If I was to point out one thing that probably defined my childhood was the unease at not knowing if what you were doing was “right”. I don’t mean in a right or wrong kind of sense, but the collective thought that what you were doing was the “right” or “normal” thing to do. I remember pleading with my parents when I wanted my first name brand jumper, only because everyone else was wearing them. It’s that kind of collective youth hivemind that creates trends and it controls the way that you grow up. I realise now that there is nothing clever about trying to fit in as no one ever does, and the more interesting people will never truly find a common ground with the populace.

I guess what I am trying to say is that during the most of my life I have been some sort of minority; A smart kid at a state school, a Scotsman in Great Britain, a person with no real love of a football team. But these minorities mean nothing because we can surround our selves with a barrier of like minded people and feel more at home. I have never felt like a persecuted minority, because I am white, male, English speaking and not homosexual. I have never known the feeling of being unjustly let down by society.

This brings me neatly to something that shocked and upset me yesterday when the company I work for in Texas sent out new internet guidelines. We have already talked at length on this blog about Atheism and my lack of belief in God, and I have also talked already about the Texan fascination with the religious, but what I read yesterday shocked me beyond anything I would’ve imagined – the company sent out a document detailing the different categories that are not allowed to be visited during company time. Most of these follow strange guidelines about sex, gambling, alcohol, social network, the usual thing that you would expect, save for one insane line.

“Alternative Belief / Spirituality: Sites that promote and provide information on alternative / spiritual and non-religious beliefs (e.g., atheism, agnosticism, witchcraft, and Satanism). Occult practices, voodoo rituals, or any other form of mysticism are represented here. This 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. The category includes sites that discuss or deal with paranormal or unexplained events.”

So let me point out three incredible things that make this seem like parody. One, they are banning me from reading sites about Atheism. Okay, no problem you might say, until I point out that the “Religion” section is free from any sort of block. They have decided to block non religion but allow religion to be read about. That is the scariest double standard I have ever heard of. The second is the fact that they even have to mention voodoo, occult or witchcraft. This isn’t Salem, this isn’t the Crucible, why on earth would you have to even mention this... nonsense in an official issued document to,supposedly learned people? And thirdly, the disgusting suggestion that witchcraft, voodoo and the occult are the same as Atheism, makes my blood boil.

So, as a learn Atheist in the United States I can no longer read some of my Atheist website sites but my religious friends can read about their beliefs? I am not saying they should be blocked from doing so – what I am saying is that I have the religious right to have equality for my beliefs, surely. This is the technological age!

I will finish this post off with a point – the internet is for business use only and people who use it for religious reasons should be doing it on their own time. Would they have kicked up a fuss about having their sites blocked? Most likely. I am not going to let it pass, and will be raising several complaints once I have found out the correct method in which to approach it. I am not the only person in the office that finds it surprising and annoying though.