece of managerial fuckwittery. Apparently Birmingham City Council has banned access to sites:
"to do with "witchcraft or Satanism" and "occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism".
But not mainstream religions like Christianity, noo, no 'mysticism' there! The national secular society is on the case as this is not only ridiculous but also illegal. It looks like this is an example of the council implementing some proprietrary net usage restriction sofware, presumably from the US (thanks to Szlater - Blue Coat WebFilter)- at least I hope so, the alternative is just too disturbing, but Szlater points out that "Alternative Spirituality/Occult" and "Religion" as seperate with atheism and Wicca presumably part of the former, and Christianity and Hinduism part of the latter (I note you can also ban "Abortion", "Education", "LGBT", "Political/Activist Groups", "Sex Education ", "Spyware Effects/Privacy Concerns") so Birmingham Council obviously have some choice in the matter.

More at Pharyngula, you can see how a site is categorised here, and the category descriptions here:

"22 - Alternative Spirituality/Occult

Sites that promote and provide information on religions such as Witchcraft or Satanism. Occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism are represented here. Includes sites that endorse or offer methods, means of instruction, or other resources to affect or influence real events through the use of spells, incantations, curses and magic powers. This category includes sites which discuss or deal with paranormal or unexplained events." [my emphasis]

Apparently RichardDawkins.net was listed as 'Religion' but is now 'Society/Daily Living'!

*Since I'm reusing old post titles, this one refers to previous posts pointing out that atheists are worse than terrorists and as bad as gays and Jews, apparently this Blue Coat software also blocks access to sites that "promote witchcraft, the paranormal, sexual deviancy and criminal activity."


Woobegone said...

That said, it would be a lot of fun if atheists really did have mystical powers, as these people seem to think we do. I can easily see Richard Dawkins turning someone into a frog.

jdc325 said...

I find myself wondering how much mysticism there really is in atheism. I just don't associate atheism with alternative spirituality or the occult as, for me, atheism can be simply a lack of belief in God (or Gods). Presumably the categorising of atheism as ‘alternative spirituality or occult’ was done by someone who believed atheism to be some kind of religion. Perhaps involving black magic or some kind of Satanism. [Presumably someone at Blue Coat if the categories are pre-set]
Anyway, your post on the subject will probably be sufficient to get this blog barred by Birmingham Council – fancy suing them?

pj said...

I'm likely to already be barred as a blog site anyway ('Blogs/Personal Pages').

I notice that the feminist blog 'The F Word' (linked in my sidebar) is listed as 'Sex Education', and 'Adult/Mature Content' and the National Secular Scoeity is 'Religion' and 'Society/Daily Living', with Marie Stopes 'Sex Education' rather than 'Abortion' and the BNP is 'Political/Activist Groups' rather than 'Violence/Hate/Racism' (although the NF is in the latter) and Combat 18 discussion forum is 'Real Estate'!

LemmusLemmus said...

"Apparently RichardDawkins.net was listed as 'Religion' but is now 'Society/Daily Living'!"

Heh! I rather like the link you put up where one can look up sites and suggest alternative categories. One could imagine a concerted boycott of this service, which seems to rely heavily on user suggestions - or do you think they look up every page on the web? If only enough people suggest a certain site is "for kids", it will probably be recategorized. It seems to have worked for Richard Dawkins.

I was very tempted to suggest my own site as "suspicious".