Can Google be impeached for refusing anti-Cheney ad?

For a company that has accomplished so much brilliance, Google sure can be mind-numbingly stupid.

Latest case in point: Google is refusing to accept an advertisement from a Yale group advocating the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Here's the ad:

Help Impeach Cheney NOW

Nonpartisan, the time is here.

House JC 202-225-3951 Demand ACTION

Although it is being framed as such by the rightfully angry liberal blogosphere, this is not a free-speech issue. As with all publishers, Google has every right and responsibility to set its own standards for accepting or rejecting individual advertisements. The company also has a responsibility, if not a legal obligation, to set and apply such standards in way that shows they aren't drinking during the daytime.

Someone needs to take the keys away from whoever made this call.

Here's Google's explanation as provided by Ralph Lopez on DailyKos:

At this time, Google policy does not permit ad text that advocates against an individual, group, or organization. In addition, this policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that advocate against a group protected by law. As noted in our advertising terms and conditions, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site. Please note that both your ad and keywords have been suspended at this time.

Taken at face value - always a risky proposition in such matters - the explanation would seem to preclude political advertising of all forms, not to mention ads that criticize anyone for anything, since we're all protected by law (albeit to an alarmingly lesser extent every day). In reality, Google did not become a multi-zillion-dollar behemoth by being quite so picky about which ads it will and will not run. Here's a sampling of ads that Google has accepted:

Impeachment of Cheney

Better World Links

Information & Resources

Should Bush Be Impeached?

Iraq, Torture, Wiretaps, Lies

Sign our Petition to Congress!

Impeach the President

The Case Against

Bush and Cheney

What's the difference between those ads and the one Google rejected from the Yalies? ... You tell me.

While this episode is most likely a simple demonstration of Google ineptitude, the company also has posted a decidedly mixed record when it comes to kowtowing to official government censorship, most notably in China and Thailand.

But many times it's just poor judgment that accounts for this type of foolishness, as with substituting pre-Katrina Google Maps imagery for what the place really looks like.

Google can afford to do better. And the world that has come to depend on Google needs it to do so.

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