The silence of Harper's is again broken for one of publisher John R. MacArthur's rants about the internet age. This time, Google is the target; he regards it as a parasite whose "logistical support for piracy" has destroyed the media.
Well, perhaps this will get to a useful discussion of Google's relentless cheapening of advertising markets?
Whenever I hear these silly corporate names invoked with sanctimonious awe, I imagine Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po, and Tinky-Winky singing their hit single “Teletubbies say ‘Eh-oh’ ” as they shake the change out of some two-year-old’s pocket. Come to think of it, Eric Schmidt’s new playmate, the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, bears a more than superficial resemblance to Po. Where will it end, as the dumbing down of America accelerates and Google becomes ever more dominant? A psychoanalyst friend tells me that listening to baby talk may be gratifying up to a point, but that constant subjection to it produces unconscious rage in adults. This unending assault of babble potentially could lead to revolutionary conditions in which
MacArthur invokes "free information" and "Don't be evil" as Google's duplicitous cris de coeur: so insightful! Nothing meaningful is said about any of its questionable practices, which are already the subject of intense public debate. But what are such things to readers of Harper's? In his rehashing of the mid-2000s' worst case against search, MacArthur is an avatar of magniloquent ignorance, of more use to his enemies than to his fellow travelers.