November 25, 2009

"We apologize if you've had an upsetting experience using Google."

But Google will not take down an offensive, racist image of Michelle Obama that comes up first when you do an image search on her name.

UPDATE: The blog that hosted the image has removed it.


Scott M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

The enmity should be directed towards the person who put the image up.

If you don't want to be offended while using the internets, I suggest blindfolds and earplugs.

chickelit said...

That photo of Michelle is nothing. You should the cartoon that R. Crumb drew.

wv: Hoott: yeah, it is. Nott!

alan markus said...

Idea for that image was ripped off from this site - post #6:

Google "Bush Chimp" images and you should find it pretty quick.

lucid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lucid said...

I haven't looked at the image. but I am much more terrified of Google practicing censorship and editing on the web than I am afraid of any offensive image. To the extent the image of Michele Obama is offensive in an inappropriate way, she has my real sympathy and support. But the procsss of removing what may be offensive is a road that ultimately corrupts our ability to think and to talk.

Robin said...

I don't see how this image can be the number one search result for Michelle Obama; it didn't show up for me when I tested it. I got a link to the State Dinner last night. Nice dress on Michelle, by the way. And didn't the Obamas look like giants next to the Indian Prime Minister and his wife. Interestingly, when I used the suggested search term from the article, adding monkey to Michelle Obama, my security software warned me away from the website.

Anonymous said...


Are racists not entitled to free speech?

I seem to remember a homily that unoffensive speech needs no protection.

Isn't that what you teach?

kimsch said...

If you do an image search of Michelle Obama, it's the first picture there. It's stupid.

wv: citivere

The Drill SGT said...

A pretty disgusting picture, but I don't recall the media outrage over BUSHITLER or CHIMPBUSH

And don't use the argument that Michelle is a private citizen. She's out there campaigning for Obama Policies in ways far beyond what Laura ever did, if in fact Laura ever campaigned for Bush policie.

Anonymous said...

"I don't see how this image can be the number one search result for Michelle Obama; it didn't show up for me when I tested it."

You're not searching for it correctly.

Try this link to Google Images to see one artists satirical and ironic rendering regarding Michele Obama's alleged glamorous appearance.

Isn't it funny how the left would jump to restrict artists who don't submit to their worldview and immediately attempt to suppress this clearly offensive speech designed to provoke.

Yet when artists are pissing on Christ ... well, that's AOK and we should pay for that art with tax dollars.

The hypocrisy is stunningly normal for the socialists.

Ann Althouse said...

@Florida. Of course they are and nothing in the post suggests that I think otherwise.

Ann Althouse said...

@Florida Your own distortions are really deceiving you. Get it together.

Anonymous said...

"I am much more terrified of Google practicing censorship and editing on the web than I am afraid of any offensive image."

Close your eyes and imagine a world where an anonymous corporation, controlled by socialists, are the final arbiter of whether a piece of art is offensive - whether a piece of speech is so offensive that it cannot be uttered.

It's already happening at Yale University, where pictures of Mohamed cannot be displayed.

That is the world the socialists are bringing into existence. They're applauding the creation of this paradigm and hastening it with all of their might.

Shortly ... Google will remove this art from its search results. They'll claim the artist rigged their algorithm in violation of some obscure term of service written in 2 point type somewhere on the internet and they'll take it down in a bow to demands from liberal activists.

This is how freedom dies.

Not with a bang, but a series of very small whisps until suddenly the candle goes out ... forever.

That is the world the Democrats and the academic left is creating and bequeathing to your children.

A cold new world.

Anonymous said...

Ann Althouse wrote: "Of course [racists are entitled to free speech] and nothing in the post suggests that I think otherwise.

Good ... I just wanted you to clarify that, since you didn't say one way or the other in your original post, leaving some readers to guess at what you actually believe, advocate and teach.

Google should be shamed if, as I suspect they will shortly do, remove that artists work from their search results.

Paddy O said...

