Over the weekend, Congressman Greg Gianforte and Senator Steve Daines, no doubt hoping to manufacture some favorable press coverage over another non-issue, took to Twitter to condemn Google over an ad that the company didn’t approve because someone made a mistake.
On Gianforte’s Congressional web site, Gianforte demanded that Google approve pro-hunting advertisements after the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation apparently told the Congressman that Google banned all hunting ads:
“We therefore demand you reverse these prohibitions and request that Google reexamine their policy interpretations on prohibiting hunting promotions,” the letter states. “We also request a meeting to discuss the importance of Montana’s and the United States’ hunting heritage.”
There was an immediate practical concern with the demand, which was picked up in some incredibly uncritical coverage by some local TV news stations. Google doesn’t prohibit hunting ads, and the fact that the ad was temporarily blocked was simply a mistake, as the very conservative Washington Times notes:
“Google doesn’t have a policy prohibiting hunting ads. We do have a policy against ads that promote animal cruelty or feature gratuitous violence towards animals. In this case, we made a mistake and the ad is now approved to run,” a Google spokesperson told Montana’s KULR-8, the outlet reported.
“We always encourage advertisers to appeal if they feel that an ad was wrongly disapproved — this helps us improve our systems and processes.”
Never shy about ginning up some kind of nontroversy to bolster his Montana credentials, Gianforte—followed by Steve Daines and noted prairie dog hunter Donald Trump, Jr.—took to social media to decry the victimization experienced by conservatives online.
There is certainly a piece to write here about the spectacle of Daines, who hunts on private lands while calling them public and who has voted to confirm those who would turn the West’s recreation lands into uranium mines, or Gianforte, who lost a gubernatorial bid precisely because he doesn’t believe in public lands, pretending to be concerned about hunters, but the deeper irony is that Greg Gianforte spent the past two days arguing that tech companies should be forced to serve customers they don’t want to even though Gianforte has loudly, repeatedly, and financially argued that businesses should be allowed to discriminate against the LGBTQ community for ideological reasons.
Gianforte has long opposed non-discrimination ordinances that would prohibit businesses from discriminating against a class of customers and has argued that he supports the right of businesses to, for instance, refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples.
Back in 2014, he wrote an incredibly offensive letter to the Bozeman City Commission that equated transgender people with sexual offenders and argued that Bozeman would be a more business-friendly community if it were hostile to LGBTQ rights before contending that business owners had the First Amendment rights to serve whomever they want and discriminate against whomever they’d like to.
But now he is using his Congressional office to demand that a tech company run a certain class of ads and using that same office to demand a meeting with Google’s CEO to express his views.
Imagine the worldview that someone like Greg Gianforte holds. He not only believes that Montana voters are so stupid they’ll fall for this ploy that makes Tim Fox’s appeal to Chik-fil-A seem subtle, but he believes that enough of us share his bigoted views that it will work.
Worse yet, when the LGBTQ community suffers increased risk of suicide from discrimination and faces job discrimination in 30 states, including Montana, Gianforte is worried about the rights of hunters, hardly a protected class in need of government intervention.
At least we now know one thing for certain: when the principles Greg Gianforte pretends to uphold are in conflict, he’ll always side with bigotry.