[TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of violence against the disabled]
I decided to edit the last post to split it in half. Some of you who read this through Reader are probably getting it twice, so apologies for that.
The second Facebook meme to grab my attention recently was this:
And having beliefs ought to mean you can make predictions, so in this case I predicted as soon as I saw this image that something was not quite kosher and that on further investigation it would turn out to be terribly misleading and that people aren’t really this horrible at all. And, well…
First of all, when I Google these words I get some very different results. For example, Googling “disabled people should…” brings up some of the same things they found, but also things like “disabled people should be treated equally”. I am not going to accuse the original author of lying because I know Google can sometimes be idiosyncratic, but at the very least it is less monolithic than the image presumes.
Second of all, even on the offending results, very few of them are actually making the positive case. For one thing, Google interprets “Should disabled people be killed?” interchangeably with “disabled people should be killed”, meaning that a lot of these results are people rhetorically asking “Should disabled people be killed?” and then answering “No, disabled people are as good as anyone else.” Others are quoting other people: for example, the top site to appear for me is an article titled Kill the disabled, they are unworthy , but its title seems to be paraphrasing the Nazi position on the issue and then goes on to say how wrong the Nazis were and how “I have been astounded at the capabilities of these so-called “disabled” people. They speak better English than many of my peers and the joy and spontaneity they experience through music clearly shows them to be more evolved than the average person. I know now that the words ‘special needs, disabled, handicapped and retarded’ need a thorough re-evaluation.”
Another lot are Christian sites, which put the “disabled people should be killed” position in the hands of some hypothetical atheist and then goes on to talk about How Christ Loves Everyone Alike. A few others are obvious trolls who then get knocked down by thirty or forty other people. We fill out the rest with mostly denunciations of politicians allegedly claiming disabled people should be killed, along with demands for the politician involved to resign.
I searched through the first thirty search results for “disabled people should be killed”, and I could not find one single web page which was unambiguously an essay in favor of the proposition. Thirteen were outrage porn railing against the fact that some other vague person or organization was even considering the question, and the other seventeen were a complicated mixture of things which admittedly did include a very few comments in favor although they all looked like they were written by thirteen year olds.
But there’s an even bigger problem here, which is that Google loathes everyone in the world with the burning fury of a million suns.
Type in “French people should…” and the single AutoComplete suggestion is “French people should die”. “Germans should” gets you “Germans should die” and “Germans should be exterminated”, as well as the equally-scary-for-different-reasons “Germans should have won”. “Jews should” gets you “Jews should all die”, “Jews should leave America”, and the comparatively reasonable “Jews should apologize for killing Jesus.”
This isn’t just Google’s oppressive WASP user base hating foreigners and minorities either. “White people should…” brings up four options: “white people should be slaves”, “white people should die”, “white people should go back to Europe” and “white people should be killed”.
“Homosexuals should…” gives you “…should be killed”, but “straight people should…” gives “straight people should die” as well. Is there anyone who Google doesn’t think should die? Apparently yes! “Hitler should…” gives you “Hitler should have won the war” and “Hitler should have finished the job”.
Google AutoComplete has complicated political beliefs. “Obama should…” gives “Obama should die” and “Obama should be killed”, but “Bush should…” gives “Bush should be in jail.” Type in “rich people should” and you get “rich people should die”. Type in “poor people should”, and you get, unsurprisingly “poor people should die” (as well as “poor people should be sterilized”). Google thinks “Republicans should be ashamed of themselves” and “Republicans should be killed”, but also that “Democrats should be shot” and the somewhat nonsequitur “Democrats should be confiscated”. Christians should “be killed”, atheists should “shut up”, and Muslims should “be exterminated” (or at least “not be allowed in America”). Some of Google’s opinions are bizarre: it seems to feel very strongly (all its suggestions are variants of this same phrase) that “dead people should stay dead”.
Even the user herself doesn’t escape Google’s universal crushing misanthropy. Type in “I should…” (without a space), and your second option is “I shouldn’t be alive”. Nor does the species as a whole: type in “humans should” and number two is “humans should die” (number four is “humans should go extinct”.)
It seems kind of ironic that a company whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil” has a flagship product that believes virtually every demographic group should be murdered en masse. I don’t know if this is a weird quirk of the search algorithm or if pretty much everyone who makes should-statements on the Internet is recommending genocide.
But I hope that this problem gets solved before Google tries to build a recursively self-improving artificial intelligence.