Obama should have a brief chat with his good friends, the Chinese.

They could mention they don't like the picture showing up.

Google will immediately block it.

]ohn said...

Google is a private entity, they can do whatever they damn well please. I'm more bothered by Google handing out blogger info to the Chinese government.

I seem to recall Laura Bush Photoshopped to look the Joker. Neither 1st Lady is attractive. Would 'shopping Michelle as a dog be any less offensive?

chickelit said...

This is how freedom dies.

Not with a bang, but a series of very small whisps until suddenly the candle goes out ... forever.

Cheer up FLA. I think that if Google takes down the picture (which I didn't bother to look at btw), somebody else will just put something else up. If Google played the game of taking each offensive thing down, one after another, another Google would be invented.

wv: "thillypp"

Anonymous said...

"Google is a private entity, they can do whatever they damn well please."

No, sir, they aren't a private entity - they're a public entity. Stock of the company is sold on the New York Stock Exchange.

As a corporation, they operate as a business under laws that the people of the United States write.

And its your uneducated opinion about this that represents a major threat to our freedom.

Private companies or publicly-traded companies which accumulate quasi-governmental powers through non-competitive behaviors which they then abuse to strip us of our Constitutional rights can be broken up and sold off (think JP Morgan, Ma Bell). Their stockholders decimated.

As citizens, we control these corporations ... not the other way around. Google exists only because we allow them to.

The technical fact that they are "not the government" is irrelevant. Once Google thinks it can start deciding which speech is acceptable and which speech is not acceptable, we as citizens of the United States can rightly destroy that company. And we will.

Google knows it had better tread very lightly, or their investors and stockholders will pay a huge price and Google will cease to exist as we know it.

holdfast said...

I suggest a truce: The MSM and other media will stop pretending that M.O. is gorgeous and/or fashionable, and righties will stop mocking her physical appearance and will only mock her fashion choices when they are truly egregious.

Any taker?

Chip Ahoy said...

OK, I give. Which photo is the offensive one? The one that look like a high-school photo?
The one of her giving a speech where she looks mean and angry? The graduation mortarboard sitting on top of her afro? I don't see one of her as a gorilla or as Klingon warrior with forehead crests, and I'm not getting any obvious photoshops like I do when I search for images of absolutely every other well-known person imaginable.

Check that. [female obama] gets a nice array of strange photochops.

MadisonMan said...

Shorter Florida: I want more government control over corporations. That way we can have more freedom.

Cedarford said...

I move past the Google issue and ask why caricatures of black people and perhaps Jews and perhaps now gays are somehow uniquely offensive against some unspoken privilege of those groups NOT to be caricatured?

Why is it cool to have cartoons of Arabs as thieving greedy oil merchants...but everyone knows never to caricature a thieving Jew of Wall Street or Jewish con artist?
Why does no one rise in a lather of Hugo Chavez or some other odious Latin as a baboon or a white guy like the hapless Dubya Bush....but a ape photoshop of Michelle Obama sends the PC crowd ballistic?

And who wrote the rules that closeted homosexual pederasts like the gay Catholic priests and Tom Foley are fair game...but one must never publish a negative piece on a fully "out" pederast like Harvey Milk or a cartoon ridiculing the flaming gayness of Barney Frank, Andrew Sullivan, or Adam Lambert?

Where can I get a copy of the Rule Book of accepted and unaccepted lampooning?
Or is it all about groups that have gotten immunity amulets through intimidation that critics will be retaliated on and outright threats up front?

What do you think the conversation was like in a gay activist group when discussion of who should be targeted with violent protest, happened? Over rejection of Prop 8?

