Popping the Gubble

Glenn Reynolds wonders whether Google has peaked. Hard to say. It has the clear advantage of weight. But that’s not the point, really. It’s that not that it is big, it can disappoint many by its actions — in China, regarding news sources, and so on. Can a giant still be loved?

: And the related discussion about Yahoo in China continues. See more on Fred Wilson’s blog. And Michael Parekh objects to the tone of that discussion in the comments here. He says:

It’s when commenters like “Christian” on Jeff Jarvis’s post get personal as in this comment on Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel shows:

“Bottom line is Terry Semel is a plain fool.”

Utterly irresponsible and uncalled for comment, in my opinion.

If you’re going to have a debate, do so on the merits or de-merits of the issue. The moment the discourse slips into personal insults, the referee should call the player off the field.

For the record, I think it’s meaningless to rant about select internet companies’ behavior in places like China without thinking about the global context of these issues.

To complain about what Yahoo! and Google are doing there misses the larger point of what ALL multi-nationals from ALL countries doing business in China are doing to compete and succeed for their shareholders.

To pick one or two companies out for complaint seems grossly unfair and besides the point.

In my humble view companies like Yahoo! and Google have done noting wrong, and in fact are doing ALL the people of China a world of good by making better information and communications tools available.

They should be applauded.

I replied:

With all due respect, I think it is just as unproductive to dismiss the discussion as “meaningless” it is to dismiss Semel as a “plain fool.”

The important question here is about limits. Are there limits to what a company should do following the laws of the dictatorship in China? That is what we are trying to figure out. That is an important discussion to have.

So it’s legitimate, I think, to try to find that out via other examples. Would you say it’s OK for a company to have done business in apartheid South Africa, for example? Is it OK for a company to hand over users for exercising what all civilized nations recogize as the human right of free speech if that speech violates the propagandistic stranglehold of a dictatorship?

Just because other companies do it, that doesn’t make it OK, I’m sure you’d agree.

Let us, indeed, have this discussion on the merits.

  • Reynolds’ only reason to attack Google is because they removed some conservative hate sites (unless you think legit news sites should refer to muslim people as subhuman?). I wonder when he and folks like yourself will understand that simply saying “Google has peaked” doesn’t simply make it so!

  • Yeah, Oliver. It’s not like I’ve ever cared about the China censorship issue or anything. Please grow up. Soon.

  • What the hell would Glenn Reynolds know about Google? He’s a right-wing political commentator – not a media analyst. He may as well wonder about whether the moon has peaked.

  • APF

    Interesting that a post re: attacking arguments via the merits, rather than via ad hominem or appeal to ridicule, has elicited the above comments.

  • Yet, Glenn, there was no discussion of whether Google had peaked then. Ban “Muslims Are Evil Daily”? Reynolds: “Google has peaked”. I think I’m not the one who needs to grow up.

  • steve

    yes there are, and must be, limits.

    were the shipbuilders supplying vessels to slave traders simply trying “to compete and succeed for their shareholders”? Were the slave traders themselves simply capitalists, leveraging a market opportunity?

    Say what you will about our military presence in Iraq, but it certainly does prove that sanctions can work — there were no WMDs right? Despite that we all know Saddam had WMDs in the past (SCUDs shot into Israel, mustard gas killed 100,000s of Kurds, etc.)

    And historians may dispute whether Thatcher or Reagan or whoever deserves any credit, but the west’s hard line towards the Soviet Union definitely contributed to its isolation, deterioration and ultimate complete demise.

    Arguably the rotten-to-the-core Chinese regime has only lasted this long because they disguised themselves as capitalists and we were only too eager to peddle our goods and services to them, effectively robbing us, perhaps permanently, of the cold-war approach which did in the Soviets. And we should never, never forget the tens of millions who have been brutalized and massacred by the Mao-ist regime, and the millions who continue to be brutalized today. Selling a hundred million cel phones doesn’t make their tortured souls rest easier.

  • APF

    Oliver, do you have an opinion of Google outside of your obnoxious allegations of Glenn Reynolds’ personal bigotry? Or are you just acting as opportunistic hit man, armed with massive red herrings and no actual argument of worth?

  • *The important question here is about limits.*

    I haven’t been following the Chinese issue very closely lately; I’ve been more occupied with other issues elsewhere. But I am very troubled about hearing that some young fellow is in prison because of one of the American companies like yahoo or google. Being in prison is bad enough, but talking about limits– what if he is having his internal organs “harvested” as part of his penalty… like maybe having a kidney removed or some other organ? I understand the ChiComs have been known to do this.

    Does it bother anyone that he could be subjected to a living vivisection? And that it would be the result of some American company informing on him???

  • Allegations? Facts are allegations now? I think it was pretty lame Google bent over for China, but completely agree with them removing the “We Hate A-Rabs” webzines.

  • Being in prison is bad enough, but talking about limits– what if he is having his internal organs “harvested” as part of his penalty… like maybe having a kidney removed or some other organ?

    As far as I know, and I’ve been following developments in China for several years, this has never been alleged. There have been allegations that they harvest the organs of executed prisoners, but not the still-living.