Google Sued Because Some People Wonder If Jon Hamm Is Jewish

from the they-should-just-ask-adam-sandler dept

We’ve written about a bunch of court cases around the globe, in which Google was sued (and often found liable) for the results of its autocomplete feature, which suggests popular searches based on what users have typed. For reasons that still are unfathomable to me, courts seem to think that Google should somehow be considered responsible for displaying what its users are searching for. These kinds of lawsuits appear to be particularly popular in France, and the latest one seems especially silly. Apparently Google is being sued because autocomplete sometimes shows the name of famous people with the keyword “jew” after them. This includes such non-Jews as Rupert Murdoch and Jon Hamm.

The lawsuit is being fought by a group, SOS Racisme, which claims to “fight discrimination,” but if that’s the case, then one hopes that racism has all but been obliterated in France, since the group has moved on to fighting ridiculous cases like this one. All that Google autocomplete is showing is that a lot of people (potentially ignorant ones) have searched for these names, along with the keyword “jew” or “jewish” to determine if the individual is Jewish. The fact that users search for something and Google displays that isn’t something Google should be liable for. Why blame Google for the actions of its users?

But, more to the point — and I say this as someone who is Jewish — what the hell is anti-semitic about doing such searches in the first place? I’m really at a complete loss to understand why this is so horrible. Yes, the reason behind the searches may be ignorance (and some of the results may point to pages that spread ignorance), but the group bringing the lawsuit seem to be suggesting that this is an absolutely horrible thing that people may be prompted to do searches on whether or not non-Jews are really Jews. The only way this story makes any sense is if all real racism and anti-semitism and other forms of ignorance and bigotry have all been eradicated in Europe. Assuming that’s not actually the case, perhaps it’s just one clueless group overreacting.

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Comments on “Google Sued Because Some People Wonder If Jon Hamm Is Jewish”

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gorehound (profile) says:

Anti-Semites are on the rise.I am Jewish and the son of a Holocaust Survivor.And in the USA where I live I have seen many an Anti-Semitic Comment on News Stories by looking at comments after I have read something.I also read a lot of News Stories that talk about people putting Swastikas on Temples, Jewish Graves, ETC.
Enough said for me on the topic.If you want to learn about the Jews of Carpathia i run my memorial website at:

Anonymous Coward says:

Anti-Semites are on the rise

Anti-Semites are on the rise.

They’re getting taller?

Or did you mean “Anti-Semitism is on the rise”? (If so, please provide substantiation rather than anecdotes.) I can’t possibly imagine why that would happen.

Are confusing Anti-Semitism with Anti-Zionism? They are not the same thing.

Regardless, it must be Google’s fault. Censoring Google will surely fix the problem.

Bill W (profile) says:


Equating a computer algorithm to personal interaction doesn’t make it for me. And I guess that’s the WHOLE POINT here. It’s the computer matching up words and, by mathematical correlation, suggesting some completions.

And, of course as you suggest, you can TURN OFF the suggestions easily.

Me? I sometimes use (and frequently am amused by) the Google search suggestions. I recognize that they are just suggestions, nothing more.

Shmerl says:

It’s definitely completely stupid to sue Google for what other people search for. However Google is at fault for censoring the auto-complete even without being sued. Try typing in some combinations with “bittorrent” word. (Like “Debian bittorrent” for example). You’ll get weird results with suggestions “mysteriously” disappearing until you complete typing bittorrent in. Clear stupid censorship of suggesting faster way to download freely available Debian.

scichotic (profile) says:

Ridiculous. Something’s wrong with… with people. What could make anyone think that a search engine is responsible for the content it contains? I bet they think Google’s employees are typing in the search results manually…

Either way, this reminded me of people saying Hitler was Jewish, so I decided to play the “how many letters until” game with Google’s autocomplete. I kid you not, I didn’t even have to type the first H in “was hitler jewish” to get it at the top of the list. I would have expected something about Elvis up there.

I hope the French don’t sue me for searching for that.

Kurata says:

Meh don’t worry, in France, we have a lot of groups that do various fights and always attempt to attract the attention.
For instance, some feminist groups fought because in France, we have “Mademoiselle” which is for unwed women, “Madame” for wed women, and only “Monsieur” for men whether married or not, and they wanted to have “Mademoiselle” removed from forms.

Anonymous Coward says:


Race and religion are different concepts.

What race you are is fixed in your genes, encoded in your DNA. It is determined at the moment of conception and is then entirely fixed throughout your whole life. You have no control over what race you are, therefore you should not be held responsible for it.

All religions are in the nature of social clubs. You can leave any religion at any time you like. You may join any religion which is willing to have you as a member, just the same as any other social club. The matter is entirely under your voluntary control. Under the universal declaration of human rights, you get that control, unfettered. Anybody who tries to take that control away from you is violating your universal rights. They should be condemned for that, in the most forthright terms.

