Imagine my glee this week when Elaine, valued subscriber to NOT the Berwickshire Advertiser, left this comment:
I wonder if you realise that we’re not allowed to read your most excellent blog in the public library? Home broadband problems recently drove me to the library, and when I attempted to click on the link to your blog I got a stern warning that I was breaching the ‘acceptable use policy’ of Northumberland County Libraries.
Now, there’s a lot of information to absorb here so I’ll take you through it to ensure a thorough understanding.
“Your most excellent blog” — I think we’re all in agreement that we’re dealing with an intelligent contributor to our little community. We can trust whatever she has to say. She is safe.
“Home broadband problems recently drove me to the library” — two points to note:
- it implies that this blog is so gum-rubbingly moreish that people have to leave their homes in order to score a ten-bag of NOT BAd’s sarcastic joie de vivre. This blog literally saves libraries from closure and, by extension, pensioners from being bludgeoned into handing over their BT Home Hub.
- it allows me to pick the scab off the sore point of the region’s shoddy internet provision, although to be fair I have been able to soothe my weeping connectivity with a salve made from Sir Alan Beith’s retirement news. The longest-serving Liberal MP since Lloyd George boasts of being a long-term campaigner for decent internet provision and dualling of the A1. Long-term campaigner? Surely that simply means somebody who’s managed to keep a chocolate teapot warm over a flame of bugger-all for an indeterminate length of time. Still, he’ll be able to give his pouring arm a rest when he passes the teapot to someone else in 2015.
“When I attempted to click on the link to your blog I got a stern warning that I was breaching the ‘acceptable use policy’ of Northumberland County Libraries” — this is the very definition of ‘Zeitgeist’.
Guardian readers have been wringing their hands like darling Tuscan peasants in a lavender field ever since they first read about David Cameron’s sweet but misguided suggestion that the internet might be a more pleasant place if less porn was available for kids to access. The Guardianista is torn, see? On the one hand, the Mumsnet contingent would like to see all porn banned to prevent Theo and Arty from becoming self-expressive sex pests; on the other, censorship could endanger their right to tell fat poor people to make the change to olive oil.
Until they make their mind up, the prime minister stands alone, a modern-day Canute, trousers rolled up while a swelling tide of sexual violence and perversion slaps around his ankles as it erodes and deposits… erodes and deposits… irretrievably changing the landscape of children’s sexual development.
While no one could, in all conscience, argue against Cameron’s ideals — we’re all with Whitney on this one, we believe the children are our future — the filtering tool he wants to use to control this unrelenting longshore drift of abusive pornography is too crude. It would be like trying to pick out the sherbet pips from a bowl of Smarties wearing boxing gloves.
Northumberland County Libraries are merely demonstrating this precise problem — and you’ve probably experienced similar difficulties if you’ve tried to access the internet from other public institutions such as schools and colleges. A quick shuffle through the Council’s Internet Access Policy for Libraries reveals that:
The Council will adopt filtering to block access to sites that fall into the following categories: adult/sexually explicit, criminal skills, gambling, hacking, illegal drugs, intolerance and hate, spyware, violence and weapons.
Here at NOT BAd the nearest we get to being sexually explicit is scratching our arse while trying to come up with our next golden thought shower. Criminal skills? Yep, absolutely shocking. We enjoy a scratch card as much as the next low wage earner, only ever hack with a cold and, besides, ‘illegal drugs’ is open to interpretation. Admittedly we are Guardian reader and socialist intolerant, but that’s because they’re stupid. As far as Spyware is concerned, it’s how 007 keeps the crunch in his HobNobs and, oh, we have been accused of being in possession of both a blunt manner and a sharp tongue so, okay, hands up to carrying.
See what I mean? While the Council says:
In providing internet access Libraries will: act in accordance with the principles of freedom of thought and expression
regardless of their background …
The policy will allow access to social media networking sites including but not limited to: blogs …
if you express your freedom of thought using words that the filter deems… genital referencey? A little bit stabby? — there’s a good chance your site will be blocked. If Cameron pushes ahead with the mandatory ISP filter programme, thousands of channels depicting LOL pussies and puppies will get dumped and drowned in the same sack as channels depicting things not remotely LOL at all. Suddenly Friday afternoons will seem a lot longer for a lot of people.
Even innocent words — words a distillate of Taylor Swift before she became bitter — could get caught in this all-encompassing dragnet, unable to escape like so many undersized tuna. Elaine suggested my name could be the reason behind Northumberland County Council expelling NOT The Berwickshire Advertiser from its libraries’ doors, for such is the cunning of porn site SEO that even a nom de plume inspired by Virgin Airways could be considered a window on a three-way donkey novelty act.
Naturally, I’ll be contacting Northumberland County Council to get this blog removed from their blocked list; as it says itself, the purpose of its Internet Access Policy is to:
provide access to information and services in libraries which meet the needs of the communities they serve.
And face it, you need NOT BAd. Well, it’s either us or Sir Alan Beith.
What are your thoughts on Cameron’s proposed porn filter — knee-jerk reaction or is it time someone took a stand? Is it workable or completely pie-in-the-sky? Please leave a comment via the button at the top of the page.