Why the silence on Google’s actions?

There has been surprisingly little reaction to The Examiner’s revelation last week that Google censored two political adscritical of MoveOn.org. Nothing is so fundamental in a republican democracy as freedom of speech and thought, yet the reaction among folks who normally go ballistic over the slightest restraint on political speech is strangely mute.

Here are the facts: Lance Dutson, a Maine blogger working for the re-election campaign of Sen. Susan Collins, placed two political ads on Google on behalf of the Maine Republican.

The pro-Collins ads were critical of MoveOn.org’s recent “General Betray Us” insertion in The New York Times and claimed MoveOn.org was targeting Collins for defeat. Shortly thereafter, the ads disappeared, and Dutson was told by a Google representative that they were removed because they violated MoveOn.org’s trademark.

Then last week, The Examiner published an Op-Ed by Robert Cox, a member of the newspaper’s blogger board, that questioned why Google would suppress an ad at the apparent request of MoveOn.org, yet allow ads critical of corporations such as ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart and Microsoft. The Cox Op-Ed was linked to by the Drudge Report, Instapundit, Slashdot and Michelle Malkin among online media, and by Fox News on cable.

Google claims its policy is to stay out of trademark disputes by removing any ad that is judged by the trademark holder to be a violation. Aside from questions about ideological bias or inconsistency in how Google enforces its policy, a more fundamental issue is at stake here — enabling abuse of a commercial trademark as a means of squelching dissident political speech.

On its face, a policy that allows censorship of political speech critical of the trademark holder is a violation of the First Amendment. If Google maintains this policy, it will be handing a powerful tool for crushing dissent not only to political groups such as MoveOn.org but to every corporation with a trademarked name.

Where are the big guns of the left side of the blogosphere? Perhaps we missed it, but we can find nothing about this controversy on Daily Kos, Eschaton or Talking Points Memo. One has to wonder if they aren’t upset because it’s a moderate Republican targeted by the Netroots for defeat who is being suppressed.

Or perhaps there is fear of angering the Internet giant.

As for the righties, how long before they realize protecting freedom of speech must always be a top priority for them because many of their opponents have little hesitation about using any means necessary to silence them.

General OpinionOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Thousands flood Mission District for youth-led George Floyd protest

As civil unrest over the killing of George Floyd continued Wednesday in… Continue reading

Breed closes nearly $250M budget deficit in current fiscal year

Cuts include street repaving, firefighting hose tender trucks, childcare subsidies

DA drops charges against man seen in video of officer using knee restraint

Footage leads to calls for SF police to explicity ban move used in death of George Floyd

SF federal appeals court overturns U.S. EPA approval of herbicide made by Monsanto

The fact that the Trump EPA approved these uses of dicamba highlights how tightly the pesticide industry controls EPA’s pesticide-approval process.

SF mayor to end curfew after Wednesday night

Breed: ‘We know that the overwhelming majority of people out protesting are doing so peacefully’

Most Read