Google reposts anti-Islam video

The White House asked Google, which owns YouTube, to take down the 14-minute “trailer”–some people are doubting whether there even is a full movie–of The Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked anti-American riots throughout the Muslim world.  Google did take down the video temporarily, but then decided that it does not violate YouTube’s terms of use and put it up again.  See Google Won’t Rethink Anti-Islam Video’s Status – NYTimes.com.

The role of the video in the murder of the Americans in Libya has been challenged by evidence that the attacks were pre-meditated before the protests.  But see this for the eruptions in “Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Britain, East Jerusalem, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Syria, Turkey, the West Bank and Yemen.”

Google is still blocking the video in Muslim areas–so the rioters have likely not seen the thing–but it is available elsewhere.

As this article points out, websites and internet companies–as opposed to nations, courts, and governments–have now become the arbiters, the gatekeepers, the potential censors, and the enablers of free speech.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • WebMonk

    Point ofs correction: that Google “blocks” the video in “Muslim areas” is just barely, if at all, a hindrance to viewing the video on YT by people in the MENA area.

    Google only blocked it in Indonesia, Lybia, Egypt, and India and so it is viewable through most of the “Muslim areas” (I’m not sure what that term means, but only blocking it in 4 states surely doesn’t qualify, no matter the meaning of the phrase)

    Second, blocking it to the IPs of a particular country is perhaps the most easily circumvented block possible. Over the last several years, the populations of those countries have routinely gotten around censorship FAR more comprehensive than that of Google’s IP blocking. It is now almost the default for citizens of many countries in the MENA to not access the Internet from an IP of their country, and there are extensive systems already set up to allow them to quickly and easily shift to an external Internet address when something is blocked.

    Google is only blocking the video in the most tenuous of ways, and this is most likely purposeful as it aligns well with their general stance on communication. If they were truly desirous of blocking the video, they could easily remove it from their site entirely.

  • WebMonk

    Point ofs correction: that Google “blocks” the video in “Muslim areas” is just barely, if at all, a hindrance to viewing the video on YT by people in the MENA area.

    Google only blocked it in Indonesia, Lybia, Egypt, and India and so it is viewable through most of the “Muslim areas” (I’m not sure what that term means, but only blocking it in 4 states surely doesn’t qualify, no matter the meaning of the phrase)

    Second, blocking it to the IPs of a particular country is perhaps the most easily circumvented block possible. Over the last several years, the populations of those countries have routinely gotten around censorship FAR more comprehensive than that of Google’s IP blocking. It is now almost the default for citizens of many countries in the MENA to not access the Internet from an IP of their country, and there are extensive systems already set up to allow them to quickly and easily shift to an external Internet address when something is blocked.

    Google is only blocking the video in the most tenuous of ways, and this is most likely purposeful as it aligns well with their general stance on communication. If they were truly desirous of blocking the video, they could easily remove it from their site entirely.

  • Julian

    We do in fact have freedom of speech– but if we choose YouTube and the means by which to speak, we are limited (or liberated) by its Terms and Conditions.

    We do have freedom of speech, but if we speak in a library, we must only speak in a whisper. We are censored from letting those across the room know our opinion.

    A person with locked-in syndrome has freedom of speech– but they are limited by their lack of use of their tongue, and must rely on modern technology.

    A person on this blog may freely comment, but if they are rude, offensive and obscene, at your discretion and definition of obscenity, you may boot them off at will.

    If you post a video that raises hell half the world away, and results in a threat to the United States and its interests, our government has the right to call you an idiot (that’s what Christie would do, anyway) and investigate you.

    This isn’t censorship, it’s natural law.

  • Julian

    We do in fact have freedom of speech– but if we choose YouTube and the means by which to speak, we are limited (or liberated) by its Terms and Conditions.

    We do have freedom of speech, but if we speak in a library, we must only speak in a whisper. We are censored from letting those across the room know our opinion.

    A person with locked-in syndrome has freedom of speech– but they are limited by their lack of use of their tongue, and must rely on modern technology.

    A person on this blog may freely comment, but if they are rude, offensive and obscene, at your discretion and definition of obscenity, you may boot them off at will.

    If you post a video that raises hell half the world away, and results in a threat to the United States and its interests, our government has the right to call you an idiot (that’s what Christie would do, anyway) and investigate you.

    This isn’t censorship, it’s natural law.

  • Jon

    So, I saw the movie trailer.

    It seems to me that the content pretty much follows all those things that have always been murmurred about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his band of merry men. It’s apparent that it presents these events with much ridicule, but, all the same, these are events that no one really refutes. It’s just things that they don’t really want to talk about.

    I think Google is right to keep the content going.

  • Jon

    So, I saw the movie trailer.

    It seems to me that the content pretty much follows all those things that have always been murmurred about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his band of merry men. It’s apparent that it presents these events with much ridicule, but, all the same, these are events that no one really refutes. It’s just things that they don’t really want to talk about.

    I think Google is right to keep the content going.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    YouTube is singled out only because it is the largest venue. It also has some of the least restrictive terms for posting, but it isn’t the only venue for posting videos. So, anything YouTube does is only a token effort at best if there isn’t a concerted effort to suppress. Personally, I would have preferred that YouTube merely told the White House what it could go do with itself and done nothing with the video.

    Also, as Webmonk pointed out. Circumventing black outs is pretty easy with the right software. In fact, I think there is a YouTube video explaining how to do just that.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    YouTube is singled out only because it is the largest venue. It also has some of the least restrictive terms for posting, but it isn’t the only venue for posting videos. So, anything YouTube does is only a token effort at best if there isn’t a concerted effort to suppress. Personally, I would have preferred that YouTube merely told the White House what it could go do with itself and done nothing with the video.

    Also, as Webmonk pointed out. Circumventing black outs is pretty easy with the right software. In fact, I think there is a YouTube video explaining how to do just that.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    As I finally decided to watch the video. It appears the possibility of the video being removed has had the predictable effect. Multiple copies are starting pop up all over the place.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    As I finally decided to watch the video. It appears the possibility of the video being removed has had the predictable effect. Multiple copies are starting pop up all over the place.

  • fjsteve

    Removing the stupid video won’t do a thing except embolden the extremists. Scouring the history of the man who is responsible for the film for any shred of evidence to bring him up on charges–and there appear to be lots of shreds–will only do the same. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t face valid charges if he broke the law or broke the terms of his probation but there’s no reason to do this just to make it look like we’re protecting the name of their prophet. If it’s not this video, the extremists will pick something else to jump start further riots.

    I also have to say that I don’t think Google is the arbiter of free speech because they’re still a private company and can do whatever they want within the law. I see this as no different than letters to the editor of the local newspaper in former years, but in a much larger scale. But they do seem, at this point, to be more interested in protecting free speech than the White House. Is anyone troubled by that?

  • fjsteve

    Removing the stupid video won’t do a thing except embolden the extremists. Scouring the history of the man who is responsible for the film for any shred of evidence to bring him up on charges–and there appear to be lots of shreds–will only do the same. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t face valid charges if he broke the law or broke the terms of his probation but there’s no reason to do this just to make it look like we’re protecting the name of their prophet. If it’s not this video, the extremists will pick something else to jump start further riots.

    I also have to say that I don’t think Google is the arbiter of free speech because they’re still a private company and can do whatever they want within the law. I see this as no different than letters to the editor of the local newspaper in former years, but in a much larger scale. But they do seem, at this point, to be more interested in protecting free speech than the White House. Is anyone troubled by that?

  • DonS

    As has been suggested above, Google has every right, as a private company, to self-censor in any manner in which it chooses.

    The government can ask, but not order, Google to take it down. Its investigatory power is limited to what it is allowed to do without violating the civil rights of the individual at issue. Fortunately for the government, the individual was apparently on probation, which broadens greatly the power of the government to investigate anything reasonably related to the terms of the probation, which in this case reportedly included an order not to access the Internet. They took full advantage of that leeway.

    In this case, the government’s aggressive action against the filmmaker has chilled free speech, and has sent a message to terrorists in the Middle East that we can be cowed into repudiating our value system. And the likelihood is that the video had little or nothing with the planned attacks on the embassies, on 9/11, in any event, despite the administration’s hopeful protestations to the contrary.

  • DonS

    As has been suggested above, Google has every right, as a private company, to self-censor in any manner in which it chooses.

    The government can ask, but not order, Google to take it down. Its investigatory power is limited to what it is allowed to do without violating the civil rights of the individual at issue. Fortunately for the government, the individual was apparently on probation, which broadens greatly the power of the government to investigate anything reasonably related to the terms of the probation, which in this case reportedly included an order not to access the Internet. They took full advantage of that leeway.

    In this case, the government’s aggressive action against the filmmaker has chilled free speech, and has sent a message to terrorists in the Middle East that we can be cowed into repudiating our value system. And the likelihood is that the video had little or nothing with the planned attacks on the embassies, on 9/11, in any event, despite the administration’s hopeful protestations to the contrary.

  • fjsteve

    In an ironic twist that probably feeds into Muslim anger, it’s probably easier to find this video than to find the topless pictures of Kate Middleton. Not that I was looking, mind you. Just saying.

  • fjsteve

    In an ironic twist that probably feeds into Muslim anger, it’s probably easier to find this video than to find the topless pictures of Kate Middleton. Not that I was looking, mind you. Just saying.

  • WebMonk

    Nah, all you have to do is Google Image something like topless kate or something like that. To find the video you actually have to got to youtube and spell inocence, er, innosence, er innocense, or … inoscence?

    Aaarrgh! Why can’t I find that bleeping video!?!?!
    :-D

  • WebMonk

    Nah, all you have to do is Google Image something like topless kate or something like that. To find the video you actually have to got to youtube and spell inocence, er, innosence, er innocense, or … inoscence?

    Aaarrgh! Why can’t I find that bleeping video!?!?!
    :-D

  • Other Gary

    I just had an uncomfortable, nigh unto Orwellian, thought come to me just now on the subject of free speech that I am repulsed by, but also am finding it difficult to argue against from a Lutheran perspective. This rogue idea came to me while reading what Frank (fws) wrote on another thread this morning (“Hobbes vs. Burke”) about Old Adam, Divine Law and how God has set lawful Authorities over us to _compel_ the unwilling to do what is virtuous. Frank argues (or it seems to me he does) that God has not set civil authority over us with the charge that it ensure the greatest amount of liberty for individuals; He rather sets civil authority over us to _prevent_ our liberty from running amok and working against the greater good of a (relatively) peaceful and just society. If I may expand on Frank’s idea, Old Adam, naturally, wants to rebel against this authority and anything that might get in the way of getting what he wants, but that’s where the sword comes in–lawful authorities are permitted (even required) to use force to curb wickedness. All this seems to me to be straight up First Use of the Law, and Luther’s Two Kingdom theology.

    In other words, from a _Lutheran_ perspective, I can’t find much to fault this line of reasoning. But please, please, find Frank’s comments on the other thread and read them for yourself. Maybe I’m missing something here.

    But as a U.S. citizen who enjoys the blessing of liberty, and especially First Amendment rights which protect free speech, I see a problem here that appears to be inherent in Lutheran theology: how should Christian react if the lawful authorities declare certain types of speech to be “wicked,” and therefore propose to curb wickedness (First Use) by limiting free speech?

    I know this would violate our Constitution, so I guess we’re safe for the time being, but as a Lutheran, look what I’m relieved to be “safe” from: civil authority using the sword to curb my Old Adam from saying any fool thing he wants to. I’m actually glad, or at least my fleshly Old Adam is, that in our country we reign back our government from doing in theory our theology says God has given them to do.

    This is a very troubling problem for me. In the context of this thread, is the YouTube video a stupidly dangerous thing to post? Has the movie trailer incited violence, and is it likely to incite more, costing not only more lives but untold thousands of dollars? Yes, without a doubt. Was the individual responsible for posting this incendiary video doing it primarily to indulge his Old Adam? We don’t have to pretend to read hearts or minds, we can look at the results and judge this example of free speech, seeing it probably didn’t come form noble motives. And irrespective of his motives, his free speech became the catalyst for an international crisis. In light of all this, should civil authorities call this particular exercise of free speech wicked? And to curb wickedness, should the civil authority use the sword to make Google take it down?

    Of course, once we cross that line, who knows where we’ll end up? What would there be then to prevent the government from deciding the exercise of free speech on this blog needing some curbing as well? I fully appreciate the Orwellian implications of letting government go after Old Adam to _force_ him to be virtuous. If God indeed intended to delegate that kind of authority to human governments, our Bill of Rights seems to say that WE the people have taken away some of that delegated authority.

    So is our Lutheran theology in need of correction? Or is our nation’s Constitution manifestly working against the Divine Order? Should our freedom of speech be limited, and not just voluntarily by a Christian conscience, but with the power of the State? Is that what we want? I don’t think so, but that may just be my Old Adam talking. Truly, who’s got a handle on this?

