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Web filters to include web forums and "esoteric material"!?

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Web filters to include web forums and "esoteric material"!?

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:24 pm

Having done a bit of reading into the proposed default internet filters by David Cameron, I'm very disturbed by some of the actual content that is going to be filtered. Although there will be an "opt-out" choice for people who want access to the material, I don't approve of a default filter in the first place. I think if there is to be a filter, it should be something people opt IN for, rather than something that is automatically set and that people have to take steps to get rid of.

Furthermore, there is some material on the list of subjects to possibly be filtered that just shouldn't be there in my opinion. Most disturbing to me is the fact that web forums and "esoteric material" are apparently on the list.

To be clear, I don't like the idea of an automatic filter for the other subjects either, but given my own interests, I'm most concerned about the forums and esoteric subjects being on the list.

"Esoteric" covers a wide range of subjects that I and many others in this country are interested in - the potential areas esotericism can cover are vast, including general alternative spirituality, such as the New Age spiritual system, psychic ability, Tarot, astrology, alchemy, parapsychology, anything to do with the paranormal, paganism, witchcraft, occultism, magick, astral projection, clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc, etc.

I am wholeheartedly opposed to automatic filters set to block access to websites pertaining to occultism and alternative spirituality. Not only are almost all of the websites perfectly harmless and in fact are positive and uplifting, such a filter would be tantamount to the government interfering with people's free expression of their spirituality, and their freedom to pursue information regarding their area of spirituality. When it comes to individuals' personal metaphysical beliefs, the government has no place getting involved.

There have been some posts about this in the spiritual and pagan communities online, and a petition has been made to fight against it:

http://belsebuub.com/sign-the-petition-to-stop-the-censoring-of-esoteric-websites-in-the-uk

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/uk-prime-minister-david-cameron-stop-the-unnecessary-censor-of-esoteric-websites-and-web-forum

The second one is the actual petition.

As a spiritual occultist with deep interest in this stuff, I find myself very worried about this. I'm deeply hoping that it doesn't come to pass.
Last edited by Bee Gees Fan on Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Web filters to include web forums and "esoteric material

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:29 pm

Some pertinent quotations:

The filters are set to be implemented by the UK’s major ISPs, which encompass 95% of British web users, with even McDonalds already caught blocking websites considered “Alternative Spirituality/Belief”...Websites of organizations that promote “esoteric practices” whether directly or indirectly, and the websites of “universally acknowledged sects” have already been blocked on pay-as-you-go Orange phones. Jaime Tanna, the petition’s founder also writes about how he was unable to visit his own website whilst at an internet café in the UK 2 years ago due to the cafe’s policies:

“Together with my wife, we run a holistic business which also mentions “spiritual healing” amongst other key services such as Reiki, Reflexology and Indian Head Massage. I was stunned to find that I could not access my own website as it was blocked for “religious” content. The message on the screen told me it was classified under “Alternative Spirituality/Belief”, and access was categorically blocked.”



Former Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre boss Jim Gamble told BBC Radio it was important to “get to the root cause” of illegal pornography. I agree, but I would also add that it is important to get to the root cause of why “esoteric material” became part of this filter, who was responsible for adding it, what their religious or non-religious affiliations are, and why it has not been addressed publicly by David Cameron? This appears to have been done as a very shady back-door deal indeed between the UK government and large ISP companies, which probably would have gone completely unnoticed if it hadn’t been for the Open Rights Group actually contacting the ISPs to find out exactly what was going to be filtered.


This is a major issue of religious and human rights, and the inclusion of “esoteric material” on such a filter is clearly symptomatic of a much deeper, underlying problem in UK society and state policy. It is likely that larger, mainstream religions will remain unaffected (at least for now), whilst it is used to discriminate against, marginalize, and stigmatize all manner of alternative spiritual viewpoints and faiths. This does not bode well; it is an indicator of something deeply wrong, and this may well just be the beginning. What starts as an “opt-out” filter may end up as something more permanent, as they lead us “down the garden path” one small step at a time. It is very important to not budge an inch now, because trying to turn things back will be 100 fold more difficult.


It is a dangerous move for any country to suppress, censor, or encourage bigotry toward spirituality—just take the Nazis, communist China, and Soviet Russia as examples. This is a highly significant step in the direction of totalitarianism for any society to make.


We should and must protect our children, but should we be sending a message to our children that spirituality is harmful, just like pornography, violence, and suicide? Should corporations or the state play any part in determining our spiritual choices? Should we make room for spirituality to be marginalized and discriminated against in our society? Absolutely not!


Who will determine what the word "esoteric" means? This is the first question to ask ourselves.

Will websites that mention "spiritual healing" and "reiki" be blocked by default? Will websites that have "pagan" overtones - those which use words like "summer solstice" or "tarot" or "wiccan" - be blocked? Would the category of eating "raw foods" (there is a big "raw foods" health movement in the USA, for example) be classed as cult-like or "esoteric" material, either now or in the future, and blocked? These are valid concerns that should not be casually brushed aside.

The word "esoteric" is a broad catch-all term/category that is ripe for misuse by our government.



The second question to ask ourselves is why is the word "esoteric" such a problem? Why does Cameron and the UK government want to police people's behaviour in a way that seriously undermines our individual and collective right to think and act freely?


Public figure websites such as the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, and Neale Donald Walsch would almost certainly fall into this category of "esoteric" and "alternative spirituality/belief." The British Society of Dowsers and The London School of Psychic Studies would probably fall into the category of esoteric, and so would many other smaller, well-meaning websites.

I do not want to live in a world where website material that is inspiring and uplifting is banned, whether intentionally, or as the result of passing laws that make access impossible.

I also do not wish to see "esoteric material" or "alternative belief/spirituality" lumped in with pornography and extreme hate. That is a false and most disturbing association, and must be rectified immediately.

Many uninformed people will start to view "esotericism" and "alternative belief/spirituality" as material that is taboo, and will certainly wish to avoid the stigma of being associated with it.



Dara from Sydney in Australia says, "I think the thing that I find the most disturbing though, is looking down the road to the long-term implications. If this legislation passes in the UK, and then other parts of the world, then that means the power exists for any government, or many of them, to completely shut down a chunk of humanity’s access to spiritual material online. And if the power exists, then someday, someone is likely going to use it, to its full extent. That’s why it’s being put in place now, hidden amidst the other issues. The leap from people being completely banned from sharing, viewing, and publishing esoteric material online, to people being banned from sharing and practicing alternative spirituality in real life is not very big. It could happen so easily once the precedent is set."
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Re: Web filters to include web forums and "esoteric material

Postby Moon-Crane » Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:54 am

It's completely irrelevant what type of things may be caught up in the nonsense (not that it's ever going to realistically work in any way whatsoever). As you mention at the beginning of your posts - just the fact that they want to attempt to censor anything at all is enough for anyone with any sense to be against such government interference.
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Re: Web filters to include web forums and "esoteric material

Postby Ariel » Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:41 pm

Just felt I had to mention that I actually watched a programme on Wicca and it's founder on TV last night, and I probably wouldn't have bothered if it hadn't been for some posts I'd read on here. my only problem with it as a religion is not it's ethos but the fact that in order to be a religion you seem to have to go and 'be religious' with other like minded people, i'd rather have my own feelings, beliefs, morals etc and pretty much keep them to myself!! Not really into people en masse!!
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Re: Web filters to include web forums and "esoteric material

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:01 am

Ariel wrote:Just felt I had to mention that I actually watched a programme on Wicca and it's founder on TV last night


That would be 'A Very British Witchcraft', I presume? The one about Gerald Gardner. I watched it too. Did you enjoy it?

Ariel wrote:in order to be a religion you seem to have to go and 'be religious' with other like minded people, i'd rather have my own feelings, beliefs, morals etc and pretty much keep them to myself!! Not really into people en masse!!


I think that's a misunderstanding you have there if you're applying it to Wicca. You don't *have* to go and be religious with like minded people, especially not if you're a Wiccan. In fact, there are many Wiccans who are what is called "solitary practitioners" which means they practice Wicca by themselves and don't join up/do things together with other groups - they just prefer to practice their faith by themselves.

But since most humans are social animals, they generally prefer to do things as a group. So yes, you get people of faith coming together to practice together, but that's no different to any other social group or function. Their activities may differ, but apart from that, it's just the same as any other group of people that come together to socialise. There are groups for music lovers to come together and share their devotion of music, groups for theatre lovers, groups for literature lovers, groups for sports lovers. People just like to get together with like-minded people and socialise and have fun. It's a part of human nature, so the fact that many religious people like to come together socially is really no surprise. Most people are (to a degree) somewhat sociable and like to spend time with other people.

The majority of Wiccans do keep their personal beliefs/morals to themselves unless they're pressed about them. They'll discuss their practices/faith with like-minded people and people who show an interest, but it's not something they make a point of discussing with people. If it comes up, it comes up.
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Re: Web filters to include web forums and "esoteric material

Postby Ariel » Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:23 pm

Thanks BeeGees fan, I was hoping for a bit more about Wiccan beliefs and a bit less about dancing round naked, this to me seems to be the reason why people think anyone interested in wicca and similiar belief systems must be nuts. Can you recommend me some more practical Wicca 101 type reading on the net?
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