Is "Muslim" a derogatory term?
December 17, 2010 3:51 AM   Subscribe

Is "Muslim" a derogatory term? An online reputation defense company warns a San Francisco civil rights group that a Google search for their name pulls up a "derogatory comment."
posted by anirvan (54 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
May I be the first to say. What.
posted by mhjb at 3:53 AM on December 17, 2010


Imagine if Tyson Homosexual was Islamic.
posted by doublehappy at 3:57 AM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is Christian?
Is Atheist?
Is Buddhist
Is?
posted by Mblue at 3:58 AM on December 17, 2010


Online reputation defense company? Oh, you mean SEO Assholes Inc. Color me surprised.
posted by carsonb at 4:08 AM on December 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


Obviously what they meant to highlight was the offensively homophonic word "caucus."
posted by kittyprecious at 4:15 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The really offensive word in that comment was "allot".
posted by DU at 4:21 AM on December 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


Also: kind of curious what the legal calculus was that went into not naming the "chivalrous" org.
posted by kittyprecious at 4:27 AM on December 17, 2010


I've seen this kind of thing all over the place.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 4:32 AM on December 17, 2010


A Google search for the word "Muslim" pulls up a "derogatory comment"?

Just one? Good thing they don't call themselves "liberals."
posted by three blind mice at 4:39 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen this kind of thing all over the place.

This. Do a Google search of why do pakistanis or why do liberals and you get some derogatory autocompletes.

I'm almost certain the softies at Google have pulled some of the more derogatory suggestions [CENSORSHIP!] compared to last time I checked. The Google autocomplete for why do negroes is suspiciously not working at all.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:41 AM on December 17, 2010


three blind mice for the win!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:42 AM on December 17, 2010


The Google autocomplete for "why do negroes" is suspiciously not working at all.

Try "why do blacks".

It's depressing.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:47 AM on December 17, 2010


Granted that this is SEO bullshit, but this is the sort of fodder that seems to prompt mockery of the concept of political correctness. If the calculus of determining whether a term is "derogatory" is simply what words people apply to that term, then nearly anything becomes derogatory. To say nothing of my being a "geek" or "nerd," which do have derogatory provenance, I can be accurately described as a "Magic player" and a "gamer."

No hobby or occupation's really exempt. "Football player" (dumb, violent) is derogatory. "Drummer" (stupid) is derogatory. "Lawyer" and "Politician" become hateful words never to be spoken in polite company. Fortunately for us, language is decided by the whole of society, and not by one person (or company).
posted by explosion at 4:51 AM on December 17, 2010


Is that how you do online reputation defense, sit around reporting google auto-completes? You guys shouldn't be just giving this stuff away.
posted by ServSci at 4:52 AM on December 17, 2010


Try "Why do Australians" for some light relief. Or "Why do English" (although some of those are derogatory).
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:52 AM on December 17, 2010


White man is also considered one. Along with nerd, geek, jock, cheerleader, politician, etc.
also fratboy
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:03 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Granted that this is SEO bullshit, but this is the sort of fodder that seems to prompt mockery of the concept of political correctness.

This bullshit example of politically correctness is so bad, that initially I smelt a The Onion parody, or one of those fake stories that the MSM pick up without checking.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:17 AM on December 17, 2010


Is that how you do online reputation defense, sit around reporting google auto-completes? You guys shouldn't be just giving this stuff away.

A blogger recently did a piece on it with shiatloads of screen shots. Got picked up by a few link filter sites and got quite a lot of hits, IIRC.

I don't want to dwell on this, but I'm sure why do pakistanis smell was the top ranked autocomplete less ~8 months ago when I tried. And yes, ryanshepard, why do black and why do negroes were both turned off even back then.

It's someone's job on Google to do that. To decide we - the seething masses - are not allowed to see some automcompletes! And even more ludicrous, examples like why do pakistanis, where it's still turned on, but someone cherry picks the nicer answers as the only ones allowed to get through.

