Thoughtcrime

It appears that our friend Dennis Mangan has run afoul of Google’s guidelines for acceptable content: as of late afternoon yesterday his blog’s homepage has been replaced by the dreaded Blogger Screen of Death.

This happened also to Jeffery Hodges a while back, though in that case it appeared to be some sort of mistake: it was hard to see how anyone, even a Bay Area leftie, would have been offended by Jeffery’s amiable blog, and as it happened a friend of mine at Google was able to get his site restored. In Dennis’s case, however, I think this was probably a deliberate move on Google’s part. Mangan’s had been attracting a lot of attention lately (and, presumably, links and traffic), and Dennis writes frankly on matters of social and scientific controversy. In particular Dennis often discussed the dangerously radioactive subject of “human biodiversity”, a.k.a. “HBD”: the radical notion that there may indeed be systematic genetic differences of various sorts between human populations, that these variations are a suitable and important topic for scientific inquiry, and that there should be no taboos against such research, or against free discussion of what research already exists. (It is worth noting that an article on the subject was also removed, recently, from Wikipedia.)

In addition to his writings on HBD, Dennis also writes, from a conservative viewpoint, about other contentious topics: multiculturalism and the general decline of Western culture; immigration; religion and atheism — and, as a scientist himself, he often writes with caustic tone about the resistance of the scientific “establishment” to the presentation and discussion of heterodox ideas, particularly in the medical and climate sciences.

In other words: Dennis hasn’t got a P.C. bone in his body. He is always civil, always reasonable, and is motivated only by his sincere concern for ailing Western culture, and by a desire to get at the facts, however “inconvenient” they may be — but I have no doubt that as far as many people are concerned he is quite beyond the pale. His site had also become rather a rallying point for like-minded discontents, and I imagine he became conspicuous enough that someone at Google decided to declare him to be in violation of their terms of service.

I can tell you from personal experience that for a dedicated blogger, having one’s website go down is profoundly disconcerting; I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that it feels like a sudden existential amputation. My advice to any of you out there who have blogs on Blogspot: do yourself a favor and get your own site, especially if you have anything pungent or controversial to express. The cost is trivial — I pay $8 a month for hosting, and registering a domain is even cheaper — but most important of all, you own your content, and for now at least, you cannot be silenced. Blogspot is a free service, and as we have seen you run the risk of being taken down at Google’s merest whim, without even a word of warning.

I have no doubt that Dennis will be back; look for updates here.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m sorry to hear this, and I know from experience just how existentially disconcerting it is to be ‘disappeared’.

    Dennis, if you’re reading this, I hope that you make it back online. We need to hear unorthodox opinions, especially those that are intelligently expressed, whether we agree with them or not, and mostly if we don’t agree.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted December 1, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  2. Dennis Mangan says

    Malcolm and Jeffery both, thank you. This has been, shall we say, a unique experience. I have thought at some length about the possible consequences of my blogging, but I never thought that this would happen. It makes you realize that no matter how expressed, some people will think certain opinions are just hate, and deserve to be silenced.

    Google has still not told me what the problem is, but I can only assume that someone complained to them and they agreed to delete my blog. Malcolm has generously offered to help me out with setting up a new site, but at least for today, I need a rest.

    Posted December 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  3. bob koepp says

    Another strike against Google — not, I’ll grant, on the scale of their kowtowing before the overlords of China, but still very, very bad form.

    Posted December 1, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  4. the one eyed man says

    Having worked in the Internet industry since its infancy in 1994 – and, as noted yesterday, the company I work for now is in the middle of the Google campus here in Mountain View – I can assure you that Google’s ways are mysterious, and probably deliberately so. There are lots of commercial websites which have been punished by Google for reasons which were entirely mysterious to them (with no political content at all). That’s just the way they are. The inference that the blog was removed because someone found its content to be offensive is probably unwarranted.

    A side note: Google is a misspelling of the word googol. A friend of mine owned the url googol.com long before the company was founded. The company then approached him in a heavy handed way, and he told them to bugger off. They were forced to accept a misspelled url. A true David and Goliath story.

    Posted December 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  5. JW says

    I disagree with this also. Very surprising.

    Posted December 1, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink
  6. Good to hear from you, Dennis, and I hope to see you back online soon. I noticed that your site was down about an hour after visiting and linking to it, and sent you an email to enquire, but quite possibly sent it to the wrong place. (I had to search on the net for the address.) I presume the content is recoverable.

    Posted December 2, 2009 at 5:13 am | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Update: Dennis is working to put together a new site under his own domain. We’ll keep you posted.

    Posted December 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink