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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Green vs. Tea, Round 1: Party Battle Napa

August 30th, 2011 - 10:56 am

The Green Party faced off against the Tea Party on Saturday in Napa, California.

Democrats? Republicans? Snort. What do you think this is, the 20th century?

Neither of the dinosaur parties were much in evidence as the nation’s two new emergent parties did battle for the heart of America.

Green or Tea, which shall it be?

The catalyst that triggered this political firefight was the arrival in Napa of the Tea Party Express buses; Saturday, August 27 was the day the media-savvy group kicked off its coast-to-coast Reclaiming America Tour, culminating on September 12 in Tampa, Florida, at the CNN/Tea Party Express Debate between various presidential primary candidates.

Grassroots Tea Party groups from the region — the Wine Country, the North Bay, and nearby — converged on the Napa County Fairgrounds for a brief two-hour visit by the Tea Party Express buses and their accompanying CNN cameras.

But the Green Party simply could not let this stand. Word went out across the land that the Greens would be waiting with a “massive anti-tea party rally”:

Green “Tea Party” (massive anti-tea party rally)

The Napa County Green Party invites you to participate in a momentous and historic Green “tea party” on Saturday, August 27, 2011, at 10:30 AM in Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Main and Third streets in downtown Napa. Come help us unwelcome the Tea Party Express to Napa and instead show the public a positive Green Party alternative.

This Green Party counter-rally is being held simultaneously with the Tea Party’s kick-off of its national tour. The Tea Party has steered our nation further toward the reactionary right, undermining workers’ collective bargaining rights, attacking human rights such as access to health care, damaging our environment through attacks on regulation, and fostering an anti-diversity agenda that scapegoats Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBT community.

As the dominant parties acquiesce to this reactionary current, the Green Party stands apart as the healthiest alternative to the corrupt two-party system; a “duopoly” that has given rise to this right-wing shift. …

This Green “tea party” will be a chance for Green Party members and our progressive allies from across the state to unite in opposition to the negative Tea Party agenda by affirming positive Green Party values such as grassroots democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, nonviolence, community-based economics, and sustainability. …

Our rally will culminate in a progressive solidarity march from Veterans Park to the Napa Valley Expo Fairgrounds just across the river to protest the Tea Party Express event being held there.

The gauntlet has been thrown!

Meanwhile, the various local Tea Party groups didn’t seem to publicize the event much; in fact, I only heard about it because I was on the Green mailing list! The much-ballyhooed decentralized nature of the Tea Party sometimes has its drawbacks; and there was also a certain undercurrent of grumbling about the overly slick prepackaged glitziness and old-school establishment connections of the Tea Party Express group. Would anyone show up at all?

Maybe the counter-rally would be bigger than the main rally itself.

Ding!! The “momentous and historic” match has begun!

I showed up shortly before 11am and decided my first stop should be the Green Party’s “massive anti-tea party rally” scheduled to begin at 10:30am in Napa’s Veterans’ Park. But when I showed up, this is what greeted me: about 20 people milling around an empty plaza. Hmmmm….

I drifted around looking for answers. Several of the people there were from various socialist groups, like the ISO (International Socialist Organization), whose signs were about the Middle East, not “green” policies.

The MDS (Movement for a Democratic Society), another ultra-far-left group, comprised another significant portion of the attendees. Boring. I want individual opinions! I went in search of the unaffiliated at the rally.

Now we’re talkin’. This guy compared the Tea Party to the “John Birh” Society.

His sign merits a close-up of its own:

After a while, the crowd swelled to around 35, as a Green Party speaker at the podium raised his arms in triumph.

It quickly became obvious that the planned march on the Tea Party event wasn’t going to happen any time soon. So I bailed out early and headed over to the fairgrounds by myself. Instead of accompanying the invading army as an embedded journalist (my original plan), maybe I could watch the invasion from the Tea Party side.

On the way there, I encountered a small group of counter-protesters already leaving the Tea Party site. I had gotten my first inkling that something was awry.

Note how these counter-protesters are all white, fairly old, and carrying a flag. Despite that, they carried a sign accusing the Tea Partiers of being…

“Tea Baggers: Old White people Who Wear Flags.” Someone needs to introduce these folks to a mirror.

As I drew close to the fairgrounds’ front gate, I encountered a small stream of union members arriving with anti-Tea Party signs. What’s going on?

Ten or twenty union members lined up outside the entrance, but the Tea Partiers who were filing past them mainly ignored the spectacle.

And here’s where the confusion began.

Thinking that this was just some small-potatoes wildcat counter-protest, I shrugged my shoulders and entered the Tea Party event as well. But apparently, either while I was inside the fairgrounds, or perhaps before I even showed up in Napa, there was a somewhat larger union-organized protest that I somehow managed to miss. Or that’s what the media reported:

Police and newspaper estimates placed the crowd at the Napa Valley Exposition at about 600, with another 200 Green Party, Democratic and union activists demonstrating in opposition outside the Expo fence.

However, Alex Shantz of the Napa County Green Party said the size of the counter-demonstration was closer to 300.

While the protesters outside chanted, marched, waved signs and even briefly displayed a giant inflatable rat, the tea party rally on the Expo grounds featured heavily-amplified singers and speakers, two gleaming “Tea Party Express” buses and a mammoth American flag.

In addition to the giant inflatable rat was this sign: “Kill All Humans.” (I didn’t take this photo, but I wish I had; the original is part of the “Napa Patch” article linked above; direct link to the photo here.

Could it be that the anti-Tea Party forces were completely discombobulated? It seemed that there were two separate counter-protests planned — one by the Greens, and another by the unions — but neither was aware of the other. So instead of coordinating forces for a more effective unified full-frontal assault, each group independently staged small ineffective confrontations. What else could explain why the Greens were still assembling over at Veterans’ Park, while the unions were already protesting at the front gate?

The Numbers Game
You may have noticed that the crowd estimates quoted above are wildly at odds with the photos shown in this report. I was pretty stunned by the media’s estimates as well, and tried to find verification; all I could come up with was this image showing the elusive combined union/Green counter-protest that I somehow managed to miss, showing 45 protesters grouped together and ready to march. But where are the other 255, to reach the claimed 300 total? Let’s be generous and double that 45 up to 90, then round it up again to 100. We’re still 200 short. (Anybody who can provide me with a photo showing more than 100 counter-protesters, please post the link in the comments!)

Meanwhile, the same article estimates the Tea Party crowd at only 600, only twice as large as the counter-protest. I walked into the Tea Party event, stood approximately in the middle, and took this picture. To my right, out of the frame, is the CNN camera platform, which was on the centerline of the event facing the stage. Further off to my right are several booths and tables with people browsing. In the distance straight ahead, out of sight, there is a wine-tasting area and dozens more booths; and also a central midway with throngs of people coming and going; out of the frame to my left are several additional rows of seated Tea Partiers; and then the stage area itself; and finally, behind me is the entire other half of the event, maybe not quite as crowded as what you see here, but equal in area at least. And despite all that, I counted (took me 15 minutes, but I counted) about 500 people (or parts of people) visible just in this image alone, even though it only covers maybe 30% at most of the whole event. (For those obsessed with crowd estimates, I have made the full-resolution version of the photo available; just click on the image to see it, and start counting yourself; get ready for eyestrain.)

Based on this image, and my general impressions of the day (including the fact that people were arriving and leaving throughout the event so that the overall crowd size stayed the same but included new arrivees), I would personally estimate the size of the Tea Party crowd at closer to 2,000, and 1,500 at a minimum.

CNN makes no estimate of the Tea Party crowd, but says there were only “several dozen” counter-protesters, which seems far more accurate than the “Patch” article linked above.

AP give a generous 100 estimate for the counter-protesters, but limits the Tea Partiers to “several hundred.”