However, it is perfectly reasonable to hold someone responsible for their choice of religion. They have the power, therefore responsibility follows. The merits or otherwise, of various religions, is also a perfectly proper topic for discussion, both public and private. Harsh words may be said about any or all religions, by anyone, at any time. Such speech is protected under the first amendment and the universal declaration of human rights. Persons attempting to restrict such speech should be called on it.

Some religions attempt to confuse the concepts of race and religion. This is intellectual dishonesty and they should be called on it. Judaism is a particular offender in this matter. Notice the definitions of the terms “semitism” and “anti-semitism”. Semitism has a racial definition. Anti-semitism is confused, some authorities give it a racial definition, some authorities give it a religious definition. As the AC above has correctly pointed out, anti-semitism should have a racial definition, to match semitism. The correct term for the religious concept is anti-zionism.

Anonymous Coward says:


I understand your concern and why you take offense. However, please consider whether this actually means racism/bigotry is on the rise. For a while, I was wondering whether racism in general is on the rise based on the same reasoning as you are using. The racist comments that are popping up all over comment sections etc. are disturbing but that does not mean it is on the rise. I’m, of the opinion that it means more racist people have a forum to voice their ignorant beliefs. Frankly I’ve come to terms with this. I’m glad people are voicing their hatred in the open. Since we know it’s out there and there is evidence, we know there is still work to be done. I don’t want to force these ignorant people into basements and private forums where I have no idea what they are talking about. I also can’t help but feel it is wrong to silence anyone, no matter how messed up their beliefs are…

Anonymous Coward says:


You apparently do not know much about Judaism, then. Judaism does not consider itself a religion, nor a race. It’s not a race, since you can join. It’s not a religion, since you can’t leave. Sorry.

Of course, that’s assuming you allow Judaism the freedom to define itself. You don’t have to like it, incidentally. Just recognize that this is what Judaism believes.

Brendy says:

By the same logic...

Why should torrent sites be held liable for the actions of their users? If it held up in those cases, then why wouldn’t it hold up here. Just sayin’ and playin’ devil’s advocate. I hate these cases and it’s retarded to find the companies liable for the actions of their users. The judges must be 100 years old and not understand how the internet works.

G Thompson (profile) says:


So therefore it’s a cult that you cannot leave then?


Actually anyone can leave Judaism, its the Jewish Faith that states they cannot, which is placing them in the position of denying someone their natural right of choice (free will) with is ethically and legally wrong, though according to some stating that is Anti-Jewish, Anti-Zionism and Racist all at the same time.

Me I don’t class people by their race or religion, I class them whether they are contributing in a non harmful way to society or are being complete idiots (and in extreme cases need to remove themselves from the gene pool)

As for giving an ideology (which is the correct term for Judaism) the freedom to define itself, that is perfectly acceptable, as long as they do it without restricting individuals and other ideologies from both leaving and claiming they are wrong, right, or just another stupid human psychological fear.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Google if they lose this, under French law, need to seriously consider whether they need the problem of France any more.

Switching off the country is easy and would allow the French Courts and Government the opportunity to basically get a short sharp shock of understanding of how the French people themselves feel when they take to the streets. Who knows, heads might roll in France again.

Anonymous Coward says:


Let’s try this again. According to Judaism, a Jew always remains a Jew. This does not mean that he is locked up in a room to prevent him from escaping to another religion. It merely means that Judaism and Jewish Law will always consider him Jewish. If he decides that he no longer wants to be Jewish, Jewish Law still considers him a Jew, although I’m not sure why he would care what Jewish Law thinks of him. I’m not sure how any of that fits into the definition of a cult.

“… without restricting individuals and other ideologies from both leaving…”. Define “leaving”.

G Thompson (profile) says:


to depart, to exit from a contract, to redefine your philosophy in regards to one ideology in favour of another (or none), to remove thyself from the associations that define other peoples perceptions that you are of one sort of religion or another.

Clear as mud yet?

And some religious text can state that the moon is made of cheese, it doesn’t mean that it is true. Nor does it mean that if someone believes in that truism and then finds logic and disputes it that religion then has the right to defame them by stating that no we can say you are a ‘cheese believer’ for ever no matter what you decide.

Can you see the hypocrisy for any religion or whatever to say that? Though admittedly Judaism is not the only religion or ideology to state this restriction on ‘freedom to state ones choice’, its the only Abrahamic one to do so.

Religions are great until they try to restrict natural rights, then they become unethical and their controlling nature shows through. Judaism is no different.. just a bit older, and maybe more subtle than others

Jewish Jedi (profile) says:

Is Judaism a Race or Religion?

