Oh yes, the Brethren. The flurry of media attention may have passed, but let’s not take our eye off them as the next election approaches.
Let me tell you about my experience with the Brethren.
They might refuse to use computers, but their stupid, bullying special pleading has certainly provided employment for many a computer specialist. Like the ones in my department at the Steve Irwin Memorial Dogs Home.
We often communicate with the dog-owners and cat-owners using bulk mailouts. Think of your gas bill – a basic printed item with tailored and personalised information appearing on it for your household. We do the same thing, and we include lots of information – Breed, type, tail length, desexed or not, how many spots, level trained to, vaccinations what and when, and so on.
Some years back a delegation of white-shirted Brethren met with the Dogs Home management and demanded that they be specially flagged in the Dogs Home database. Because, you know, once in a while a mailout might contain a voting form. Which would mean they were yoked with unbelievers. You know, dirty people like you and me. Horror! “Just tell ’em to chuck them in the bin,” I grumbled, but of course it wasn’t up to me.
So the entire Steve Irwin Memorial Dogs Home database had to be changed, applications re coded and all changes tested to allow for the Exclusive Brethren’s records to be hived off from everyone else’s.
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it was a lengthy exercise, with impacts far and wide in the organisation, and representing weeks of work. The printing company we use for the mailouts had to come to the party too. Even for a small organisation like ours, it would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So they may avoid using computers, but they sure as hell contribute to the whirring of hard drives across the nation.
And how dare John Howard dismiss everyone’s legitimate concerns about them so lightly? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the their support for his reelection, would it? We all know what his attitude would be if it were a sect of Middle Eastern Appearance evading taxes, refusing to vote and secretly lobbying on various pieces of legislation, as well as trying to dictate how “independent” companies and organisations conduct their business.