The S.F. Chronicle guesstimated “dozens” of counter-protesters and “hundreds” of Tea Partiers, which is probably the closest to being accurate.

My estimate? About 90 counter-protesters (half of them Green Partiers, the other half union members), and about 2,000 Tea Partiers. (Any evidence either way is welcomed in the comments section.) And since I hate the whole crowd-estimation numbers game, and am only doing this because of the media misreporting, that’s the last time I’ll mention it!

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Aldous Huxley’s classic dystopian novel Brave New World envisions a deeply disturbing one-world totalitarian state in which hypersexuality and loveless promiscuity are considered normal — even for children. Twenty-six years after its 1932 publication, Huxley wrote Brave New World Revisited to marvel at how many of his book’s outlandish futurist predictions had already come true — things like in vitro fertilization and psychopharmacology.

But if Huxley were alive today, he’d have to write Brave New World Re-Revisited to account for the new elementary school curriculum in Basel, Switzerland. Because what Huxley predicted would happen by 2540 A.D. has already come true in 2011 — 529 years ahead of schedule.

To prepare yourself for the Basel kindergarten lessons, first read this excerpt from Chapter 3 of Brave New World:

Outside, in the garden, it was playtime. Naked in the warm June sunshine, six or seven hundred little boys and girls were running with shrill yells over the lawns, or playing ball games, or squatting silently in twos and threes among the flowering shrubs.

In a little grassy bay between tall clumps of Mediterranean heather, two children, a little boy of about seven and a little girl who might have been a year older, were playing, very gravely and with all the focussed attention of scientists intent on a labour of discovery, a rudimentary sexual game.

“Charming, charming!” the D.H.C. repeated sentimentally.

“Charming,” the boys politely agreed. But their smile was rather patronizing. They had put aside similar childish amusements too recently to be able to watch them now without a touch of contempt. Charming? but it was just a pair of kids fooling about; that was all. Just kids.

“I always think,” the Director was continuing in the same rather maudlin tone, when he was interrupted by a loud boo-hooing.

From a neighbouring shrubbery emerged a nurse, leading by the hand a small boy, who howled as he went. An anxious-looking little girl trotted at her heels.

“What’s the matter?” asked the Director.

The nurse shrugged her shoulders. “Nothing much,” she answered. “It’s just that this little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary erotic play. I’d noticed it once or twice before. And now again today. He started yelling just now …”

“Honestly,” put in the anxious-looking little girl, “I didn’t mean to hurt him or anything. Honestly.”

“Of course you didn’t, dear,” said the nurse reassuringly. “And so,” she went on, turning back to the Director, “I’m taking him in to see the Assistant Superintendent of Psychology. Just to see if anything’s at all abnormal.”

“Quite right,” said the Director. “Take him in. You stay here, little girl,” he added, as the nurse moved away with her still howling charge. “What’s your name?”

“Polly Trotsky.”

“And a very good name too,” said the Director. “Run away now and see if you can find some other little boy to play with.”

The child scampered off into the bushes and was lost to sight.

“Exquisite little creature!” said the Director, looking after her. Then, turning to his students, “What I’m going to tell you now,” he said, “may sound incredible. But then, when you’re not accustomed to history, most facts about the past do sound incredible.”

He let out the amazing truth. For a very long period before the time of Our Ford, and even for some generations afterwards, erotic play between children had been regarded as abnormal (there was a roar of laughter); and not only abnormal, actually immoral (no!): and had therefore been rigorously suppressed.

A look of astonished incredulity appeared on the faces of his listeners. Poor little kids not allowed to amuse themselves? They could not believe it.

“Even adolescents,” the D.H.C. was saying, “even adolescents like yourselves …”

“Not possible!”

“Barring a little surreptitious auto-erotism and homosexuality—absolutely nothing.”


“In most cases, till they were over twenty years old.”

“Twenty years old?” echoed the students in a chorus of loud disbelief.

“Twenty,” the Director repeated. “I told you that you’d find it incredible.”

“But what happened?” they asked. “What were the results?”

“The results were terrible.”

