Why is Google Not Citizens United?

Google recently announced its support of a new campaign called “Legalize Love”, saying,

We are proud to be recognised as a leader in LGBT inclusion efforts, but there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality. Legalise Love is our call to decriminalise homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world.

I’d like to stress that the point of this post is not about their cause. I’m not even surprised at this announcement, considering Google has a history of supporting leftist organizations and causes. The bottom line is that Google has a constitutional right to advocate whoever or whatever they want.

The problem occurs when the same people who considered the decision of the Citizens United v. FEC decision a victory for legalized bribery now turn around and call this an “admirable campaign slogan”. If you’re going to oppose groups spending money on political causes, at least do it consistently!

What is the Citizens United v. FEC case? Essentially, Citizens United is a conservative group that paid for and released a political video about Hillary Clinton back in 2008. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to air the video, as corporations were prohibited from spending money on independent political expenditures (not coordinated with a candidate) advocating the defeat or election of a federal candidate. The decision by the Supreme Court upheld the right of corporations to spend money to make statements about whatever political causes or candidates they choose!

Citizens United v. FEC is a case widely held by its critics as the promotion of “corporate personhood” or (as I quoted earlier) “legalized bribery”. Even President Barack Obama made a blatantly false statement to the American people about the decision of this law, showing a stunning lack of knowledge of the decision. He claimed that “foreign corporations” would now be able to “spend without limits in our elections.

Unfortunately, foreign corporations still do not benefit from the Citizens United decision or 1st amendment rights. And critics still seem to forget that corporations, like individuals, still have a significant amount of regulations related to direct political donations. The Citizens United case covers political speech. If any organized group, be it a company, labor union, or community organization, decides to spend its own money on a book, pamphlet, movie, or commercial advocating a political cause or candidate, the government does not have the right to ban it. Isn’t that a good thing? Unfortunately, many in the country have an extreme misunderstanding of the decision.

We essentially have two different scenarios that could have been achieved with this decision back in 2010. The Supreme Court could have decided that the government could keep doing what it had been doing – deciding which political statements are “acceptable” and which organizations are bound by the law. This further politicizes the process, creating lobbyists to convince the government that their political speech should be approved. The other alternative is banning it altogether. Both of these alternative scenarios lead to a controlling government that silences all coordinated opposition.

The best alternative is to allow all organizations to support their own political causes by starting campaigns, publishing books, or producing movies. In this, we preserve the political process and allow for open debate and freedom of speech as guaranteed in the Constitution.

So if you oppose the Citizens United decision, you need to make sure you truly oppose the principle of groups spending their own money on their own political agendas in all cases – not just for the causes you don’t like.

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15 responses to “Why is Google Not Citizens United?

  1. Google does not distinguish between “decriminalizing” homosexuality and equating it with marriage, though they do say they endorse Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual efforts at equalizing such behavior with the historical (5,000+ year definition) of marriage. It is ironic that the firm that supposedly allows access to unlimited information apparently lacks the critical thinking skills to easily recognize that there is no equality of terms between the groups. Few people advocate actual discrimination…but there is a vast difference between that, and equating Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual acts with those of heterosexual monogamous relationships.

    • I’m in agreement Andrew. The company has a high standard for itself with it’s “Do no evil” model, but it is certainly doing evil with sloppy civics. Is same sex marriage really about rebuking hate? There’s a legitimate debate about what reasons the state should grant marriage licenses for, and “homophobia” is too often used as a broad brush to kill debate and appeal to emotion. Of course a large corporation is free to be irresponsible with it’s message, but we should call them out on it.

      • Great points. Something you often see with these kind of things is to denounce the opposition as “intolerant”. This is supposed to be a “common struggle for equality”, not a political cause. Except for the fact that the slogan “Legalize Love” is inherently a political argument.

  2. Thanks for your post. I wasn’t sure what I thought about Google’s announcement when I read it a few days ago…but your post made me consider again the alternatives. I would certainly prefer to have the government out of any decisions about what political statements are ok and let organizations decide themselves what they want to support.

    • Exactly. Thanks!
      To me, the hypocrisy is just the most alarming thing. People seem so upset that the Supreme Court would let corporations spend money on political things they don’t agree with, then shower them with admiration when they support causes they do like.

  3. I know your post is not about Google’s cause, but I am sad that their cause has to be identified as a leftist one.
    Consider again….

    • I’m not sure why that’s sad. That’s simply a factual statement. Just like repealing ObamaCare is generally a conservative or “rightist” cause. It simply means it is an issue that predominantly is advocated by people on the left… would you argue the opposite?

      • I’m sad that instead of a leftist cause , it’s not a common cause. I feel the same way about that part of Obamacare that has as its goal to make insurance available to the currently uninsurable and to those who without subsidies cannot currently afford it.

      • To label something as right or left can sometimes polarize (create conflict)rather than promote discussion (movement toward common ground). I believe this kind of issue about to be one where together we seek common ground.

        • Just as I may wish banning abortion was considered a common good, not a “crazy right-wing Christian idea”. But unfortunately, no matter what side you’re on, you’ll always think your ideas are for a “common good.”

          For example, I think repealing a health-insurance law that forces people out of their current plans, wastes their hard-earned money, causes them to lose their jobs, increases the debt, and bankrupts states and young people is a common good. But instead of arguing that it should be a “common non-political cause”, I instead show how my political side benefits the public.

          The concept of “common good” has the fallacy that there is no “common” definition of “good”. The Nazis killed millions of Jews for the “common good of society”.