Paging Julian Assange... ;)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:27 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting. The autocompletes for "why do liberals" include both love and hate things. (Like "...love muslims" and "...hate america".) The autocompletes for "why do conservatives" are all hate things (except Israel, which is only "support"). Apparently, among google users anyway, conservatives are perceived only to hate whereas liberals are perceived to both love and hate, albeit for the "wrong" things.
posted by DU at 5:28 AM on December 17, 2010


How about "why are women..."

What the hell, google?
posted by King Bee at 5:31 AM on December 17, 2010


It's someone's job on Google to do that... Paging Julian Assange

Not to get all freemarket capitalist on you here but, um, Google is a private company you know, right? I mean they can pretty much do whatever they damn well please. If you are really bent out of shape about not being able to search for something you can always take your search electrons over to Bing. Also, I though Assange was bent on bringing down the "man" by exposing his evil, snarky, well researched and thoughtful diplomatic cables, not showing the capitalist emperor's nakedness by showing that they -gasp- do things for money!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:36 AM on December 17, 2010


Not to get all freemarket capitalist on you here but, um, Google is a private company you know, right?

Yep, it's all good mate, totally understand this. Just like when the owners of fark.com got rid of their boobies section when they started turning a buck.

But it's definitely worth noting. The more Google goes about performing arbitrary, "affirmative action" censorship, the less they become a search engine and they more they become an index. Or something like that. It was one of the criticisms of Yahoo searches et al when Google came along and blew everyone out of the water.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:52 AM on December 17, 2010


Not to get all freemarket capitalist on you here but, um, Google is a private company you know, right? I mean they can pretty much do whatever they damn well please.

We're not saying it's illegal. We're saying we don't like it. We're private individuals; we're entitled to our opinions of what Google does.
posted by John Cohen at 5:57 AM on December 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Google autocomplete for "why do negroes" is suspiciously not working at all.

Try "why do blacks".


Christ. Try 'Italians' or 'Russians' for more Google autoracism. Or 'Brazilians' for some WTF.

On the other hand, the Baltic countries seem to be free of negative characterizatons. Yay Estonia!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:05 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Try "Why do Australians" for some light relief.

Autocomplete #3: Why do Australians have an accent?

Crikey.
posted by jaynewould at 6:05 AM on December 17, 2010


And try "why are Indians..."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:06 AM on December 17, 2010


How about "why are women..."

The five suggestions for "Why are men..." are:

... attracted to breasts
... such jerks
... stronger than women
... so selfish
... afraid of commitment

This is like the worst Mad Libs-esque party game ever.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:10 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are they filtering the search results on this stuff, or just the autocomplete? I assume if I want to find out "Why do mefites bitch about fratboys?", I could still do that search.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:12 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do white people
act black
tan
like Wayne Brady
have thin lips
posted by rtha at 6:20 AM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


rmd1023: just the autocompletes. There was a report on this over the summer that went into the "so what?" bucket for the most part.
Google filters the autocompletes to basically keep the complaints down. Nothing more, nothing less.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:26 AM on December 17, 2010


uncanny hengeman: "The Google autocomplete for why do negroes is suspiciously not working at all."

Here's a list of a whole lot of words that break autocomplete. "Negro" is on there, but the list is much more sexual than racist.
posted by Plutor at 6:33 AM on December 17, 2010


why do liberals

Because they're generally nice people, and a lot less inhibited in bed?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:57 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Huh. If you limit it to just "Why are", one of the options is "the kardashians famous" which I think is a public service more than anything.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:03 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Try "Why do Australians" for some light relief.

Autocomplete #3: Why do Australians have an accent?


You missed 'why do Australians have British accents?' [wtf?]. Which leads to this page that has me despairing for humanity...[warning: Yahoo! Answers]
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:06 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


My palm went past face straight to forehead.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 7:13 AM on December 17, 2010


MUSLIM.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:45 AM on December 17, 2010


"Only a fool is offended, because they must take offense. Offense is taken, not given." - Brigham Young
posted by blue_beetle at 7:48 AM on December 17, 2010


"Only a fool is offended, because they must take offense. Offense is taken, not given." - Brigham Young

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - Shakespeare
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:55 AM on December 17, 2010


Oscar: My parents were Mexican.
Michael: Wow. That is... That is a great story. That's the American Dream right there, right?
Oscar: Thank... Yeah...
Michael: Um, let me ask you, is there a term besides Mexican that you prefer? Something less offensive?
Oscar: Mexican isn't offensive.
Michael: Well, it has certain connotations.
posted by Zozo at 8:08 AM on December 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Only a fool is offended, because they must take offense. Offense is taken, not given." - Brigham Young

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - Shakespeare


"Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear." -Aesop
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2010


heh
posted by clavdivs at 8:44 AM on December 17, 2010


01. agreed: three blind mice for the win.

