If you’re a sensitive progressive who is sent to the fainting couch every time you encounter any words you find upsetting there’s a new offering from Google which should vastly improve your life. In particular, if you find the idea of people who oppose abortion to be distressing and are sent into apoplectic fits when their ideas are published on the internet, it’s a dangerous world indeed. You can visit any number of news and opinion sites where the horrible term “pro-life” appears, insulting your sensibilities and inflaming your sense of outrage. Well, that can all be a thing of the past now. With the addition of a simple Google add-on to your Chrome browser, each and every instance of the term pro-life will be helpfully replaced with, “anti-choice.” (Independent Journal Review)
Many colleges have been petitioned in recent years, through student protests and petitions, to create “safe spaces” for minority populations. “Safe Spaces” have become the norm for female students, African American students, LGBT students and other groups.
And now, thanks to an extension available on Google Chrome, internet users one step closer to having a “safe space,” protected from language that they find offensive.
The extension, created by an anonymous activist in collaboration with the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, is called “Choice Language” and edits every page to change the phrase “pro-life” to “anti-choice.”
Described by the president of the NIRH as, “a really interesting and creative idea,” this uninvited editing of the work of other authors is being hailed as just the solution our nation is crying out for, at least in liberal circles. But that’s really the question here, isn’t it? Google is offering a product which you can install on your browser which will edit not only the raw text, but the tone and inflection of anyone writing about the subject at hand. Can anyone explain how this is allowable? Once the altered text shows up in one liberal blogger’s window it can be copied and pasted into other sites (within the limits of fair use laws) as if that was how the material was originally published.
Would Google tolerate a tool which took every liberal diatribe on web and substituted the term “gun control” with “anti-gun rights” in the text? How about if it replaced “voter suppression” with “voter fraud prevention” in every voter ID opinion piece? Somehow I suspect it would be less well received. In fact, we should probably contact a few lawyers about this because editing the work of others without their express consent or any claim of ownership of the original material sounds as if it should certainly be illegal, doesn’t it? It’s also an open door to completely ruin the original material in some cases. Imagine if this column were run through that filter. (If any Chrome users have this tool, let me know.) The last sentence of the first paragraph would read, the term anti-choice will be helpfully replaced with, “anti-choice.”
Much of this comes back to the endless war of wording which takes place in political debates. Pro-life has an inherently positive connotation, just as anti-choice carries a negative one, even if you’re not talking about abortion. Entitlements and welfare sound a lot worse than safety net. Examples in every segment of public debate are legion and everyone plays these linguistic games. There’s no way around it and, to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with it. We all get to structure our arguments as we wish. But for Google to step in unleash a tool which intentionally distorts the work of others is simply wrong and potentially illegal.