I do not often write pieces like this exactly as they happen but having just experienced an example of someone with power but no legitimate authority making decisions for me, I felt it was necessary.
Let me explain.
Last night I went to practice night at my Archery Club with the new equipment that I purchased at great expense in Loughborough last week (the club lets you borrow their gear free of charge for 6 weeks but after that you need to have your own).
One of the bits I didn’t have to buy was an adjustable bowsight because my younger daughter purchased a complete set of Archery gear for me from a colleague at her workplace who has given up the sport. Much of this turns out to be too small for me and will be sold on but the sight is good quality and is reusable. It was duly connected to my new handle.
Anyway I turned up at practice and was soon shooting off my fancy new Aluminium/Carbon Fibre arrows – with some success.
Until, that is, about 30 minutes in – when the sight fell off!
Following a bit of swift detective work I found that the screws holding it to the handle, which I had pinched off the old bow were fractionally too small for the standard-sized holes in the new kit – apparently standards change over the years!
So new screws need to be obtained and the obvious place to get the right ones seemed (to me anyway) to be the place I bought the Bow. Now I have no intention of driving a 120 mile round trip to Loughborough and back again, including the rather confusing Leicester Ring Road, just to buy a packet of screws so an online purchase was obviously needed.
Tuesday morning at the library saw my two current students in the beginners’ course working merrily through the on-line training without too many questions so I decided to whip out my trusty laptop PC and do a spot of on-line purchasing using the Library’s Public Wi-Fi. I opened a browser window and headed for Merlin Archery’s site.
A huge red banner appeared on my screen bearing the words “THIS CONTENT HAS BEEN BLOCKED BECAUSE IT DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE ACCEPTABLE USAGE POLICY”! It then went on to tell me that my request to access it “has been logged” and I imagine that if the sound hadn’t been muted klaxons would have been going off to lead the Improper Usage Squad directly to me!
To be fair, the message does go on to tell me exactly how I have transgressed the unwritten code:
Category – Personal Weapons, Safe Content Filetypes, Hunting and Sporting, Web Content
Reason – Content of type Personal Weapons (Content filtering) blocked.
So basically, the Library, or more accurately SERCO who provide IT Services for it, have made an arbitrary decision on my behalf that I should not want to go to a particular web site because the things it sells are dangerous!
Who decided that THAT was unacceptable and why then can I browse d-i-y shops (I know I can – I tried) using the same connection and stare without restriction or alarm bells at large, cuddly, sharp axes and big, soft, heavy sledgehammers? With them I could commit much more mayhem on my fellow humans than I could manage with a bow and eight arrows (especially since I can’t aim them properly at present)! So why aren’t B&Q, Wickes etc. blocked then?
Possibly some bleeding heart at SERCO has no objection to sporting goods capable of being used as weapons per se and it may be that the operative word in the “category” mentioned above is “Hunting” – a site selling equipment that some vicious bastard could use to kill little furry creatures obviously needs its access blocking! Plainly, they haven’t seen me out in Lynch Wood chucking Homebase axes at squirrels.
It is all part of the culture that sees takeaway coffee cups contain warnings about the possibility of them containing hot liquids (personally I’d want my money back if they didn’t) or, in a similar vein, the sign that used to be affixed to the radiators in the coffee shop at a nearby country park. “This radiator may become HOT”! Really? Is that a design fault or something?
The Nanny State is everywhere – you cannot now do anything without someone inflicting either their own opinion of what you should look at or making it actually illegal to do almost anything that might be the tiniest bit dangerous. Who gives these people these powers over us? I’ve certainly never read anything about such laws in any political manifesto which means we’ve never actually voted on that issue and “someone” has simply imposed their own will on us.
But don’t get me started on Health & Safety – I’ve already done a bit about that which you can find in the Archives back at 6th April 2010. It may just be time for me to brush off the scrolling screensaver that I mentioned there: “Health & Safety – keeping idiots in the human gene pool”!
Oh, and I’d just like to say to SERCO that I went home, accessed the Merlin Archery website from my woefully unrestricted home PC, ordered the bloody screws and all without harming a single living creature! So the only effect your stupid ban had was to make me extremely annoyed (which no-one should EVER want to do) and to wish for something really unpleasant (such as tripping over a huge pile of Risk Assessment forms) to happen to your I.T. Policy Manager!