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Mar 30 2012

Hey, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio!

What the hell is wrong with you, stupid hospital?

I just got an email from the parent of one of your patients. He reports that there are four bibles in the hospital room, and further, as an organization with a mind so open that the contradictions and conflicts blow breezily by with no actual interference with the substance of your brains, patients can also request copies of the Qur’an, Jewish holy books, or any other religious text they can imagine; further, the wireless internet available in the room allows patients and visitors to visit the Vatican website, or browse Pat Robertson’s pit of misinformation, or watch Kent Hovind’s videos, or cruise on over to Answers in Genesis or the ICR. How nice.

However, you’ve also put nanny filters on the web, and block access to anything in the category “Alternative Spirituality/Belief”, which, apparently, you get to define. The above listed loathsome lairs of liars are OK, but guess who gets blocked? American Atheists, and the entirety of Freethoughtblogs.

I suspect you’ve got some pious goon in your IT department. You might want to slap them around a bit and tell them that they don’t get to impose their religious bigotry on every patient in the hospital. Who are you to tell the patients in your hospital what religious beliefs, or in this case absence thereof, they are allowed to practice?

If you don’t watch out, I’ll have to sic JT or some of the other nearby SSA staff on you. Then you’ll be sorry. They’ll gnaw on you just for fun.

51 comments

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  1. 1
    janiceintoronto

    Stands back.

    Waits for the fun.

    Please, oh please, let us know what happens!

  2. 2
    stonyground

    Unbelievers can have quite a lot of fun with the Bible if they take the time to gain a little knowledge about what is in it. Did you know that you can deal with a mouse infestation by making little golden mice as a sin offering to the Lord? The Bible has its very own talking donkey just like Shrek, and states in several places that the Earth is flat. Every single Bible story is riddled with absurdities and contradictions, those ten plagues get inflicted on creatures that are already dead and then some of the plague ridden dead things get killed again. I think that Ezekiel might have been on drugs.

  3. 3
    ogremeister

    It’s all the tentacle pr0n.

  4. 4
    Inaji

    guess who gets blocked? American Atheists, and the entirety of Freethoughtblogs.

    Oh lovely. Some peoples need to slapped six ways from Sunday. When I was in the hospital last year, I was ever so thankful there is a secular one (Imma scared of the Catholic hospital), but I still packed my own wireless unit. I’m pretty sure rage is not a plus when you’re in a hospital bed.

  5. 5
    Q.E.D

    A significant difference between the Bible, American Atheist and Freethought blogs is that the latter two are staunchly opposed to misogyny, rape, infanticide, slavery and genocide, all of which are explicitly condoned in the bible.

    What is this children’s hospital (or its rogue IT person) trying to protect children from?

  6. 6
    thetideliar

    The hospital my son was recently born at had Bibles in all the rooms, and scripture quotes framed everywhere in each room. Bloody offensive rubbish, but…it was Baptist Women’s Hospital, that is, I assume, run as a religious affliation NPO, despite their egregious profit margins. I didn’t complain, but i did have fun with Hospital Pastor when she came by and gave my son his first bible….

    “he cant read yet, but thanks. This will be handy when we run out of wetwipes to clean shit up”

  7. 7
    Q.E.D

    oh wait in answer to my own question: amidst the atheism, science, skepticism, evidence based everything, pro-LGBT, pro civil rights, pro feminism, secularist, pro-healthcare for all, anti-war conversations we have, we do, occasionally, use naughty words.

    Yeah, totally not safe for sick children.

    Or their parents.

  8. 8
    Moggie

    This reminds me of that library case a while back, and makes me wonder whether this hospital’s filters categorise Native American religion under “alternative spirituality/belief”.

  9. 9
    robro

    I don’t remember Bibles when my wife was in hospital, but her roommate was religious. The woman’s minister, friends, and family were there a lot talking loudly about god over the blaring sleazy TV shows and praying up a storm. Don’t they realize there are other people in the world!? OK, I know the answer to that. Many religious people are tasteless, oblivious, and obnoxious.

  10. 10
    wytchy

    This is obnoxious. As if an atheist wouldn’t want to find their own comfort in a hospital that doesn’t involve a jealous sky fairy.

    I hate that hospital anyway; definitely got Nurse Ratched to wrap up my sister’s broken toe when we went there.

  11. 11
    Hayden

    He reports that there are four bibles in the hospital room

    A bit excessive, but whatever.

    patients can also request copies of the Qur’an, Jewish holy books, or any other religious text they can imagine;

    Good. It’s the job of the hospital to take care of the patient. Even though these books are nonsense, they are nonetheless important to many people. I think it would be a problem if they didn’t do this.

    However, you’ve also put nanny filters on the web, and block access to anything in the category “Alternative Spirituality/Belief”, … guess who gets blocked? American Atheists, and the entirety of Freethoughtblogs.

    Ah, there it is. That’s definitely not cool.

  12. 12
    Sastra

    I’m not surprised that they’re blocking out ‘atheism’ (angry, but not surprised), but I AM a bit surprised that they’re blocking out the entire category of “Alternative Spirituality/Belief.” This no doubt reflects my own background and upbringing in a diverse and fairly liberal area. Religion was pretty relaxed, and as far as most people were concerned it didn’t matter what version of God you believed in as long as you did believe in God — or at least counted yourself as “spiritual” and very impressed by/respectful of “faith.”

    The idea of a hospital — let alone a children’s hospital — trying to prevent someone from finding or seeking spiritual consolation of any kind seems downright bizarre. Oh, I get it: a lot of Christians do NOT think all religions are paths of compassion which lead to the same source (to put it mildly) — but it still seems jarring.

    The part that really pisses me off, though — the refusal to consider atheists or atheism as both a reasonable option or something that a child, teen, or parent might find supportive or interesting or a welcome distraction from the sort of stuff that goes on in a hospital — bothers me not because it’s unexpected, but because it’s all too drearily familiar.

    At least they can’t defend themselves by pointing out that they welcome ALL beliefs so atheism is forbidden because it’s not as welcoming as they are.

  13. 13
    Hayden

    Ooooooops. Didn’t realize the “q” tag made the quoted text go full retard. That will teach me to preview.

  14. 14
    Nick Gotts

    Did you know that you can deal with a mouse infestation by making little golden mice as a sin offering to the Lord? – stonyground

    Well? Have you tried it, Mr. Clever-Clogs? ;-)

  15. 15
    Hayden

    I AM a bit surprised that they’re blocking out the entire category of “Alternative Spirituality/Belief.”

    That’s probably one of the default categories available as part of the web filtering software. The point is that the hospital gets to choose what does and does not go in this category. They’ve chosen to put atheism in that category.

  16. 16
    Hayden

    @KG

    I sure have, and there are no mice in my house! Proof it works! Just like how our airport security keeps us safe from terrorists!!!

  17. 17
    Inaji

    Hayden:

    Didn’t realize the “q” tag made the quoted text go full retard. That will teach me to preview.

    You might want to stop using ableist slurs, too. They’re frowned on around here.

  18. 18
    toth

    Chances are, those are the default settings on whatever nannyware they have installed. These objections pop up all the time on Reddit. I suspect that the IT goons simply haven’t bothered to go through and uncheck that box.

  19. 19
    toth

    @17: “ableist slurs”

    …What?

  20. 20
    echidna

    toth:

    @17: “ableist slurs”

    …What?

    It’s really bad form to use words that reflect characteristics of a population as insults. I’m sure you are familiar with race and gender-based slurs. In the same vein, there are ableist slurs – like cripple, retard and spastic. All of these slurs take characteristics of maligned sections of the community, and by using them as insults, further marginalise already marginalised people.

  21. 21
    greenhome

    I emailed the hospital to complain about this, with a link back to this post.

  22. 22
    elftao

    This is a bummer, because Columbus is actually a pretty progressive city, but this makes us look like the cowtown most people think we are. Hope they get that fixed up.

  23. 23
    DLC

    “excuse me, nurse, but my religion demands I have full unrestricted access to the internet . . . “

  24. 24
    gardengnome

    Just in case you weren’t miserable enough being in a hospital in the first place! Actually the bibles would be useful – rather stand on them than on the cold floor when you go for a pee.

  25. 25
    alisonstreight

    This a censorship, pure and simple. I don’t know about this children’s hospital, but the one I am familiar with has patients up to about 17 years old. Limiting access to totally benign sites, while allowing access to ones that can be quite toxic is just awful.

    It has been my experience that the clergy in hospitals can be quite insensitive in ignoring the information on a patient’s admissions form. My form said atheist for religion, yet I was visited by the chaplain while recovering from near death. A strange man in a tweedy jacket appeared in my room, and in response to my, “who are you and what are you doing here?” identified himself as the chaplain. Even though I was extremely weak, outrage made me quite rude and I ordered him to get out. He left in a hurry and I hope he has learned his lesson and now respects the wishes of individual patients. Bibles can accidentally find their way into the waste basket. Oops!

  26. 26
    harbo

    The mere existence of children’s hospitals, was one of the first triggers in my lack of belief.

    Where in “the Plan” does the suffering of the innocent have purchase?

  27. 27
    Inaji

    harbo:

    Where in “the Plan” does the suffering of the innocent have purchase?

    Oh, even the baybees has sin. Blame it all on Eve.

  28. 28
    kellismith

    Yeah, that’s pretty bad. I’m in CBus, so I’m happy to do some yelling too.

  29. 29
    scottplumer

    “Columbus is actually a pretty progressive city”

    Since when?!?!?!?

    I think someone needs to request the Book of the SubGenius.

  30. 30
    rorschach

    Excuse me if I have missed something, but what are bibles, or any religious pamphlets for that matter, doing in a Children‘s hospital ?

  31. 31
    scifi the first (formerly scifi1)

    rorschach –

    Presumably so that the parents can look through these vile tomes for the answers as to why their children are lying there sick, injured or dying.

    It’s all about the solace, isn’t it?

    Can anyone say “cognitive dissonance?’

  32. 32
    maturin

    @2: Quick – get this information to Tesco. Their flagship store has been overrun by mice, apparently because they donated £30,000 to London Gay Pride.

    http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/?p=2991

  33. 33
    barbyau

    Actually that seems about right. This is the year that hospitals and health care became religious institutions. And since they are way more profitable than ordinary churches, I’m sure the push for tax free health care/religious institutions will be soon to follow.

    If you break down religion, it is very hard not to see how the people pushing it do so for profit and power. And people are so addle-minded they don’t distrust that at all.

  34. 34
    lorence

    “Stupid Hospital”?

    I THINK NOT.

    Dr Myers, I admire you greatly, but that statement offends me.
    I’ve proudly worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for nearly 24 years and it is indeed a fabulous place – please do not disparage the amazing works done there by pointing to one particular incidental that you think is wrong.
    I’m a raving atheist, just as many of you here are, and yes, they have a pastoral care staff, just as all American hospitals do, and yes, they have a ‘chapel’, a multi-denominational place to be for those that wish to be there, just as all American hospitals do – it’s just down the hall from one of my offices, rather nice looking, but I can honestly say that in the 5 years that it’s been there (new building) I can say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a few people total ever in there. I’m sure more use it than that, but that’s their right. For me, I think it’s a dumb thing to do, I personally would instead be checking the qualifications of the physician and nursing staff, the lab, radiology, pharmacy, etc, staff (all of whom are highly qualified – it truly is one of the BEST medical institutions in the country!) rather than begging some magical being to heal my child (why would that magical being allow them to be so ill in the first place?), but people seek what they do, especially when they’re stressed. That environment is an inappropriate one to preach against religion, especially to stressed parents. Instead, we are kind to them, provide them with the information they need and the tools to get through what they are going through. Another consideration in that respect (and it is all about respect, for the patient, for the parents and family) is that we have a diverse patient population even when it comes to religions. We have the second largest Somali population in the US, a very large Amish and Mennonite population (we’re not far from Ohio’s Amish country); we serve southern and south western Ohio (aka, Appalachia), and other rural areas that tend to be deeply religious. Most importantly, we not in the faith business, we’re inthe healing business, and for many many of those we serve, their religion is part of that. In my view, it’s no more than a service provided, like the cafeteria – many choices if you want, but I mostly brown bag…

    As for the statement “Columbus is actually a pretty progressive city” – this is a very true statement – Columbus is known for its diversity & tolerance, and I can say that is especially true of this hospital. The top management go to great effort to be inclusive of all, regardless of ethnicity, or orientation, both as an employer and healthcare provider. This is evident in their mission, providing care for all regardless of the ability to pay.

    As for blocking the freethoughtblogs site, I don’t know about the guest network, but I DO know that the employee access is definitely NOT blocked – I can check pharyngula as policy allows, access to scienceblogs.com, FtB, or any other ‘atheist’ site is not blocked, nor should it be.
    Lately the many in the atheist community have been trying hard to demonstrate that were not haters, that we’re kind considerate and generally behave better than the zealous religious masses out there (% of religious prisoners vs atheists, etc…), but many of the comments above aren’t showing that. We’re supposed to be skeptics – that means getting the facts before tossing about condemnation and pith. I suggest adhering to those principles.