Science fiction you say? Well, maybe it was science fiction in 1932, but in 2011 it’s reality:

‘Sex box’ to get new name as parents revolt

Officials in Basel have agreed to rename the “sex box” after receiving some 3,000 letters of protest from parents angered by the controversial trove of wooden penises and fabric vaginas set to be used in a new sex education programme for playschool and primary school kids.

Christoph Eymann, Basel education minister and member of the liberal democrat party (LDP), responded to parent’s protests in an interview with SonntagsBlick.

It was no doubt stupid to call it a ’sex box’ – we will change that. But we will stick to our goal: to get across to children that sexuality is something natural. Without forcing anything upon them or taking anything away from their parents,“ he said.

Many parents say they do not understand why sex education needs to be taught to children as young as four.

“There are usually two reasons why sexuality becomes a topic in kindergarten: either the teacher is pregnant or one of the children will soon get a new sister or brother. In such cases, it is correct that the teacher can respond”, Eymann told SonntagsBlick.

Eymann said he understood that one line in the programme, “touching can be enjoyed heartily”, could be misconstrued, but insisted: “It is not about ‘touch me, feel me’. We want to tell the children that there is contact that they may find pleasurable, but some that they should say ’no’ to. Kids can unfortunately can become victims of sexual violence already at playschool age.“

Eymann said he would prefer if sex education was taught to children at home but argued that education officials needed to respond to the realities of today.

We currently live in an oversexualised society. There is uncontrolled distribution of pornographic material that can reach young children. Some primary school children know the TV schedule until 2am. We would like to offer these children firm support, which is often not available in the family. The box is only an aid. I trust the teachers to approach the material with care.”

Despite this, Eymann said he takes critics’ arguments seriously, and has ordered the contents of the box to be examined after finding the cover of previous teaching material tasteless.

Some parents have called for their children to be exempted from sex education. Eymann says he is strictly against exemptions, although he is aware this will not make him many friends:

“Primary school may be the only big audience that our society has. The shared values that it teaches are very important. I would definitely like to keep this. The explanatory lesson can be portrayed in a way that doesn’t offend“, he said.

Critics of public school sex education have been warning of this for decades: Once you start down the slippery slope of teaching kids about the mechanics of sex, it will invariably (in some school districts at least) eventually lead to advocacy for sex. Combine that with the relentless drive to introduce sex ed at lower and lower grades, and you end up with what’s happening in Switzerland: Telling four-year-olds how pleasurable sex is and leading them in classroom activities that are tantamount to public masturbation:

‘Sex box’ for Swiss kindergarteners has genitalia toys: will teach sexuality is pleasurable

Kindergarten children in Basel, Switzerland will be presented this year with fabric models of human genitalia in a “sex box” to teach them that “contacting body parts can be pleasurable.”

The kit for teachers to give sex-education lessons to primary school children uses models and recommends having children massage each other or to rub themselves with warm sand bags, accompanied by soft music….

I can no longer deny what I’ve long merely suspected: That many “progressive” educators use mandatory public school sex education specifically for the purpose of indoctrinating entire generations of children into being promiscuous as early as possible. Why? To cause the breakdown of the nuclear family, to pave the road for a Brave New World.

Yesterday, it only happened in fiction. Today, it happens in Switzerland. Tomorrow — coming to a school near you.

[Here are some more photos of various Sex Box materials, found on this page:]

UPDATE: I didn’t know until after writing this article that just a few days ago President Obama visited a Martha’s Vineyard bookshop while on vacation and was seen buying a copy of — you guessed it — Brave New World.

One can only hope that he interprets the book as a warning — and not as an instruction manual.

Submitted for your approval: The perfect solution to America’s national debate over taxes.

This proposal is completely serious. Below you will find my suggestion for an amended IRS 1040 form. As you will see, it contains two new sections: “Voluntary Tax Rate,” in which each American can individually determine his or her own rate of income taxation; and “Allocation,” in which taxpayers can apply their personal tax payments to specific federal expenses.

It’s simple, it’s completely non-partisan and even-handed, and it allows for total individual autonomy and personal freedom.

Will it lead to a complete restructuring of the United States government? Possibly. And if it does, will that be a good thing? Most definitely.

Read on to see how this new idea came about.

Problem #1: “Raise my taxes!” vs. “Don’t raise my taxes!”

Recently, billionaire investor Warren Buffett publicly announced that he wants the government to raise his taxes, because, he feels, he just isn’t paying enough. Soon after, fellow billionaire Donald Trump joined Buffett in announcing the he too would at least be willing to pay more taxes if necessary. Then millionaire TV host Jerry Springer joined the chorus of wealthy Americans demanding that their own tax rates be raised.

These high-profile champions of increased self-taxation are simply the most visible members of an entire sector of the American public who demand that we as a nation raise our own taxes to pay for our ever-increasing expenses. (Many of these high-tax-advocates of course pay few or no taxes of their own; what they really want is other people to pay more in taxes. That’s why actual taxpayers like Buffett and Springer make headlines when they join the call for higher rates.)

On the other side of the coin, groups like the Tea Party have quickly ascended into political prominence by charting the exact opposite course, insisting that the economy can only be rescued by an across-the-board lowering of taxes nationwide. Critics portray the Tea Party lower-tax platform as nothing more than “greed” — the selfishness of people who want to keep their own money, and not share it with the rest of us. Defenders of the low-tax-advocates point out that it’s not greed but a desire to kickstart a stalled economy: lower tax rates generally lead to increased economic growth.

Until recently, the argument was limited to two sides, each seeking to dictate terms to everyone else: liberals said, “We want all of you to pay more taxes!”, while conservatives said, “We want all of you to pay less taxes!” But Buffett and Trump and Springer changed the parameters of the debate; instead of demanding that everyone else pay more taxes, these wealthy high-tax-advocates’ new twist is to announce, “I personally want to pay more taxes!”

» Solution #1: Voluntary Tax Rates

This seemingly intractable debate gave me an idea. Both the liberal and the conservative positions are ethically untenable: No one should have the right to force anyone else to pay more or less taxes than they prefer. These billionaires have hit upon a brilliant concept: Instead of everyone trying to force everyone else to conform to this or that view of tax rates, let each person voluntarily set his or her own tax rate!

Thus if Warren Buffett wants to pay more in taxes — he can do so! And if a Tea Partier want to pay less in taxes, she can do so as well. And if liberals think the tax rate is too low — well, under this new system they are free to pay at whatever higher rate they can afford.

It’s as simple and streamlined as can be, and everybody gets what they want. (See the amended 1040 form below for how it would work.)

Problem #2: “I’d willingly pay taxes for those government programs I like, but can’t tolerate paying for programs I hate.”

Both liberals and conservatives have this exact same problem: They’re more than happy to pay for their favorite government departments and expenses, but it drives them crazy when they’re forced to subsidize stuff they hate.

Liberals and anti-war activists, for example, have long insisted that their taxes not be used for war; so (especially when a Republican president is in office and/or during wartime), you will frequently hear them demanding that their taxes not be used for “the war machine,” or for certain weapons systems (like nuclear missiles) or for any number of things they deem distasteful (e.g. drone attacks, harsh interrogations, foreign combatants in military prisons, etc.). Conversely, conservatives frequently complain that their taxes are used to support “freeloaders” who spend their entire lives as recipients of the welfare system, and who as a result never contribute to society. So conservatives bristle at the thought of paying for overly lax welfare programs, not only because they see themselves as shouldering most of the burden, but also because they think the welfare system fosters a culture of depedency, leading to a downward cycle of fewer and fewer people paying more and more of the taxes.

And what drives both liberals and conservatives to distraction is when they discover that their tax dollars are being used for programs or procedures which they deem morally wrong; liberals, for example, don’t want their taxes to pay for the federal government to break up immigrant families by deporting the illegal parents while allowing the natural-born-citizen legal children to stay; while many conservatives find it intolerable that their tax dollars are used to pay for abortions in federally subsidized clinics — a procedure which they feel is tantamount to murder.

