A testament to the power of conservative principles is the superlative success of Silicon Valley, even though it makes more headlines nowadays for its zany left-wing policies — like YouTube’s racial hiring preferences.
But Silicon Valley might be Ronald Reagan’s greatest legacy: his military build-up created a critical mass of engineers and the tech boom thrived in an environment free from regulation, taxation, and unionization.
It’s important to remember this legacy every time conservatives feel snubbed by Big Tech, such as last week when Google’s knowledge panel listed “Nazism” as one of the ideologies espoused by the California Republican Party. Understandably disgruntled, many conservatives blasted Google, including aspiring House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
(And yes, I was quick to email the news to my friends when I saw it on Drudge Report.)
Citing this as evidence of yet more anti-conservative bias from Silicon Valley, some on the right are demanding strict regulation to squelch this kind of attack, which is a temptation we need to resist. This foofaraw was just vandalism by an obnoxious Internet troll, not libel by a powerful tech company.
No one writes Google’s knowledge panel. It’s a summary of search results that simplifies Internet browsing for its users. Most of us use it so much that we don’t even think about it anymore. To construct this, the Google algorithm pulls information automatically from a variety of sources, notably Wikipedia.
Since its material is entirely crowdsourced, many people in Wikipedia’s early days mocked it as unreliable. But specifically because it is crowdsourced, Wikipedia is the largest depository of knowledge in human history.
Indeed, nowadays, Wikipedia is the no. 5 most-visited website in the world. Most of us use it so much that we don’t even think about it anymore.
Wikipedia, however – like everything else on planet Earth – is not perfect. Artificial intelligence and human editors regulate Wikipedia, but sometimes vandalism slips through (even just briefly). In this case, that vandalism got replicated by the Google search algorithm.
Every one of us has made a copy/paste error and sent the wrong thing to the wrong person. When you make that mistake, your entire brunch thread knows about it. When Google makes that mistake, the whole world sees it.
This is not the first time conservatives have grumbled about Google. In 2016, many complained that the Google search function was subtlely manipulating people to favor Hillary Clinton. Those results may have simply been the result of Google’s AI or — given the company’s business model — it may have been because the Clinton campaign paid for it. In that case, it’s not bias or censorship. It’s advertising.
Moreover, Google’s results of the 2016 Democratic Primary unabashedly showed the results of pro-Clinton super-delegates — which annoyed some people — and did nothing to help Clinton win credibility with populist Sanders supporters.
Conservatives shouldn’t whine every time we see something we don’t like; we certainly can’t respond with calls of regulation. If we do that, we’re no better than liberals who want to silence conservative talk radio with the Fairness Doctrine or to impose voting age caps to disenfranchise seniors.
Excessive regulation of any kind is contrary to our principles. Conservatives certainly cannot demand regulation that shackles one of our nation’s defining competitive advantages, especially when they haven’t actually done anything wrong.
Since President Trump took office, his de-regulation policies have spurred so much economic good news his opponents don’t know what to do with it. There’s no good reason for conservatives to demand the government intervene because someone on the Internet said something mean. That makes us look like the Chinese Communist Party at worst and thin-skinned at best.
Conservatives have gotten very accustomed to feeling defensive in the public discourse because so many voices are against us: the mainstream news media, Hollywood, academia, late-night talk show hosts and — yes — sometimes Silicon Valley.
But conservatives are not entitled to play the victim card on trivial matters. Indeed, we denounce that quality on the left with their cries of micro-aggressions, trigger warnings and cultural appropriation!
Conservatism demands maturity. This is the cost of being the grown-up in the room. Teenagers are entitled to rage at their parents, call them names and shriek, “I hate you!” But parents are forbidden to respond in kind. Rush Limbaugh has to behave better on his radio show than Samantha Bee does on her comedy show.
(Just kidding on that last one. No one could ever mistake what Samantha Bee does for comedy.)
If Google really bothers someone — thanks to the free market — they can use Bing or DuckDuckGo. (Though almost every time I do that, I end up returning to Google very quickly.) Google has created the world we all now enjoy. If their results don’t match my worldview 100 percent of the time, I need to let that slide like water off a DuckDuckGo’s back.
Jared Whitley is a political veteran with 15 years of experience in Washington politics. He has served as press liaison for Sen. Orrin Hatch and associate director in the White House under George W. Bush. He is also an award-winning writer.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.