We don’t have to — we’re Google!

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) plays an essential role in debunking Hamas’ and Fatah’s claims to moderation or even legitimacy.

By monitoring, translating and giving exposure to the vicious antisemitic rantings that appear in Palestinian Arab media, especially TV, PMW makes it impossible for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to hide who and what they are.

Now, in an Orwellian fashion, Google’s YouTube has removed PMW’s main video channel — Palwatch — because it allegedly violates terms of service with respect to hate speech!

This is what you will see if you try to access Palwatch videos like “PA cleric: Kill Jews, Allah will make Muslims masters over Jews” formerly at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjuDTO8fgqM, or “Hamas suicide terrorist farewell video: Palestinians drink the blood of Jews” formerly at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSftYIGH6-w:

Sorry indeed! As a former teacher of logic, let me point out that YouTube is committing the classic fallacy of confusing the use of a linguistic entity with its mention. In other words, Palwatch is not engaging in hate speech — rather it is describing it and in fact advocating against it.

If YouTube or its parent Google really wanted to help reduce the incidence of hate speech in the world, they would promote Palwatch’s exposure and shaming of those who use this kind of hateful propaganda to attack others.

The inversion of ethical guidelines to punish the victim rather than the perpetrator is apparently popular today. This case is remarkably similar to the recent IRS ruling that a pro-Israel group seeking tax-exempt status must be vetted by special criteria because “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of  terrorism.'”

There is another problem, and this is the self-service model adopted by YouTube and Google. These media — I don’t know if ‘medium’ is the right description for Google, but it’s the only word I can think of — are hugely powerful. They can make or break a commercial enterprise, a nonprofit, or perhaps even a country. Yet their terms of service state that users have no rights of any kind, especially the right to contact a human being when they feel that they have been treated improperly.

As of today, Itamar Marcus of Palwatch has been unable to find an email address to complain to YouTube.

Not that an email address is likely to help. This blog has an unresolved problem that Google’s Blog Search stopped indexing it in August 2009, although posts appear in the normal web search. I’ve re-submitted it, requested ‘reconsideration’ (although from what I don’t know), read pages of ‘help’ and forums, and sent emails to every address I could find.  I have never received an answer, and short of showing up at their headquarters driving a tank, I’ve run out of ideas.

It’s reminiscent of the famous Laugh-in skit featuring Lily Tomlin:

We don't have to -- we're Google!

We don't have to -- we're Google!

Update [1933 PST]: Some or all of the videos — including the ones I’ve linked to above are available again! This issue was mentioned in many blogs and other media — perhaps someone noticed?  Let’s hope they all come back, permanently.

Update [2041 PST]: Lily Tomlin played telephone operator Ernestine on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in (1969), not Saturday Night Live. Memory is s broken reed.

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