The Raving Theist

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Anti-Choice Search Engine Modified to Serve Real Women

March 21, 2006 | 30 Comments

New York, New York, March 21, 2006
Special to the Unaborted Atheist

An online bookseller’s anti-choice search engine algorithm has been modified to reflect the preferences of real women for abortion over adoption, according to the New York Times.

Until a few days ago, a search of Amazon’s catalog of books using the word “abortion” turned up pages with the question, “Did you mean adoption?” at the top, followed by a list of books related to abortion. A query with the corrected Amazon algorithm returns Mapquest and Yahoo maps charting the shortest route to a Planned Parenthood facility, together with listings for the books Having an Abortion . . . That’s Grrrrrrr-eat!! by Tony the Tiger and Abortion is a Blessing by Anne Nicol Gaylor.

Amazon removed the adoption question from the search results page after it received a complaint from a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a national organization based in Washington.

“I thought it was offensive,” said the Rev. John Louis, a retired Episcopalian minister. “It represented an editorial position on their part.” The Rev. James Brandt, a minister with the Unitarian Universalist Church, and a member of the abortion rights coalition, said he was worried about an anti-abortion slant in the books Amazon recommended and in the “pro-life” and “adoption” related topic links.

“The search engine results I am presented with, their suggestions, seem to be pro-life in orientation,” Rev. Brandt said. He also said he objected to a Yellow Pages advertisement for an anti-abortion organization in his city that appeared next to the search results.

Patty Smith, an Amazon spokeswoman, said there was no intent by the company to offer biased search results. She said the question “Did you mean adoption?” was an automated response based on past customer behavior combined with the site’s spelling correction technology.

She said Amazon’s software suggested adoption-related sources because “abortion” and “adoption” have similar spellings, and because many past customers who have searched for “abortion” have also searched for “adoption.”

Ms. Smith said that was because many customers who searched for abortion also searched for adoption, but customers who searched for “adoption” did not typically search for topics related to abortion.

Rev. Louis dismissed Amazon’s defense as disingenuous. “A real woman who orders abortion books online intends to use them for pro-choice advocacy when they arrive seven to ten days after her abortion,” he said. Louis accused the bookseller of infantilizing women and interfering with their personal autonomy, noting that by time a woman is first seeking information on abortion she has already fully educated herself on the topic and has made up her mind to terminate the pregnancy, if she is pregnant. Louis ridiculed the idea that pro-life customers might use the term “abortion” when looking for books, suggesting that more customary queries are “I hate women” or “blow up the clinic.”

Rev. Brandt similarly ridiculed Amazon’s claim that the “adoption” search result could have been based upon actual customer preferences. “Every woman knows that adoption is not a true alternative to abortion, because adoption does not kill the fetus,” he said. “It’s like saying that an appendectomy would be an acceptable substitute.” Brandt added that the adoption pool is already polluted with inferior minority or disabled children who should never have been born, and that any childless couple submitting a search for “adoption” is most likely looking for the opportunity to volunteer to escort women to their appointments for late second term abortions.

Comments

30 Responses to “Anti-Choice Search Engine Modified to Serve Real Women”

  1. Dada Saves
    March 21st, 2006 @ 10:29 am

    Hey! Your tagline needs tweaking: “An Unaborted Examination of et cetera …”

    thanks!

  2. Mookie
    March 21st, 2006 @ 11:38 am

    RA,

    You waste your valuable blog space writing about a topic that does not directly affect you. You are not a woman, you did not impregnate a woman that wants an abortion, and you yourself were not aborted, so you have no bone to pick with anyone. What it amounts to is you not liking women having the freedom to make choices for themselves. That, and being incredibly ignorant. We have words for people like you, and they are not very nice. Get your head out of your ass and post something religion-related. We don’t want to hear your faith-based opinions.

  3. qedpro
    March 21st, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

    Oh crap — another abortion rant…….

  4. benjamin
    March 21st, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    Mookie: “What it amounts to is you not liking women having the freedom to make choices for themselves.”

    Could you show everyone how you claim to that conclusion?

  5. conleythorn
    March 21st, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

    Where did all the critics, mavins and complainers go? The comments totals on every topic have been virtually static for about a week now!

  6. benjamin
    March 21st, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

    You’re right conleythorn. Let me pose a hopefully controversial question:
    What would be the response of the public if a MAN wrote a book entitled “Abortion is a Blessing” ?

  7. jahrta
    March 21st, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

    Conley – I think there was a mass exodus to other skeptic sites, such as the Evangelical Atheist.

    I think these abortion posts were a major precipitating factor

  8. Kate B.
    March 21st, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

    “Get your head out of your ass and post something religion-related. We don’t want to hear your faith-based opinions.”

    Because his supposedly “faith-based opinions” are suddenly not “religion-related?” You can’t really have that both ways, you know.

  9. PanAtheist
    March 21st, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

    I find RA’s stance on abortion hilarious!
    (And RA’s posts on religion largely lifeless these days).