Strident Gay #1 - "Lets go get those Hispanic preachers and break their churches windows and threaten churchgoers.."
No! Our brown brothers in the Dem Party would not understand. They need more sensitivity education, first to overcome their primitive culture. It would be counterproductive and ...we could get beat up.
Strident Gay #2 - "How about the ignorant black churches??"
Same problem. No go.
Strident Gay #2 - "I was thinking Mormons.."
Excellent idea. We can target all Mormons and besides the churches, demand some in gay-heavy businesses be fired unless they come out personally for gay marriage. And we can boycott Mormon businesses. Inflict the full politics of confrontation, outrage, and retaliation on them. Lets make a list of places to go and punish them. The cops will protect us, up to a point, and even smashing windows at temples will not mean Mormons boiling out to fight us! Great suggestion we can act on next weekend."
Strident Gay Activist #3 - "I think Muslims are even more negative on gay marriage and gay rights than any group. So lets exercise our free speech and go smash up a Mosque and target individual...."
What! Are you fucking crazy??? Leave-The-Muslims-Alone. You fuck with them, they could kill us!!!

EnigmatiCore said...

My Google results must be different.

I tried doing a GIS myself, and then I tried using the URL that Florida posted.

I get a Vogue cover as the top result, and a whole bunch of innocuous other images.

J. Cricket said...

Since "the Althouse commenter community" doesn't favor reading, I'll clue you in: the article itself SAYS that the image was removed from where it was originally posted.

Now, you can continue with your celebration of racism.

Anonymous said...

MadisonBoy Purposely Mischaracterized: Shorter Florida: I want more government control over corporations. That way we can have more freedom.

What a sophomoric reading. The people (not the government) control the corporations, not the other way around.

The people also control the government, not the other way around.

So, shorter Florida: "I want the people to have more control over corporations and the government. That is the only way we can have more freedom."

Anonymous said...

"I tried doing a GIS myself, and then I tried using the URL that Florida posted."

I get a Vogue cover as the top result, and a whole bunch of innocuous other images.

That's because Google - as I predicted - appears to have removed the offensive artwork since I posted the link (which displayed the artwork at the time I posted the link).

It has been memory-holed ... just as I predicted it would be.

Anonymous said...

"Now, you can continue with your celebration of racism."

One man's racism is another man's ironic and satirical art. Can't you see the difference, Andy?

Or are you so boorish that you can't discern the nuance?

Happy with the rules of the game you created yet?

Eva said...

Google didn't take down the result. The website took the image down.

David said...

I would have had no problem if Google decided to block a blatantly racist image of the First Lady of the United States. As a private company they are not subject to the restrictions of the First Amendment. They get to set their own standards of taste and acceptability, and decide who may use their platform and for what purposes. The fact that they are generally a wide open platform, allowing all manner of nasty and disgusting material, does not change my view. If they choose not to permit their platform to be used for racist images that disrespect the person, her position and our country, good for them.

I understand all the slippery slope arguments, but slopes are slippery only if you make them so.

Does this ability to exercise selectivity give them great power? Yes, of course. But so what. Many organizations have great power, and we sift through it pretty well.

Kirby Olson said...

Everybody's talking about this image, but I can't find it. It's like trying to find the originals of those anti-Muslim cartoons from the Danish papers. No one's allowed to see it any more.

I did a google search and did find this one. Is this the one that everyone is upset about? Is it racist?

PatCA said...

I think my previous post didn't make but, but I can't find the image either.

The insulting images of Condi Rice are still up, though. Free speech! Sort of.

blake said...

Yeah. I've tried with quotes and without quotes, with all variations on safe search. I tried the link Florida put in. Following markus' link, I looked up "Michelle Obama monkey", which seemed to be popular.

I don't see anything awful or even very bad. I saw one of her scowling. And the high school pix, which are actually not bad.

The rest was all vogue covers and the like. I don't get it.

blake said...

Now I've tried Kirby Olson's link and still don't get it.

Also, those saying the web site took down the image—that shouldn't matter much, or so quickly. I often get Google image links that are of pix long taken down.

As for screaming about PCness, well, yeah, that's part of the process. People should know the way Google leans. This creates a market opportunity, probably already exploited out there somewhere.

blake said...