          Trying to ignore the fact that this is a political issue just avoids the actual debate.

          • Now I’m even more sad. Debate highlights conflict. Discussion works for consensus. Even for highly politicized issues, I prefer discussion. I choose not accept the notion that the concept of common good is a fallacy simply because some in the past have used the terms in partisan political ways. Christians especially should be able to find some common ground; even apart from that, I hope folks can find some common human values and virtues upon which consensus can be built.
            In this case, I did not intend to argue, but intended to share a sentiment. Although I do recognize that debate can be very
            helpful in forging good public policy, I also recognize that if one does not move from debate to discussion, paralysis rather than good public policy may be the result.

            By the way, At one time Romney favored a plan similar to what is referred to as Obama care and the Heritage Foundation favored a version of the ‘mandate.’ On that basis alone I’d like to believe a common good could be arrived at. Simpson/Bowles arrived at a consensus in a highly politicized arena; I continue to believe that consensus/compromise can be achieved in areas of abortion, Obamacare, and gay civil rights as well.

            “For example, I think repealing a health-insurance law that forces people out of their current plans, wastes their hard-earned money, causes them to lose their jobs, increases the debt, and bankrupts states and young people is a common good.” I think repealing such a health care law would be for the common good as well. Where we would need to start to find consensus is what can the private sector/government do well and not well in the health care and health insurance arena? How can we preserve choice? How can we best provide insurance for those with pre-existing conditions? How can we best provide health care for those who do desire it but cannot afford it. We would need to seek agreement on what from Obamacare needs to be repealed and what should be saved. We would need to look at alternatives and seek agreement on which of them may be better than the present system and better than Obamacare. I must continue to hope that solutions can be found that a bi-partisan majority can agree on or at least tolerate.

            I coached Debate and you participated in mock trials where the kind of rhetoric that begins the immediately preceding paragraph is prized and rewarded. I suspect such rhetorical argumentation is as fun for you as it is for me. The conflict such rhetoric engenders in such issues as public health care, abortion, and gay rights debate is prized by the media. I’m hoping our society will look beyond the rhetorical approach toward a Simpson/Bowles kind of approach. By that I mean the kind of approach suggested in the remainder of the preceding paragraph.

            Consider again…….

          • “I think repealing such a health care law would be for the common good as well. Where we would need to start to find consensus is what can the private sector/government do well and not well in the health care and health insurance arena? How can we preserve choice?”

            I appreciate that a lot. That’s truly the goal of my statement – repeal this law so that we can have a good discussion about healthcare. This law was rammed through so forcefully that nobody even knew what was in it or what it would do. If people’s lives are the question, we should take time and have discussions about the issues- but it seems the President and Speaker Pelosi were solely concerned with a policy victory, not taking the time necessary to actually solve this problem.

            Heritage and Romney at one time did support a similar law. But it has had problems as well. We should learn from the benefits AND mistakes in Massachusetts. The fact that they changed their minds indicates to me that this isn’t something that worked out so well. As well as the fact that healthcare costs have increased substantially in Massachusetts since the reform. It indicates that the plan didn’t accomplish what it wanted to – in fact, it may have made the problem worse. But the media was so concerned with politically vilifying Romney for supporting something similar that it failed to use Massachusetts as a useful case study.

            In many cases, debate is exactly the form of the discussion you speak of. I view our discussions on this blog as beneficial and constructive – not insulting in any way. But sometimes you have to stand up for something even if people disagree. Sometimes there is a middle ground. But sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we can work things out peacefully and compromise, but sometimes there are absolute truths from the Bible or our natural moral law that we cannot give up.

        • Also, this isn’t the only leftist cause I was speaking of. Google’s SuperPAC and employees are the 4th highest contributor to Obama’s campaign.

      • “It simply means it is an issue that predominantly is advocated by people on the left… would you argue the opposite?”

        Why do you suppose this cause is a leftist one? What is the stance of the right concerning gays? Should a gay person have the right to marry? Enter into a civil union or some other kind of legally binding covenantally bound arrangement similar to marriage? Have the right to make medical decisions for one’s partner when necessary? Should a gay couple in such a covenantal relationship (In a state that recognizes such arrangements) be welcome in an evangelical church? Are gay persons called by God to be celibate, even if a state allowed marriage? Should gay sexual behavior be criminal? On the surface, at least, this seems to be an instance where the right wants government intrusion. I would expect libertarians to favor gay rights. Does Ron Paul?

        • It’s a leftist one because the majority of its advocates are on the left. This wasn’t meant to be an inflammatory statement, just a fact. I feel like you think by saying “leftist”, I’m automatically implying that it’s evil – which is not the case at all.

          But I don’t believe anyone has the “right” to marry. We have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As for things such as the medical decisions, a gay person can already name whoever they want to have Medical Power of Attorney. Should they be welcome in an evangelical church? That’s something that church should decide, not you, nor me, nor the government. It also depends what you mean by “welcome”. Should gay sexual behavior be criminal? Of course not. Just as premarital sex is not criminal.

          On the surface, it may seem like the government is “trying to get in our bedrooms”. However, we’re not the ones trying to get the government to re-define marriage. We’re not trying to criminalize their behavior or control their acts. But we’re also not convinced that the government needs to remedy this “inequality” by expanding what marriage has been for over 200 years. Neither are the citizens in the 38 states who have passed laws against allowing it. We’re not trying to eliminate homosexuals from society. Mussolini and Hitler were the ones who did that.

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