    The Unaborted Atheist is the *Landover* of the Anti-Abortionist World, (intentionally – I don’t think so!)

  10. PanAtheist
    March 21st, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    RA, it would be great if you scrap the “Raving” site altogether, and go totally “Unaborted”.
    It would be for the best!
    Coz you send yourself up the best! :-)

  11. ashli
    March 21st, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

    abortion is the perfect topic for an atheist who believes we only live one life and therefore this one life is all the more precious. any atheist who doesn’t think abortion is an issue isn’t really convincing. what do they think all those kids just fly on up to heaven? or does being an atheist mean you only care about your OWN one life?

  12. PanAtheist
    March 21st, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

    Abortion’s an issue!
    Of course is it is!
    Duh!

  13. conleythorn
    March 21st, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

    Ashli, I would like to hear your estimate on how long you think your non-existence would agonize you if the insensate embryo that had not yet become you had been terminated. Let me help with the following scenario: Suppose someone were to walk up behind you in the next moment and shoot you through the head with a large calibre weapon. Do you think you would care? Do you think you would resent his action? And tell me, what would “you” have lost?

  14. The Raving Atheist
    March 21st, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

    Suppose someone were to walk up behind you in the next moment and shoot you through the head with a large calibre weapon. Do you think you would care?

    Conleythorn, I made that same argument here. I agree that Ashli would be in no different position had she been shot yesterday, than if she had been aborted many years ago in the womb. That’s why I oppose abortion — I like life and I like Ashli. The only difference between the two situations is that had Ashli been killed in the womb, she wouldn’t have had any enjoyment of life at all.

    Anyone can be killed quickly and painlessly. In fact, if the entire world were to blow up five minutes from now, none of us would be the wiser. But that’s hardly a reason to blow up the world. (please don’t argue that we’d lose our actual lives — remember, your life five minutes from now is only potential).

  15. darwinfish
    March 21st, 2006 @ 7:49 pm

    my take is that nothing has inherent value. the only reason it becomes wrong to take someone’s life is that they value that life (even if they can’t after they’re dead) and other people value that person’s life. A fetus however cannot value itself because it lacks the capacity (basically, its brain is not developed). If the parents of said fetus don’t want it then it has no worth or value and there’s nothing wrong with removing a parasite.

  16. Viole
    March 21st, 2006 @ 8:07 pm

    I think you just made an excellent case for blowing up the world, RA. By clearing off all you idiotic humans, there’s the potential that something with actual intelligence might evolve.

  17. bUCKET__
    March 21st, 2006 @ 8:25 pm

    Honestly, with all the pro-choice propaghanda that keeps floating around the world medias, I accepted a pro-choice opinion uncrittically. It’s kind of marketed as the leftist thing to do. The Unaborted blogs still makes me think.

    It’s the internet. No one’s making anyone read this.

  18. Mister Swill
    March 21st, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

    First of all, let me state for the record that Rev. James Lewis sounds like a schmuck who doesn’t understand how technology works. That being said…

    I understand that this is satire, but your last paragraph, along with similar ideas expressed in other “Special To Raving Atheist” posts, is completely ridiculous. These are not exaggerated versions of pro-choice arguments, these are straw-man arguments. And it’s ridiculous the way you keep making the same tired argument after continually receiving feedback from readers explaining that they support a woman who chooses to carry a pregnancy to term just as much as they support a woman who chooses to abort.

    What’s the matter? Does “abortion must be disallowed” stop being the no-brainer right answer when one realizes that the opposing argument is not, in fact, pro-eugenics? Might there be important practical concerns involved in prohibiting abortion beyond a philosophical discussion of what, exactly, is life?

  19. Mister Swill
    March 21st, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

    By the way, the legal status of abortion has been in the news recently. Maybe it’s time to state clearly your position on legislating abortion. Should Roe v. Wade be overturned and the decision returned to the states? Should a federal law against abortion be passed? Either way, how should the law be enforced and what should the punishments be? Who should be in charge of deciding when exceptions should be allowed?

    Actually, if your position is based entirely on the notion that life begins at conception, its logical conclusion is that abortion should simply be covered by our current murder laws. Doctors who perform abortions could be given life sentences or even the death penalty, as could the women who pay for their services. Miscarriages should be investigated as possible homicides and women who abort because their lives are in danger can argue justifiable homicide in court. Am I being unreasonable? Please correct me if I am.

  20. hermesten
    March 22nd, 2006 @ 10:12 am

    “Actually, if your position is based entirely on the notion that life begins at conception, its logical conclusion is that abortion should simply be covered by our current murder laws. Doctors who perform abortions could be given life sentences or even the death penalty, as could the women who pay for their services. Miscarriages should be investigated as possible homicides and women who abort because their lives are in danger can argue justifiable homicide in court. Am I being unreasonable? Please correct me if I am.”

