Senator Joe Lieberman earlier today publicized a letter he sent to Eric Schmidt demanding Google remove "content produced by Islamist terrorist organizations from YouTube."
The Connecticut Senator wants all videos mentioning or featuring these groups removed from YouTube--including videos featuring legal nonviolent or non-hate speech.
When I learned that Lieberman wanted Google to pull what he described as "terrorist content" from YouTube, my first thought was that his PR director obviously was incapacitated. But no, this was a team effort in scare-mongering.
Searches on YouTube return dozens of videos branded with an icon or logo identifying the videos as the work of one of these Islamist terrorist organizations. A great majority of these videos document horrific attacks on American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. Others provide weapons training, speeches by al-Qaeda leadership, and general material intended to radicalize potential recruits.Google isn't going to play ball. Here's what the company had to say:
Senator Lieberman's staff identified numerous videos that they believed violated YouTube's Community Guidelines. In response to his concerns, we examined and ended up removing a number of videos from the site, primarily because they depicted gratuitous violence, advocated violence, or used hate speech. Most of the videos, which did not contain violent or hate speech content, were not removed because they do not violate our Community Guidelines.
That important distinction was glossed over in Lieberman's official communications with the company. Of course, Google's refusal to play ball may get it featured as a candidate for Bill O'Reilly's Talking Point segment, but management's entirely right to stick by its principles. Lieberman's gone hunting with a blunderbuss, lumping violent and hateful content together with unpopular points of view. In this instance, Google did no evil.
I know we're about to get into the thick of the political silly season, but no less than a veteran U.S. Senator should take a look at the United States Constitution now and then. It's one heck of a document. Really.