Prior to the modern era (i.e. French Revolution), Jews were seen as a nationality without a land. They lived in any country by charter of the King and they had their own civil and criminal system when only Jews were involved. A Catholic living in England in the 18th Century took his civil dispute to the same court as a member of the Church of England. But two Jews in England at that time went to their own court because Jews were seen as a People without a Land but still a nationality.
This changed after the French Revolution when Napoleon called together 70 leading Rabbis and asked them 12 questions with the express purpose to clarify whether Jews saw themselves as being part of the Jewish religion or the Jewish nation. And he made it clear that while members of all religions could be French only French people could reside in France (He was afraid of the threat of a third front helping the enemies of France). These Rabbis gave Napoleon the answers he wanted to hear: We are a religion. 100 years later when it was clear that Emancipation had failed and Jews were not accepted as Frenchmen, a journalist named Herzl started the Zionist movement based on restoring the “national” dignity of the Jewish People.
This debate within Judaism as to what Jews are continues today. Personally, I like the answer of one Rabbi (Larry Hoffman) who says that Judaism is a conversation in which those who are Jewish know the lines (even the ones they disagree with) and that any other effort to characterize what Judaism is or is not is doomed to fail because Judaism does not fit exclusively into any one definition based on the available choices.

Anonymous Coward says:


A comment thread is really far from the best place to discuss ideology, but since I started….

Re: Leaving. You can declare your freedom from your parents until you are blue in the face, but it won’t change the fact that you are related, and that you have their DNA. You again make the assumption that Jewishness is based on belief. It’s not.


“Cheese believer” isn’t really analogous, since being Jewish is not based on belief. Therefore, no hypocrisy is involved in saying that someone is still Jewish even if they don’t believe they are.

Hypothetically, if tomorrow Judaism determined that you were Jewish, it would have little to no effect on your life, except perhaps to give you a great anecdote or two at the bar. So no freedoms are being removed.

Re: “restriction on ‘freedom to state ones choice’, [Judaism is] the only Abrahamic one to do so.” I regret to inform you that in years bygone, converting away from Christianity or Islam was a capital offense. Nowadays that may have changed, but then, Judaism no longer executes people either, and for far longer (not that they ever executed people who converted out).

Re: “Religions are great until… Judaism…”.
Again, Judaism is not a religion. Judaism considers Jewishness to be a state of being which is unalterable. If one doesn’t believe in Judaism, then this belief is just another that they won’t share, but there is no reason at all to get upset about it.

Re: “and their controlling nature shows through”
This is actually excellent news. Here I thought you had some misconception about Judaism, but now I see it’s just about religion.

Also, if “Judaism is no different”, then I wonder who is doing the controlling and retaining power over all the millions of Jews out there.

Anyhow, I’m done here, you can keep posting comments if you like, you’re free to do that as well. But if you do want answers, and not just to make a point, then there are many online resources where you can get professional and/or crowd-sourced answers on Judaism. And no one is going to try to proselytize you, incidentally; Judaism doesn’t do that either.

btr1701 (profile) says:


> Leaving. You can declare your
> freedom from your parents until
> you are blue in the face, but
> it won’t change the fact that
> you are related, and that you
> have their DNA.

False analogy. I can take your DNA and compare it to your parents and determine your heredity. I can’t do the same with your Jewishness. No blood or tissue sample can tell me whether you’re Jewish or not. Jewishness is not scientifically provable; it’s merely a matter of belief and faith, and if someone leaves that faith and self-identifies as something else, then that’s all that counts. The other Jews can claim he’s still Jewish until they’re blue in the face, but he’s factually not because *he* said he’s not.

Anonymous Coward says:


I actually wrote up a whole long answer to your comment, even though I said I wouldn’t. But then I remembered the quote:

“For you, my friend, I have no answers, because you don’t have any questions; you only have answers, and to answers, there are no answers.”

To that I would only add “you only have answers, mistaken facts, selective hearing, and a flawed understanding of logic”.

(If ever the day comes that you actually want to understand, and not to just argue, there are plenty of resources available. I mean this not in any sort of proselytizing way, incidentally. I mean only that if you are ever interested in understanding a viewpoint other than your own, you have but to ask. Because just arguing will get you no understanding.)

Be well.

Benjamin says:

Google is run by two Zionist Jews, Sergey Brin and Larry Paige. Google cooks its search results to produce a sensationalist tabloid similar to the rags of yesteryear, designed to shock and scandalize. Google is nothing but the product of two deranged minds, the atheistic Jews Brin and Paige. The fact that Google is controlled by Jews contains the seeds of its own destruction. Anti-semitism is self-preservation on the part of 98% of the population, because this non-Jew majority recognizes that the Jews (2% of the U.S. population) are anti-humanity. The Jewish Lobby is now the most powerful political force in the United States. Ultimately, the Jews will fail in their attempt to subjugate, control and dominate the non-Jewish population. Jews have been hated and despised since the beginning of time. The rapidly increasing anti-semitism throughout the world can be laid at the feet of the Jews. The biologic Jew is evil in his DNA. All cultures have expelled the Jews throughout history. The Jew is the author of his own destruction.

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