02. okay to mention santorum here? best community hack of google results in my opinion (apologies in advance if this prompts a tangent).
posted by rude.boy at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2010


Which begs the question of what are Muslims suposed to be called then?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2010


Zozo: " Michael: Well, it has certain connotations."

Jack: It's not because you're a... I'm sorry. What... do you call... yourself?
Elisa: A Puerto-Rican.
Jack: No, I know you can say that but what do I call you?
Elisa: Puerto-Rican.
Jack: Wow. That does not sound right.
posted by Plutor at 9:53 AM on December 17, 2010


Which begs the question of what are Muslims suposed to be called then?

Terrorists, no doubt.
posted by immlass at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2010


Zozo and Plutor: I too have been told that "Mexican" is an offensive word. What, then, are we to call people who are from Mexico? Just because (American) bigots might speak the word as an invective, should we stop using the word to accurately state their heritage? Isn't that letting the bigots win?

Substituting "Hispanic" or "Latino" in this case is a step away from specificity that does no one any favors.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 11:04 AM on December 17, 2010


(I just realized you guys were quoting TV shows, but this is a real situation. Especially in border states like where I live.)
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 11:06 AM on December 17, 2010


What, then, are we to call people who are from Mexico?

UMSians, of course.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:26 AM on December 17, 2010


The country's official name is Estados Unidos Mexicanos. United States of Mexico.

It should be USMiams or EUMiams. Not UMSiams, you ignorant bigoted USAian.
posted by Dr. Curare at 12:00 PM on December 17, 2010


Please, their predominant language is Spanish; it should be E.S.-eños.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2010


The more Google goes about performing arbitrary, "affirmative action" censorship, the less they become a search engine and they more they become an index.

Oh please. Google isn't censoring search results. All they are doing is exercising a bit of discretion when they stand at your elbow and try to finish your sentences for you.

When Google exercises editorial restraint in this way they are saying, "Yes, we get a lot of racist and sexist questions, but we're going to pay you the compliment of not assuming that you want to ask a racist or sexist question."
posted by straight at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the assumption is there's a difference between autocompleting your "innocent" query into something sexual (for example), and you searching for porn. The latter is 100% unaffected, the former avoids a lot of complaints from the easily offended and just puts you back where you were before autocomplete (oh noes!).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2010


Not to get all freemarket capitalist on you here but, um, Google is a private company you know, right?

I want to make a principled argument about how Google is in a position of power, influenc, and importance that justifies imputing to it the adoption of a duty to be fair and accurate and reasonable - not that I'm suggesting that censoring offensive results is unreasonable; I have no idea how I feel about that - but there's an easier way to get there (caution: unqualified possibly bullshit pseudo legal argument to follow). As a rhetorical free market capitalist, you'll accept that Google is a legal person, and thus can contract with other legal persons. I don't know any of the case law, but I would guess that visiting www.google.com gives rise either to a number of contracts (provision of a webpage, provision of an autocorrect service, provision of a search service, etc) or a single contract (provision of the entire package). The issue that will determine the responsibility of Google to provide reasonable filtering, autocorrecting and results is whether Google makes the offer to provide a search in exchange for the user being willing to view advertisements or vice versa. If the former, it comes down to what terms the user reasonably understood were part of the offer. Is Google a content provider or a contractor that provides a searching service? You could argue that they keep a cache of the entire internet, which suggests content provider (the search filters their database), but the searching service argument is valid, too.

I suspect the answer is something like "It's the internet, you take your chances and get what you're given".
posted by doublehappy at 1:38 PM on December 17, 2010


editorial restraint

Love your work!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:15 PM on December 19, 2010


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