I'm sure you have read about Google agreeing to censor search results for Chinese users. There are two basic opinions on this: one side holds that censoring is disgusting and the other says it's better to allow them something than nothing at all.
I'm conflicted on this. I lean toward the side of "just say no", but I wonder how many people who say Google should take the moral high ground are willing to take that to its logical end? After all, Walmart and a lot of other stores are full of products made by Chinese workers who often are laboring under conditions that would be illegal here. Should we ban the importation of goods from countries with bad labor laws? Should we also stop buying oil from countries with horrible attitudes toward women or where states force religious conformity?
Well, maybe we should, but I don't think we'd like the consequences. I don't like Google censoring, but there are a lot of things I don't like. As most of us do, I have to make relative moral decisions, and those aren't always easy or comfortable. I don't know what's "right" here. The real "wrong" is China itself, and I could argue that Google holding firm could encourage them to change more quickly. But you could also argue that opening the information door a crack will make it easier to open it more later. Neither choice satisfies me.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-03 Anthony Lawrence
As an experimental psychologist, I have been trained not to believe anything unless it can be demonstrated in the laboratory on rats or sophomores. (Steven Pinker)