Yet the problem is, we’re all paying into the same big pie, and we don’t get to determine what our personal tax contributions are used for. Thus liberals end up paying for war crimes, and conservatives end up paying to murder babies, and everybody’s unhappy.

» Solution #2: Personalized Earmarks

Why are we still using this outdated system that leads to universal dissatisfaction? If each person was able to “earmark” the specific aspects of government which he or she deems acceptable, then no one would feel that their taxes were used for programs which are either unhealthy for the soul or for the national economy.

The solution to this problem is obvious: Simply amend the tax code to allow each taxpayer to individually allocate which governmental expenses receive funding from that person’s tax payments. Presto! Everybody’s happy, because nobody is being forced to pay for things they don’t like anymore.

But would this create a lot more paperwork for the IRS? Somewhat. As for re-designing the 1040 form, I’ve already done that part, so nothing to worry about there. As for totaling up the calculations of how much each government department gets from each taxpayer — well, sure, that would require more bean-counters, but the overall amount of extra IRS employees needed for the task would be tiny compared to the number of bureaucrats in most other areas of government, and this minor inconvenience is a small price to pay for fundamentally reorganizing the tax code in such a way that is pleasing to everyone.

Below you will find my proposed amended IRA 1040 form; the top image shows the full front page of the 1040 form with the two new sections in situ, as they will appear to taxpayers; and the bottom image shows just the newly added sections, for extra clarity. (In each case, simply click on the image to see a much larger and clearer version of the amended form.)

Don’t like my proposal? Feel free to add your own revisions, critiques or alternate suggestions in the comments section below. Let the debate begin!

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…and, for the record, here’s the same new revision, all by itself (click to enlarge):

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Deconstructing SlutWalk

August 9th, 2011 - 3:58 am

San Francisco hosted its first SlutWalk on Saturday, August 6, and I — along with two fellow sluts — simply had to go check out this latest protest fad.

For those not familiar with the concept of a “SlutWalk,” this sign pretty much sums it up: Unwanted Exposure to Scrotum Is Never OK! At SlutWalks, feminist desmoiselles trying to look both sexy and intimidating gather in public for a communal howl against rape and victimhood. Sometimes — as in this example (one hopes) — they have a great sense of humor; other times, not so much.

The crowd assembled in San Francisco’s Dolores Park for a march through town. In case you’re wondering what’s so controversial about rape that it needs to be protested against — well, you accidentally just hit the nail on the head. Because, in truth, basically everybody on all sides of all political spectrums already thinks that rape is among the most evil of crimes. So: why a protest? For that answer, we must plumb deep.

The SlutWalk concept started earlier this year at a crime prevention conference in Canada (yes, Canada) where a clueless Toronto policeman, invited to instruct assembled students how to not become the victims of rape, concluded his talk with one extra bit of advice: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts.”

Result: Outrage. Implicit in his statement, the Canadian students felt, was the insinuation that rape victims who dressed provocatively are partly to blame for what happens to them. This Toronto constable opened a Pandora’s Box! A few months later, Canadian feminists organized the first “SlutWalk” to protest against the very principle of this “don’t dress like a slut” attitude, and from that day forward SlutWalks have erupted in cities all over the globe. The only surprising part is that it took four months to reach San Francisco. We’re not used to being this far behind the curve!

Dressing for a SlutWalk is a delicate balance. The goal is to be as enticing and as repulsive as possible — simultaneously. Sometimes this is accomplished by exposing as much flesh as you dare, while sporting angry man-hating political diatribes, often inked directly onto your body, as we see here.

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You Must Abort or We’ll Take You to Court

August 4th, 2011 - 2:43 am

Not aborting fetuses will soon be a crime in San Francisco.

At least that’s what the city government is pushing for in its bizarre new attack on pregnancy counseling centers.

