Lunch can be a refreshing change of pace from many other opinion sites that display thoughtless comment posts in which invectives are hurled at both sides of an issue.
That being said, I don't think the discussion about Google and China should be so trite. I can't believe that some would use this as an opportunity to engage in cultural relativism, and compare the West's long history of violence with China's current predicament. It would seem that many China apologists believe they can list any example of the West’s violent history in order to absolve China of any wrongdoing, no matter how insidious.
Rhetorical gamesmanship used to work better when China was not very powerful. But that is no longer the case. China will soon pass Japan as the world 2nd largest economy. The time for pretending China should not be held to the same human right’s standards as the rest of the world are long gone.
The only reason why more countries and more companies do not publicly chastise China, as Google as done, is purely because of money. That is the only reason. China represents the largest untapped foreign market and the largest potential for corporate growth. But it takes a very cynical person to worry about what Google’s shareholders will think while Google is making a principled stand for freedom of speech.
Really? What will the shareholders think?? If that argument doesn’t fully reveal that this version of capitalism is completely morally bankrupt, I don’t know what does.
What would the shareholders think if a company pollutes and poisons the drinking water of a nearby town? What would the shareholders think if the company was to stop creating such lucrative, but dangerous products because the risk to children was too great?
What would the shareholders think if the company, after submitting to years of heavy-handed government-directed censorship, after discovering a massive cyber-attack on their proprietary servers, after finding out that the hackers were trying to uncover political dissidents, after determining that the only “laws” this government follows are the “laws” that it fabricates in order to consolidate its unquestioned power, that this company were to suddenly develop a conscience and want to review its complicity with censorship?
The shareholders might not care. But that is not the point. The citizens of a government should care. And not just the citizens of the government who are allowed internet access to spin censorship issues in the government’s favor.
The United States has had a long and difficult relationship with free speech. It wasn’t always so clear how the government, and the government’s most fierce apologists, felt about it. But by and large, free speech is favored by the minority (or the powerless) and feared by the majority (or powerful). And typically, any restrictions on free speech are created to stifle an open discussion on an issue. Oppressive governments will argue that censorship will keep the general populace safe because the government would only censor material that would be harmful, right?
Opinions like that are dangerously naïve or capriciously cynical. Either way, the whole point of free speech is that sometimes you’ll hear something you disagree with; and that’s often a good thing, because then someone won’t be able to stop you from speaking when they disagree with you.
I'm sure my email will be hacked by tomorrow.
What did you think of this review?