It came to our attention recently that certain company website-blocking filters are branding our very own Swirled News as something other than what it is. This raises some interesting points. ANDY THOMAS and a variety of correspondents mull the funny and serious sides of the matter…
Some large companies utilise filter programs to prevent their employees accessing non-work-related websites during office hours. Anyone trying to enter a site not considered relevant or suitable will find a message coming up explaining why that website is being blocked.
It was brought to our attention recently that a certain large British company (which shall remain nameless here) has been employing such technology, and that Swirled News was one of the websites being disallowed. That in itself isn’t such a big deal; after all, reading about crop circles in work conditions probably ISN’T the best use of that company’s time. What was interesting, though, was the grounds for refusing entry to Swirled News. Here’s the reason given, exactly as worded:
”This category consists of: ‘Non-Traditional Religions and Occult and Folklore’. Sites that provide information about or promote religions not specified in Traditional Religions or other unconventional, cultic, or folkloric beliefs and practices.”
Wow - we managed to start a cult religion without even realising it! Since when did having interest in crop circles make us members of a ‘non-traditional religion’? Or any of the other stuff, come to that?
What is interesting about this is how it makes one realise that a) even in the modern world, people just doesn’t know how to categorise the crop circle subject, and b) how anything not seen as mainstream, but which touches on interests outside of the usual worldview box, is still treated like some medieaval superstition to be feared. Human thinking has come so far, on one level... yet on the other, we remain in the dark ages, ruled by underlying fundamentalism from various creeds and systems (including scientism) that fear change or anything that might upset the precarious balance of their fragile social structures, as a simple glance at current world events will demonstrate.
It may seem like a little thing, but the categorisation of Swirled News (and presumably lots of other ‘alternative interest’ websites) in this way does speak volumes about the world we live in today – and of the desperate need to change it, so that it becomes more inclusive to all interests and researches.
However, though this in itself also speaks volumes, there is an amusing coda (depending on which way you look at it) to this story:
Incensed by the categorisation of Swirled News as a non-traditional religion with occult overtones, our contact e-mailed the website filtering company to complain. Amazingly, this did get a result and, soon after, the category of our beloved website was changed. We can now announce, therefore, that Swirled News is now officially listed in their database as...
Oddly, in this new category, we aren’t being blocked anymore... You couldn’t make this stuff up.
As news of this business spread amongst some Swirled News correspondents, I received a number of interesting or amusing comments, which are worth reproducing here...
I reckon you should still complain - documentation/research/artistic content/anthropology - it's all there – JOHN BOWEN
As long as the word "adult" doesn't get added to it you're OK! – DENISE MILLER
Still begs the questions as to why people are accessing entertainment sites during office hours! And as the Universe is FUN, then entertainment quite fits! – ‘HERCS POIROT’
Does that make you Chief High Priest then?!!! – LINDSAY
Excellent, well done! – EMMA HOLMWOOD
Could be worse. Could be 'Arboriculture'... – MARK HILLS
Never knew you were a cult leader!! I shall expect more entertainment from now on!! – PAUL WRIGHT
They must know of your legendary prowess of treading the boards, Andy! :) – IAN BAILLIE
What a laugh - I guess it would be too much for them to put Swirled News into a 'Science' category - scientists might spot it and have to take it all seriously then... – JOAN BROWN
Blimey, slight over-reaction there methinks – ANDREW PRINCE
[Before recategorisation] Just finished an interesting book on Giordano Bruno, a Catholic heretic burnt at the stake in the 1590's. We'd be in esteemed company! [After recategorisation] Andy Thomas dragged from the flames - exclusive! – ALLAN BROWN
And one final, more serious one from NEWELL FISHER...
I'd be interested to know how one finds out what classification a website has on such filters, considering the alternative nature of my own beliefs.
These companies need to be more careful how they treat the beliefs of others, legally speaking, since what you believe is arguably covered by religious discrimination legislation. You might be interested in a test for cult status that Isaac Bonewits came up with years ago, which is a fairly objective way of demonstrating that what one does is not cult-like.
It can be found here: