Ethics is hard, and stuff
Google, owners of Blogger, are apparently refusing to take down blogs run by some Australian and New Zealand neo-Nazi groups, despite getting numerous complaints about them. Google apparently is trying to defend the neo-Nazis’ rights to free speech. Of course, it’s well known that Google does censor or remove the blogs of Chinese citizens if the Chinese government tells them they have to. So what is the right thing for Google to do here?
On the one hand, you have the situation with China. If Google wants to let any Chinese citizens at all have access to their services, they have to play ball with the government there and censor things. Google is, one might argue, supporting a totalitarian government in oppressing their people by doing this (and not Google alone – MSN, Yahoo, and many others do the same). But isn’t letting them have some access to these services better than none at all? Or is that a company cop-out to let them try to make more money off the Chinese?
On the other side, you have the Down Under neo-Nazis. Clearly, they spread hate speech and what most any sane person recognizes as an evil ideology. But they live in countries that have free speech. Taking away that right is, most would agree, ethically wrong. Once you take free speech away from one person or group, what is to stop you from taking it away from others? Free speech exists as an ideal to give voice and power to the minority, to help keep them from being oppressed. It’s a slippery slope there.
Other companies have removed blogs and sites run by neo-Nazis. As private companies offering a service, it is their right (and Google’s, as well), but it is also their right not to do that. Google can certainly claim that they are sticking up for the free speech rights of those who already have them, and obeying the law when they deal with those that don’t. But what is the right thing for them to do?
So, what I’ve learned from thinking this over:
1. Ethics sucks ass.
2. The Chinese government and neo-Nazis should all die in a fire.