Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Birmingham City Council - Incompetant or Anti-Atheist?

There's a post up over at the hugely popular american evolution/aethist blog Pharyngula concerning this article on the BBC website about our council here in Brum blocking access to atheist websites while allowing access to religious sites. Most people at Pharyngula seem to be taking this as evidence of someone deliberately trying to impose their faith on council employees, but having probably had more contact with the council than any of the Americans posting there I feel pretty confident in saying this won't turn out to be the case. Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in the whole of Europe and by all accounts is a bureucratic nightmare (as anyone who has had to sort out a problem with their council tax knows all too well) so I find it extremely unlikely that anyone went into any sort of detail in checking what was being blocked, and even if they had why would they block atheist sites? Religion just isn't an issue over here in the same way as it is in the US, the number of regular church-goers is completely dwarfed by the number of people who state they have no religion and considering that the company providing the blocking software is American it seems far more likely to have been a default setting which got overlooked. When it comes down to a council employee either being lazy/clueless or deliberately breaking the law to discriminate against atheists I know where my money is.

UPDATE: See, I told you they were fucking incompetant.


Anonymous said...

You have the right of it sir. I speak as one who has actually worked on web filters, is an atheist, and is not a complete idiot.

Anton Vowl said...

I didn't really think they were being anti-atheist, merely shit - my main problem was with the restrictions in the first place, whoever it was that decided to make them the way they are. It's a bit pisspoor to just bring in American software and not wonder whether it works for your business - but yes, I can believe that. And if they put their hands up and said "Look, we are rather shit" then that would have been fine. But they didn't; as all local authorities everywhere ever always do they tried to bullshit their way out of the shit by saying more shit.

NRG said...

I wasn't quite sure from the original article whether the statement they made was in direct response to the complaint from the National Secular Society or not, if it was then I agree it was a crap reply. Will have to wait and see whether the policy gets changed, I can't see that they'd have a leg to stand on in court but at the same time the complaint has got to make its way to someone who can actually do something about it.