Thursday, January 14, 2010

Google is afraid of offending Islam?

Check out the link to the YouTube video above. I have always been a huge fan of Google (who isn't, really?) but this really put me off.

When you start typing anything into Google, automatic search suggestions come up based on popular searches that others have made. If you type in "Christianity is," you get a lot of automatic suggestions like "a religion," "bullshit," "a cult," etc. In fact, you get very similar results if you type in "Judaism is", "Hinduism is," "Scientology is" -- hell, any religion you can think of.

BUT if you type "Islam is" you get... wait for it... NOTHING. Nothing comes up!

In my mind, there are a couple of things at work here. First off, Google needs to grow a pair and treat Islam the way it treats every other religion. But beneath the surface, there is a larger issue at work. Why are people so afraid of offending Islam? Why do we tiptoe around behind the shield of political correctness, terrified that Muslims might get their feelings hurt. I think there are two reasons for this:

Reason 1: I might be wrong, but I think that a lot of people in the west have a little bit of a guilty conscience when it comes to Muslims. Maybe people feel like it counterbalances the automatic association with terrorism, racial profiling at the airports, and the majority of people's inability to discern between the average Muslim and a fundamentalist suicide bomber.

Reason 2: Religions are criticized constantly, and rightly so. But no other religion reacts to criticism the way that Islam does. You have the threats, the violence, and the lives lost over incidents that are often so trivial. You have "anti-blasphemy" resolutions passing through the UN that aim to put an end to the "defamation of religion" so that Muslims won't ever be offended, but really amount to the end of free speech. You have the non-fundamentalist Muslims claiming to object to all this, yet remaining silent time and time again when they should be shouting from the rooftops that they are not represented by these violent extremists. People of other faiths don't enjoy being criticized, I imagine; yet, I've never seen a Christian kill people because she didn't like the way that Jesus was depicted in a cartoon and I've never seen a Jew blow himself up because he felt his religion had been insulted.

Don't get me wrong here -- I am not a particular fan of any religion, and I do not have an inherent prejudice against Islam. But if even something as big as Google is afraid of pissing you off, you know you've got to be pretty scary. This obsession with being politically correct all the time is hurting our society by legitimizing the threats that already have too much power. Come on, Google! Do what's right! Next time I search "Islam is," I want to see the right words come up on my screen.

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