  • Other Gary

    I just had an uncomfortable, nigh unto Orwellian, thought come to me just now on the subject of free speech that I am repulsed by, but also am finding it difficult to argue against from a Lutheran perspective. This rogue idea came to me while reading what Frank (fws) wrote on another thread this morning (“Hobbes vs. Burke”) about Old Adam, Divine Law and how God has set lawful Authorities over us to _compel_ the unwilling to do what is virtuous. Frank argues (or it seems to me he does) that God has not set civil authority over us with the charge that it ensure the greatest amount of liberty for individuals; He rather sets civil authority over us to _prevent_ our liberty from running amok and working against the greater good of a (relatively) peaceful and just society. If I may expand on Frank’s idea, Old Adam, naturally, wants to rebel against this authority and anything that might get in the way of getting what he wants, but that’s where the sword comes in–lawful authorities are permitted (even required) to use force to curb wickedness. All this seems to me to be straight up First Use of the Law, and Luther’s Two Kingdom theology.

    In other words, from a _Lutheran_ perspective, I can’t find much to fault this line of reasoning. But please, please, find Frank’s comments on the other thread and read them for yourself. Maybe I’m missing something here.

    But as a U.S. citizen who enjoys the blessing of liberty, and especially First Amendment rights which protect free speech, I see a problem here that appears to be inherent in Lutheran theology: how should Christian react if the lawful authorities declare certain types of speech to be “wicked,” and therefore propose to curb wickedness (First Use) by limiting free speech?

    I know this would violate our Constitution, so I guess we’re safe for the time being, but as a Lutheran, look what I’m relieved to be “safe” from: civil authority using the sword to curb my Old Adam from saying any fool thing he wants to. I’m actually glad, or at least my fleshly Old Adam is, that in our country we reign back our government from doing in theory our theology says God has given them to do.

    This is a very troubling problem for me. In the context of this thread, is the YouTube video a stupidly dangerous thing to post? Has the movie trailer incited violence, and is it likely to incite more, costing not only more lives but untold thousands of dollars? Yes, without a doubt. Was the individual responsible for posting this incendiary video doing it primarily to indulge his Old Adam? We don’t have to pretend to read hearts or minds, we can look at the results and judge this example of free speech, seeing it probably didn’t come form noble motives. And irrespective of his motives, his free speech became the catalyst for an international crisis. In light of all this, should civil authorities call this particular exercise of free speech wicked? And to curb wickedness, should the civil authority use the sword to make Google take it down?

    Of course, once we cross that line, who knows where we’ll end up? What would there be then to prevent the government from deciding the exercise of free speech on this blog needing some curbing as well? I fully appreciate the Orwellian implications of letting government go after Old Adam to _force_ him to be virtuous. If God indeed intended to delegate that kind of authority to human governments, our Bill of Rights seems to say that WE the people have taken away some of that delegated authority.

    So is our Lutheran theology in need of correction? Or is our nation’s Constitution manifestly working against the Divine Order? Should our freedom of speech be limited, and not just voluntarily by a Christian conscience, but with the power of the State? Is that what we want? I don’t think so, but that may just be my Old Adam talking. Truly, who’s got a handle on this?

  • Julian

    Other Gary, +1. Thank you for drawing out what I think the natural conclusion is regarding this issue. By the way, I don’t think it’s Lutheran theology that needs correction ;-).

    In all truth, our First Amendment is a great piece of work, but it’s certainly not curbing any wickedness.

  • Julian

    Other Gary, +1. Thank you for drawing out what I think the natural conclusion is regarding this issue. By the way, I don’t think it’s Lutheran theology that needs correction ;-).

    In all truth, our First Amendment is a great piece of work, but it’s certainly not curbing any wickedness.

  • rob

    I tried to watch the so You tube video, could not, has to be
    the most boring thing.

    How in heck, is this so terrible…Any how I do not have any
    sympathy for theMuslims.. Question? were not Muslims, who
    attacked this Nation, on 9/11?

    O why in heck, we can continue to five Millions to these criminals?

    what is wrong with this country

    Murillo

  • rob

    I tried to watch the so You tube video, could not, has to be
    the most boring thing.

    How in heck, is this so terrible…Any how I do not have any
    sympathy for theMuslims.. Question? were not Muslims, who
    attacked this Nation, on 9/11?

    O why in heck, we can continue to five Millions to these criminals?

    what is wrong with this country

    Murillo

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