Actually, “bizarre” is too mild a word to describe San Francisco’s latest outburst; even from my pro-choice perspective, the city’s attempt to essentially banish any counseling center which doesn’t encourage or perform abortions is simply beyond belief.

Yesterday, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Malia Cohen acting on behalf of the municipal government launched a “coordinated attack” on pregnancy counseling centers that didn’t provide or advocate for abortions:

San Francisco leaders are launching a coordinated attack against what they call “one of the most serious threats to reproductive rights today” — so-called crisis pregnancy centers that advertise as though they provide abortions, but counsel against them.

In a joint press conference with Supervisor Malia Cohen, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the “right-wing, politically motivated centers” use false advertisements to target vulnerable populations and can cost women valuable time as they decide whether or not to end a pregnancy.

“Women’s reproductive rights are under assault,” Herrera said.

The two officials both took action against the centers Tuesday: Cohen introduced legislation that would prohibit centers from making misleading statements about the services they provide, while Herrera took the first step toward legal action against a center he accused of doing just that.

Cohen’s bill, which was co-sponsored by supervisors David Chiu, Jane Kim and Scott Wiener, would give centers that use misleading advertisements 10 days to correct the problem. After that, the organizations would either be fined or given a court order requiring them to comply.

Also on Tuesday, Herrera sent a letter to First Resort, a San Francisco center whose advertising he described as “particularly egregious.”

First Resort’s sponsored advertisement appears in the results of a Google search for the terms “abortion” and “San Francisco”.

When women search for terms like “abortion” and “San Francisco,” a Google ad sponsored by First Resort appears, even though the organization does not provide abortions or referrals for them, Herrera said.

The letter asks First Resort to change its advertisements and website by the end of August to clarify that it does not provide abortion services.

Hold on just a moment. Everybody freeze. What exactly is “First Resort” accused of doing wrong? Buying a Google ad? Let’s look at the specifics.

If you scour First Resort’s Web site, nowhere do they claim that they provide abortions, or even advocate for abortions. In fact, quite the opposite: they use various code words like “values” and “adoption” which make it pretty clear they’re coming from a “keep the baby” perspective in their counseling.

So what’s the problem? San Francisco’s municipal government apparently had a conniption fit over the placement of First Resort’s Google ad. In particular, if you Google the words “abortion” and “San Francisco,” the very top result is a listing for the First Resort clinic:

Does the ad itself say that First Resort provides abortions? No. Does it even mention abortions? No. It just says “First Resort – Unplanned Pregnancy.” Nothing more. But gosh darn it, the ad pops up if someone does a Google search!

Now, I’m not enough of an expert on Google Ads to know how the placement works. Does First Resort get a good placement simply because of an automated relevancy algorithm built into the Google search engine? Or did First Resort give Google money specifically so that they would get high placement in various search term combinations?

I don’t know. And I’m pretty certain that the S.F. City Attorney doesn’t know either. Because it’s easy to target a nonprofit counseling center, but woe unto any entity as small as a city which tries to sue the behemoth Google, which probably has more lawyers on staff than all the pregnancy counseling centers in the world combined. (Only sovereign nations have the resources to sue Google, as is happening now in various privacy lawsuits.)

If First Resort’s Google Search listing had come in, say, 17th, behind various abortion mills, the city of San Francisco would have just shrugged it off and not gone to all this trouble. But those damn non-aborters somehow managed to finagle the top result for certain search terms! Take them to court!

This could be a legal first. Has any other business or organization ever been sued over their Google search ranking? Because that’s what this is all about. Remember that neither First Resort’s Web site nor the ads linking to their Web site make any claims about providing abortions. No, the only basis for a “false advertising claim” against them is not the content of their advertising, but the placement of it. But it’s not even clear if the company has any control over the placement of their ads — for that info, we’d have to sue Google, which is simply unfeasible.

So, based on basically no evidence whatsoever, the city of San Francisco is planning to sue a counseling center for false advertising, even though their advertisements are not false.

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