    And toth nay be correct, these may indeed be default setting (My IT friends will be amused by the “Rogue” reference – way too many committees for that to be true!). I can certainly bring this up to the IT people as well, these are not trivial matters for a Hospital that has the history of positive diversity that NCH has.

  35. 35
    Inaji

    lorence:

    That environment is an inappropriate one to preach against religion, especially to stressed parents.

    Not one person said a word about “preaching against religion”. How about that wonderful hospital of yours stops fucking pushing it? Four bibles per room? Golly gee, seems like someone sure is shoving religion down tired and ill throats, eh?

    As for what access employees have, what does that have to do with anything? The point of the post is that you have at least one very unhappy and irritated parent of a patient, who is finding themself and their child drowning in religious crap, while there is not only no accommodation for those who are happily secular, they aren’t allowed to access websites which seem to have been deemed evil and stuff.

    Instead of showing up here to screech about “hey, we shouldn’t be haters!”, why don’t you go around that hospital you love so much and asking all the uber-religious to stop their hatin’?

    Jesus fuckin’ Christ, it really shouldn’t be all that much to expect being able to surf the net without having some chucklefucker decide that atheists are the evil, let alone having the default be godbooks all over the damn place.

  36. 36
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    lorence

    As for blocking the freethoughtblogs site, I don’t know about the guest network

    that means getting the facts before tossing about condemnation and pith

    Well, how’s about you check the former for the facts, before deploying the latter, eh?

  37. 37
    lorence

    Daz, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I will look into it get the facts about what is blocked and why and actually do something about it rather than tossing epithets as other seem wont to do. My hope is also that the people complaining didn’t just toss their complaint at PZ, but also let the administration know. Unlike most of corporate America, they’re responsive. I also hope that they completed the surveys that they were sent after their visit.
    That’s how issues get resolved – let those that can work on the problem know that the problem exists instead of just ranting at others that don’t have direct influence.
    I’m not posting here to pick fights, I just want to stand up for the institution that I know has done so much good. So there’s something that seems wrong – The way to get it fixed is to bring it to their attention in an appropriate manner. I’m not going to go barging in on the CIO screaming and raving; rather I will pursue this issue civilly and professionally. I don’t know what unit or clinic PZ’s letter writer was on, don’t know where or when, or even if it was at the main hospital, so I’m short on facts, but I’ll do my best as far as getting sites unblocked. As far as bibles in rooms go, that’s pretty standard fare in hospitals across the US and in this age of unfortunate religiosity, that’s unlikely to change. The best a non-religious family can do is exactly what they would do in a hotel stocked room with bibles- ignore them or if they’re presence is that offensive, ask that they be removed.
    BTW, this hospital is an independent not for profit hospital. Ti is not part of any for profit corporate hospital structures.

  38. 38
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    lorence

    I must admit, I find your attitude odd. Neither the OP nor any of the comments make the blanket condemnation of the hospital that you seem to feel they do. The condemnation is aimed at one aspect; the censoring of atheist-related internet content. You took one hyperbolic statement, ‘stupid hospital’, which was clearly meant in relation only to that censoring, and proceeded to treat it as if PZ was condemning every practice of the hospital, from surgery to floor-cleaning. In so doing, you make yourself guilty of the exact over-reaction that you accuse commenters here of making.

    Perspective. You need some.

  39. 39
    DanDare

    This is the main reason I am so strongly opposed to the internet filter the government keeps trying to impose here in Australia. You can bet that kind of censorship will occur, no matter how much the government says it wont happen.

  40. 40
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    I suspect you’ve got some pious goon in your IT department.

    The point is that the hospital gets to choose what does and does not go in this category. They’ve chosen to put atheism in that category.

    Possibly not: the categorisation is probably outsourced to a service provider (the same thing happened at work; exact same message).

    The usual model is to block centrally, and unblock on demand, so look for a “request access” link on the page somewhere.

    (And maybe rant at Websense or whoever instead. I certainly wouldn’t expect a beleaguered hospital IT person to proactively untick boxes for everything on the internet that has been mis-classified.)

  41. 41
    SQB

    “he cant read yet, but thanks. This will be handy when we run out of wetwipes to clean shit up”

    You said that? Awesome!

  42. 42
    Inaji

    I am so very grateful that when I was in hospital last year, there were no holy books of myths anywhere to be seen, that I had no clue where a chapel was and that staff took me at my word that yes, I’m an atheist and no religious a/o spiritual type wandered in to bother me. I never did check their internet though, having my own wireless with me. Well, if I ever end up there again, I’ll investigate.