Also, I tried to find this pic yesterday, when the story first came up.

Google might well be saying "We're not going to censor" but they've already tipped their hand, haven't they?

Eva said...

Hello people! The hosting website took the image down. There is no conspiracy against free speech. Not on Google's part anyway.

From USA Today:

"The blog site that hosted the photo, an altered image that showed the first lady with monkey-like features, has now taken it down. The operator of the Hot Girls site where the image had appeared has now posted a message in Chinese under the title "Michelle Obama," with this statement in awkward English below it:

I am very sorry for this article, and that this is the program automatically issued a document from the article. Do not the subject of race and politics make the discussion too radical and sincere hope that the world is very peaceful."

Eva said...

Kirby - the image was still showing up on Google search this morning. I found it easily enough.

Google issued a statement saying they wouldn't take it down, and I also saw that statement as part of the search results.

Don't really get how Google has done something wrong here...

Eva said...

Sorry, meant blake, not Kirby

Kirby Olson said...

I found it, because someone personally emailed it to me. It just shows her with simian figures very crudely drawn in. I think this says more about the puerile nature of whoever drew it than it says about the president's wife.

It's not worse than the left's depictions of Condi Rice throughout her tenure, but it's still dumb.

Sigivald said...

Of course Google won't "take down" the image.

They didn't "put up" the image in the first place. They have no power to "take it down".

Google could, yes, modify their search results to not return it, or not return it in the top spot - and by doing so they'd set a horrible precedent that would kill their brand, in the long run.

And they know it.

Florida: Freedom can't die because Google stops returning an image result, even if tehy do as you suggest.

Know why?

Because you can still use any other search engine. There are lots of them, and the more Google notionally starts "hiding stuff", the more they'll be popular.

See above - being known for hiding information "they don't want you to see" is death to any search engine. And Google is not magically beyond competition.

Google is not a public service, indeed. They have no obligation to not filter - but they have every interest in not doing so, because otherwise why won't people use Yahoo, or Bing, or a notional revived AltaVista?

Alex said...


This is how freedom dies.

Not with a bang, but a series of very small whisps until suddenly the candle goes out ... forever.

Tell me about this mythical time when we had more freedom.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Tell me about this mythical time when we had more freedom.

@ Alex. How old are you?

Very young, I'm guessing.

Alex said...

DBQ - 33. Not that young. Please tell me that America had MORE freedom back in the 1960s when abortion was illegal and African-Americans were discriminated against.

Anonymous said...

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then the picture is this: Michelle in the suit, Barack in the dress.

BJM said...

This is almost as amusing as the Dems newly minted anguish over Hitler imagery in the political arena.

However, I thought this graf was a rather odd reading of our laws and customs:

He [Vise] added: "If Google got a call from the White House telling them it's against the law to have an offensive image of this kind which portrays the first lady in a racist manner as a monkey or an ape, then they would be obliged to take it down and I'm sure they would do so immediately."

Vise appears to believe that the WH is above the law if he believes they could require removal without due process even if such a law existed.

We are in deep shit folks if this is the level of understanding of our Constitution, rights and legal processes that a Pulitzer Prize journalist thinks is a) true or b) finds acceptable.

Actually I find this image of the FLOTUS in London far more horrifying than the image under discussion.

BJM said...

A friend reminded me of the many examples of racist cartoons, including Vanity Fair's portrayal of Condoleeza Rice that are available on Google sans apology.

Couldn't be that Google has regulatory matters before the Administration could it? No, probably not.

The funniest thing is that the image is all over the web now. I hadn't seen it and would never had done so. Good work Google.

btw- is a useful compilation search tool.

Jeremy said...

Yeah, that must be it.

Google has "regulatory matters before the Administration" and that's why they issued the statement.

It had little if anything to do with the crass nature of this (and of course other instances) type of thing.

It's ALL about Obama being elected and the two dolts YOU and most here supported...losing.