Google thinks hunting is animal cruelty.
Well, they did for a few days and until U.S. senators, a Congressman, Donald Trump Jr. and the media started asking questions. Now, they’re pretty quiet about the issue. In fact, Google, Inc., isn’t returning phone calls to media asking about what happened.
It all started when Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) wanted to promote an eight-minute video about hunting’s benefits. The video featured former RMEF board member Nancy Hadley taking part in a New Mexico muzzleloader hunt and includes memories of being raised in a hunting family.
Salacious, we know.
Here’s what Google had to say to RMEF when they tried to promote the video on their Google Ads account, which they’ve had for nearly a decade.
“…any promotions about hunting practices, even when they are intended as a healthy method of population control and/or conservation, is considered as animal cruelty and deemed inappropriate to be shown on our network. I can imagine how displeasing this could be to hear as you would like to promote this video so that you can show hunting in a positive manner, however, we are also bound by our policies and protocols and according to Google’s policies, promotions such as these cannot be allowed to run.”
That’s right. Hunting, even when presented as a healthy method of conservation, is considered animal cruelty.
RMEF wasn’t having it. Neither were U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.). They sent a letter to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai expressing not only their displeasure in the censorship but also the corporate-political virtue signaling policy to unilaterally decide for all Google users that hunting was now “animal cruelty.” Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester also sent a separate letter.
Sen. Daines and Rep. Gianforte called the move a “troubling precedent” and called on Google to “immediately change this policy.” They also requested Pichai meet to discuss Montana’s and the United States’ hunting heritage.
Google’s Disparaging Parade
The thing is, this is just another step in the parade of Google trampling on free speech and silencing disfavored rights and sports. YouTube, owned by Google, attempted to terminate firearms supplier Brownell’s channel in 2018. They reversed course only after a social media outrage. In 2012, Google assigned a family status to its Google Shopping function. After that, firearm-related products were banned, even though the recreational shooting sports is constitutionally-protected and enjoyed by millions of families.
Google isn’t alone in this. Family-owned Sportsman’s Shop in East Earl, Penn., became victim to similar corporate-political virtue signaling by Facebook when they had their ad for American flags dropped. They were invited in Fox & Friends to explain how it didn’t involve firearms, but the red, white and blue.
Just Google It
Google might use its own search functions to learn a few things. They’d learn that RMEF has permanently protected more than 1,700 square miles of prime elk habitat for all to enjoy. The group is also the primary driver behind elk restoration to Wisconsin in 1995, Kentucky in 1997, Tennessee in 2000, Ontario in 1998, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2001, Missouri in 2011, Virginia in 2012 and West Virginia in 2016.
Google might also learn that hunter-conservationists are the catalyst for elk recovery and many other wildlife species. Since 1937, more than $12.1 billion has been paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers to the Pittman-Robertson Fund, an excise tax on each firearm, bullet and shotshell produced. That’s funded wildlife habitat restoration and wildlife recovery to the healthiest populations in more than a century.
Sustainable hunting is far from cruel. It’s helping elk thrive. Google, however, is choking free expression.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.