  43. 43
    benedic

    Suggest a patient asks them to buy the 4 complete runs of the 200+ volumes of the Pali Canon

  44. 44
    Aquaria

    Lately the many in the atheist community have been trying hard to demonstrate that were not haters, that we’re kind considerate and generally behave better than the zealous religious masses out there (% of religious prisoners vs atheists, etc…), but many of the comments above aren’t showing that.

    Oh shut up. You’re resorting to the Spock fallacy.

    Last I knew, we’ve been saying that we’re human beings, too, and deserve respect for that. We never, ever said that we were unemotional logic-robots. That’s only something religious scum try to accuse of us.

    So fuck you very much. Atheists can be passionate and have strong likes and dislikes as much as anyone else. It’s part of being human.

    We’re supposed to be skeptics

    You first.

    We are skeptics. That means we concentrate on the issue at hand. Nobody here said one fucking word about any other aspect about the care of the hospital–only about the religion being shoved on patients via the Internet and the scumbag genocide manuals shoved in every corner of hospital rooms, apparently.

    You made us sit through long-winded paragraphs of irrational, illogical and hyperemotional screeching, sniveling and run-on sentences about something that wasn’t even mentioned. To add insult to injury, when you finally got down off your sniveler high horse to get around to the only point PZ made, you spent maybe two sentences addressing it before you went on the attack of atheists, like the passive-aggressive sniveling moron you obviously are.

    We don’t need you dictating our behavior to us. Nearly all of us here are adults, so we don’t need a passive-aggressive parent trying to tell us what to do. I have one of those, thanks. I don’t need it from a completely moron stranger like you, too.

    So fuck off.

    that means getting the facts before tossing about condemnation and pith.

    You first, you sniveling fuckface. We got a report from a patient that it is going on. Why don’t you investigate whether or not that’s going on to the patients before you assume it isn’t?

    And you want to dictate skepticism to us?

    I suggest adhering to those principles.

    I don’t need advice from someone who is too blinded from their tribal loyalty to a workplace to think rationally.

    So shut up. you sniveling tribalist nitwit.

  45. 45
    Sandiseattle

    Seeing that it is a childrens hospital, I can imagine that FTB might have some child inappropriate content from time to time. Some farely ‘adult’ themes get posted about here. Not that I’m for censoring, I’m emphatically not. Not sure what (if anything) would fall in to that catagory on American Atheist tho’. Question: how many children read FTB? Readership survey anyone?

  46. 46
    stuartvo

    “We’re supposed to be skeptics”

    Doesn’t that phrase appear on a bingo square? Maybe on the “disingenuous passive-aggressive critic” card?

    It’s right up there with the many variants of “you’re not helping” and it irritates the ever-loving fuck out of me. :-(

  47. 47
    Inaji

    Stuartvo:

    “We’re supposed to be skeptics”

    I’ve come to loathe that line as well. Especially when it’s issued by an idiot who hasn’t even bothered to verify patient access, after all, he has employee access, so hey, what’s the fuss?

  48. 48
    stuartvo

    I think it’s one of those phrases that doesn’t mean what we think it means*

    Maybe what it really means is “The only proper sceptics** are the ones that think exactly the same as I do.”

    *As Inigo Montoya would say

    **And what is the proper spelling of “sceptic”, anyway? My “Swype” keyboard is adamant that it’s with a “c” not a “k”

  49. 49
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    stuartvo

    Skeptics is the US spelling, and sceptics the UK. Not sure about other variants, but I’d guess most Commonwealth countries would go with the UK version.

  50. 50
    csmiller

    Skeptics is the US spelling, and sceptics the UK. Not sure about other variants, but I’d guess most Commonwealth countries would go with the UK version.

    However, the UK’s Skeptics in the Pub movement is spelt with a ‘k’, as it was founded by Dr. Scott Campbell an UK-resident Aussie, and it is spelt with a ‘k’ in Australia.

    As for lorence not checking the patient/visitor WiFI blocks, perhaps ze was posting from home (or was at work, but didn’t have a wifi device with zim), and never having to use the public wifi, couldn’t comment on it. Ze did say that ze would check at the next opportunity ze had.

  51. 51
    lorence

    csmiller, you are completely correct – I’ve not had need to use the public wifi nor have I had a wifi device to even use it with until recently (just this got a Kindle Fire a couple of weeks ago).
    I’ve tested the access using the Kindle. Access to many atheist sites, including FtB are indeed blocked. I will now attempt to speak to those that maintain the websense app to have this corrected.

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