Friday, January 27, 2006

Veritas. Quid est Veritas?

Google has offered a Chinese-language version of its search engine for years but users have been frustrated by government blocks on the site.

The company is setting up a new site - - which it will censor itself to satisfy the authorities in Beijing.

Google argued it would be more damaging to pull out of China altogether.

Damaging to its profits, no doubt.

According to the BBC, searches of controvertial topics such as Taiwan and the Falun Gong bring up government websites instead of websites belonging to the Taiwanese government or the Falun Gong. So, basically is a search engine of the Chinese government.I don't see how this offers its customers any of range of information, if they all have one source.

According to Jack Ma, founder of China's largest business-to-business website, "you've got to have patience to make money here." And to make money means to get in on China's astounding growth potential. Some have argued that Google had no choice but to submit and that Google gives more to the Chinese than a government website because it clearly states that it is censored, which doesn't even occur in most countries. But I wonder... what is the difference between say kiddie porn and a website about democracy? It is true that there are countries with even stricter guidelines regarding internet use, Cuba and Iran for example, but google isn't persuing those countries as ferverently is it?

Which brings me back to my title. This dilema is not uncommon, and has been experienced many times before. Jesus says: "For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." (Jn 18:37) to which Pilate replies: "What is truth?" and proceeds to sentence him to crucifixion according to the will of the people.

When some student out in Beijing searches for the Catholic Church he will find the CPCA instead, the government sponsored church not in communion with Rome. He would be unable to read the great writings of JP II such as Veritatis Splendor in which he writes, "Evangelization is the most powerful and stirring challenge which the Church has been called to face from her very beginning."

If it is our will and our obligation to reach people and bring Christ's love to them through His Church, Google sure ain't helpin'. It is more concerned with whats best politically, to alter its content to remain in China, just as Pilate decided to free Barabas and crucify Jesus because it was best for him politically. I would even venture that to an outsider, the decision seems most efficient to prevent a local uprising in Judea. I'm not saying we should boycott Google; I'd find it hard to do so. Still, it shows us that sometimes, the best decision may not be the easiest, and reminds us that truth is something not to be compromised.

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