A city council has blocked its staff from looking at websites about Christianity.
Imagine if this had happened? Journalists would be racing through their contacts books to get hold of Christian Voice and as many pressure groups as they could find, hoping for a stunned and appalled reaction. The columnists would be sharpening their talons ready to attack a clearly 'loony-left' piece of 'PC fascism'. Readers would pile in with thousands upon thousands of comments attacking the decision for being a disgraceful attack on religion.
But this hasn't happened. This has, though:
A city council has blocked its staff from looking at websites about atheism.
Nothing. No-one gives a shit. Come on, where's the outrage? Where's the hatred towards this council? Where's the hundreds of angry comments?
Now, I don't mind employers choosing what websites their employees do and don't see when they're in the workplace. I think that's perfectly understandable, when the employer owns the equipment and is paying the employee to be doing work, not surfing the net. That's fair enough and you can't really say that it's some kind of infringement on your 'yuman rites (c) Littlejohn' not to be able to have leisure time when you're being paid to be doing work. On the other hand, some enlightened employers do allow employees to do shopping, go on Facebook or even read the Daily Mail while they're at work (the poor bastards), in the interests of keeping the workforce happy and therefore productive. I'm not saying either approach is right but I think you can say that each is equally legitimate.
However, this is my problem:
The authority's Bluecoat WebFilter computer system allows staff to look at websites relating to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions but blocks sites to do with "witchcraft or Satanism" and "occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism".
A few things wrong there, surely. What's the difference between a religion and something like voodoo or witchcraft? It appears the legitimacy comes from texts rather than beliefs. Yet both voodoo and Christianity have themes of resurrection; both Islam and Satanism have themes of life after death. And atheism is just, well, believing that these things *don't* exist. Where is the delineation coming from and what is the justification for it? Why should I be able to read Pat Robertson but not Bertrand Russell?
I think that someone - wrongly - thought they had to allow religious stuff because of discrimination laws, but didn't have to do the same with beliefs not considered religious, ie occultism or atheism. But I'm not so sure that's the right decision:
Under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their religion or belief, which includes atheism.
National Secular Society president Terry Sanderson said the city council's rules also discriminated against people who practise witchcraft, which is also classed as a legitimate belief.
The council's justification is that people need to be able to see sites for 'business reasons'. Which doesn't work for me. What if someone involved in child protection, for example, has an issue arising from a family who do practise occultism, and wants to find out more for perfectly understandable 'business reasons'? What then?
It's a right old mess. The supreme irony, of course, is that Birmingham City Council has for years been pilloried for using 'Winterval' rather than 'Christmas', even though 'Winterval' was just a marketing name and wasn't meant to be a PC term for Christmas. For years they've suffered opprobrium because of that non-existent anti-Christian discrimination; now they *are* discriminating against atheists, no-one gives a monkey's.