    This is also the only honest conclusion for those who maintain a fertilized egg is a human being. One of the candidates for governor in the recent Texas Republican primary was honest enough to adovcate executing women who have abortions and the doctors who perform them (www.larrykilgore.com –though this part of his “issues” statement has been removed since he lost the primary, it is still alluded to on the FAQ).

    Most of the people who espouse the life begins at conception mantra are either liars who don’t really believe their own nonsense, or cowards who are afraid they’ll be labeled as nuts if they support the ends to which their logic leads. We can at least respect a guy like Mr. Kilgore for his courage and honesty, even if he is a nutter.

  21. The No God Boy
    March 22nd, 2006 @ 10:38 am

    This article lays out EXACTLY why choice must be protected, even if you think abortion is wrong and would never get one yourself.

    The antics of the anti-abortion crowd reveals their insidious nature.

    Choice is the great equalizer.

  22. Octei
    March 23rd, 2006 @ 12:24 am

    Ah-hah! I see whats going on! The RA wants to score some prime-time with his lady friend. He trying to establish some common ground so that she’ll fall fast and heavy for him. Quit being such a nancy-boy RA! Directness, it’s key. Tell the ignorant broad that you would like to engage her in the customary, non-protective, missionary style and worry about the bastard after you’ve done the deed.

  23. Octei
    March 23rd, 2006 @ 12:30 am

    Almost forgot about anal!

  24. conleythorn
    March 23rd, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    R.A.: “I agree that Ashli would be in no different position had she been shot yesterday…. I like life and I like Ashi. The only difference between the two situations is that had Ashli been killed in the womb, she wouldn’t have had any enjoyment of life at all.”
    My delayed response (been away 2 days):
    Had Ashli died as an embryo, she would have missed no more than she would miss after dying in her hundredth year. Only the living can enjoy or lose or long for. Her parents and others could have lamented the loss, and would presumably have been robbed of the enjoyment of the child that could have been, but the unrealized person could not, and its own “enjoyment” is a null value. -Thorngod

  25. Chris Treborn
    March 24th, 2006 @ 12:26 am

    If Ashlii was murdered in the womb then she would not have been able to find the love of Jesus Christ, so she would certainly have been worse off. This is obvious even to small children, your intellectual rivals.

  26. Mister Swill
    March 24th, 2006 @ 1:58 am

    Chris,

    You have previously defended your habit of name-calling on the grounds that others attacked you first. As far as I remember, I have not yet thrown an ad hominem attack at you, so perhaps you can address me civilly.

    An argument to which you often return is that God is so complex that it is futile for us humans to understand Him. I can accept that argument, but do you understand the implications of it? If God is beyond our understanding, then anything that comes from God is likely beyond our understanding as well, including morality. In fact, if everything comes from God, who is too complex for us to understand, then we can’t be sure that there are simple, no-brainer answers to anything. Interestingly enough, that’s also the logical conclusion I always reach when I consider the implications of a universe with no God.

    If you prefer, we can continue this discussion outside the Raving Atheist’s comments. My e-mail address is me at misterswill [don’t forget to spell out “mister”] dot com.

  27. conleythorn
    March 24th, 2006 @ 8:57 am

    ChrisT, I have no idea of your age, but you really need to start over with the 1+1=2 formula I offered you awhile back. You have been instilled with one hell of a lot of nonsense, and you need to examine it all with the utmost logic you can muster. -Thorngod

  28. conleythorn
    March 24th, 2006 @ 9:29 am

    If “God” is, It is All, in its total complexity and simplicity. Some sage wisely observed that if God is, then there is nothing any mortal can say about “him” that could be true. Morality, however, is a relatively simple matter at base. It is the glue of social being and is necessary to stable interpersonal relationships. It’s elemental forms can be seen in the behavior of other mammals, are quite obvious in cats and dogs, and are conspicuous in other primates. -Thorngod.

  29. Mister Swill
    March 24th, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

    Morality would be a simple matter if humans laid eggs and never went into comas. And if people never had to defend themselves with lethal force. And if they never had to lie in order to protect themselves or others. And if all people agreed on when to prioritize individual freedoms and when to prioritize cooperation for the benefit of a group.

    Morality would be a simple matter if right and wrong were things inherent to the Universe, existing outside of human whim. Or even if humanity had a clearly understood and and 100% agreed upon goal.

    Given the limitations of reality, however, morality is a complicated thing.

  30. hermesten
    March 27th, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

    “Given the limitations of reality, however, morality is a complicated thing.”

    For the rest of us perhaps, but not for Christians. For one thing, Christians aren’t part of the “reality based community.” And, for Christians, morality has only one meaning: sex. When’s the last time you heard Christians protesting, or even debating “thou shalt not kill,” in, say, respect to the use of US military power around the globe? 99% of all Christian babble about morality exclusively concerns: homosexuality, pornography, extra-marital and pre-marital sex, and abortion.

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