It would be unsurprising to discover that, as a loyal servant and employee of Her Majesty the Queen, access to, say, Dutch MILF websites would be restricted on state computers. But how about the Richard Dawkins message board? The Sam Harris appreciation society? Or reason.com? According to this BBC report, employees of the Birmingham City Council are allowed to freely waste taxpayer money perusing Christian, Muslim, and Hindu-themed websites, but are blocked from viewing sites that promote "atheistic views":
Lawyers at the National Secular Society said the move by Birmingham City Council was "discriminatory" and they would consider legal action.
The rules also ban sites that promote witchcraft, the paranormal, sexual deviancy and criminal activity.
Rather more disturbing is this story from the Daily Telegraph, in which the celebrated British playwright Simon Gray accuses celebrated National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner of cowardice. According to Gray, Hytner demonstrates "fearlessness in attacking Christianity," such as when he staged a production of Jerry Springer: The Opera, featuring Jesus "wearing a nappy and saying he was 'a bit gay.'" But Grey says the National Theatre is petrified of offending radical Muslims and wouldn't dare risk their wrath: "If there's going to be a play about 'inside radical Islam', it'll be a profoundly sympathetic, inquiring play, I'm sure. I can't imagine a play that's violently opposed to Islam … you can't be publicly … and certainly not at the National Theatre."
In other recent acts of Broadway bravery, Laurie Anderson, pretentious performance artist and wife of Lou Reed, opened her new production Homeland, a meditation on the harrowing life of a dissident violinist in Bush's America. New York Times critic Edward Rothstein notes the program's reference to Anderson's brave confrontation of "taboo subjects"—which, he soon finds out, aren't particularly taboo. As Rothstein says, "it turns out that the taboo of which Ms. Anderson speaks is the taboo against criticizing the war waged by the current Bush administration. But if any such taboos exist, surely they are at least as evident in the breach as in the observance. Moreover, Zimmermann's and Ms. Anderson's insistence on their own lonely courage and the urgency of their profound messages turns out to be not a strength at all."
If you're in the market, Laurie, I know of a cantankerous British writer who could suggest a few other "taboo subjects" that might be worth tackling.
Full review here.