Google Publicly Apologizes for Insult to Christians Worldwide
by Judy Kent
Mountain View, CA / Washington, DC - At Thursday's annual meeting of Google shareholders in Mountain View, California, National Center for Public Policy Research Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. asked Google's leadership to explain the company's decisions to ban gun sales from Google Shopping and its decision to honor left-wing union organizer Cesar Chavez with a Google Doodle on Easter Sunday.
The exchanges can be viewed on YouTube at http://youtu.be/K5kwaMzMm60
In response to whether the gun restriction was intentionally contemporaneous with President Obama's push for more restrictive gun laws, Google senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond said Google was merely extending its previous policy banning gun advertisements to the new Google Shopping platform, noting "we have not allowed gun ads since almost the inception of our programs... so we've taken a position that it is best for Google [not to advertise guns] and that's been our view, and we've been consistent... so I can assure you that it is a longstanding view that we've had, not any kind of a recent public policy [statement]."
Danhof also asked Google's executive team about the company's decision to honor labor icon Cesar Chavez this past Easter Sunday, concluding, "from a business point of view, what went into the company's thinking in making this decision, and what did the company gain from unnecessarily offending so many customers?"
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt responded with a sincere apology to all Christians who took offense to the company's decision. Schmidt said that it was never the company's intent to insult Christians or their faith, saying in part, "...there was no intent to slight anyone... there was certainly no intent, and if there was offense, it was certainly not intended and I do apologize." Google CEO and Co-Founder Larry Page then endorsed Schmidt's apology.
"While I am thankful for Schmidt's apology, this is a situation that never should have occurred," said Danhof. "Chavez is a divisive figure who draws out strong emotions; I hope the company learns from this mistake."
"Cesar Chavez is an iconic figure among leftists and 'Chicano' activists, a man whose life has become shrouded in political mythology," notes Project 21's Joe Hicks. "As a doctrinaire Marxist during the 1970s, I often crossed paths with Chavez and trained with many of his United Farm Worker organizers in 'revolutionary theory' classes. Despite today's depictions of him as a man of peace and nonviolence, the tactics used by UFW organizers against resistant field workers often included intimidation, threats and violence. Even among the farm workers Chavez claimed to represent, his leadership was viewed as controversial. When examined closely, a darker side of Chavez and his movement emerges."
In 2007, Hicks testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands concerning H.R. 359, "The Cesar Estrada Chavez Study Act," where Hicks explained that Chavez was "a labor leader that presided over an organization that harbored deep hostility and resentment about the American nation."
After learning about Google's decision to honor Chavez on Easter, Project 21's Bishop Council Nedd, the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church, said, "I now will much prefer to receive the points from Bing Rewards in the future rather than dealing with a company that clearly seems to have gone out of its way to be offensive to Christians on the most important day on the Christian calendar."
"Easter is a sacred day during which Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Google's management showed extreme callousness in their decision to honor a leftist icon on this holy day," said Danhof. "I am not suggesting that Google choose a religious affiliation, but Google's decision to honor a socialist ideologue on the day of Christianity's most sacred celebration is unconscionable."
Justin Danhof also was critical of the company's gun restrictions following the meeting. "Hypocrisy, thy name is Google," said Danhof. "Google's 'Freedom of Expression' proclaims that the company has 'pressed governments to make combating Internet censorship a top priority in human rights and economic agendas,' yet the company is using its Internet market power to censor searches in an active effort to limit Second Amendment rights. More than just a Constitutional guarantee, the Second Amendment allows Americans to protect themselves and their families from harm. According to Gary Kleck, a highly respected criminologist at Florida State University, Americans use guns in self-defense more than two million times per year."
In May 2012, Google announced that it would begin censoring guns, gun parts, ammunition and other weapons from its Google Shopping platform. Read more about Google's weapons policy here.
"I respect Google's consistency in policy, but the policy doesn't align with good business practices," said Danhof. "If you want to end the life of your child by aborting him, Google will show you the closest abortion clinic. If you want to purchase the most violent video games and movies available, Google will help you comparison shop and find the best price. But if you want to purchase a firearm to protect your family, Google has no use for you."
"Google's decision is also highly hypocritical since its Shopping platform remains a bastion of violent and gruesome video games off of which Google profits. From Manhunt, where Google's description explains, "[p]layers can fight back with hand-to-hand moves, guns, or perform stealth kills using such items as meat cleavers, plastic bags, and hammers to slice, suffocate, and bludgeon enemies," to God of War: Ascension, where players engage in "another blood-soaked adventure full of grand vistas, environmental puzzles, [and] brutal hack-and-slash combat," violence and perversion are in full supply on Google Shopping," added Danhof.
"Google's policy of infringing the Second Amendment aligns with the White House's current anti-gun posture. Google executive Chairman Eric Schmidt worked closely with President Barack Obama's political team during the last election and was even in the campaign's 'boiler room' on election night," noted Danhof. "But Google's most recent ant-gun policy is apparently an extension of previous company policy, not a concerted effort with the White House."
"Google's decision is not only hypocritical, it is bad business. Google Shopping operates on a pay-for-play platform, meaning that merchants pay Google for the right to have products appear in searches," explained Danhof. "Google is likely actively rejecting money from willing merchants for purely political purposes, this is a breach of management's fiduciary duty to protect shareholder value. The fact that Google also limits gun advertisements, the main driver of Google's revenue, should be a real concern for shareholders and investors. It is clear to me that Google's management team has decided that promoting progressive policies is more important than sound business practices in this instance."
The National Center has recently attended the annual shareholder meetings of Comcast, Time Warner and Amazon.com, where it asked the CEOs of each about its seemingly anti-Second Amendment policies even as they broadcast or sold extremely violent materials.
Since January 1st, the National Center has participated in free-market and conservative activism at 33 shareholder meetings.
A copy of Danhof's questions at the shareholder meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here. Note that the questions, when delivered, were shortened to comply with Google's request to keep questions to one minute. The questions as literally asked can be viewed on YouTube at http://youtu.be/K5kwaMzMm60
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a Google shareholder.