Friday, October 28, 2011

"Jew" and Google

The recurring issue of what pops up in a google search for the word "Jew" resurfaced on an email list I frequent. The perennial proposal of a petition to, or boycott of, google was broached. I think that's dumb. Here's a version of what I wrote:

The google algorhythms work (at least in part) based on how many unique visitors a site gets, using a specific search term. The magic word here is Jew.

Many of us shy away from “Jew” because, in the past, it’s been used as a derogatory verb, i.e. to jew somebody down from a fairer price. And even as a noun, "Jew," said with a particular Southern, western, or redneck twang, almost a two-syllabled “Jee-oo”, we’ve heard as code for “kike” or “hebe” or what have you.

The solution here is for all the people who are comfortable with the words Jewish and Judaism to get equally comfortable with Jew, and put it in their writing on websites, especially about Jewish substance. I do it in speech, as well. I’m much more likely to say “I am a Jew” than “I am Jewish”, although I use both phrases. But it helps reclaim the word from bigots, especially among our non-bigoted neighbors.

It’s my version of the “Black is Beautiful” linguistic jiu-jitsu that worked such wonderful magic in the 60’s and 70’s.

Try this experiment. Try three google searches. One for Jew, one for Jewish, and one for Judaism. Check out the differences in what appears at the tops of the pages.

Right now (these things change):

Jew: Jew Watch is the #2 result
Jewish: It’s not on the first page of results
Judaism: It’s not on the first page of results.

Petitioning google or threatenng to boycott the search engine, as I've heard suggested, is NOT the answer. Justice Brandies put it best, in opining on the 1st Amendment and virulent speech: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” See

The cure for bad speech is more speech. See

Outside of “fire in a movie house”, troop movements in war time, and a very, very, very limited exception for actual incitement to violence and what the law calls “fighting words,” restraining speech is a bad idea. Rebutting speech makes more sense, both ethically and as a practical matter.

Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising. Everyone tries the thing and never buys it again.- Jerry della Femina

1 comment:

Tara said...

Hey there, David! I hope you're having a wonderful 2012!