Wikipedia has a project website called "Simple English".
It is like its better known brother, an user-generated encyclopaedia which allows anyone to add or to change entries. The only caveat is, it has to be in...Simple English.
Wordy is in. Verbose is out. Literally.
So far, so good.
And who knows, maybe it might help foreigners just learning English; or immigrants to the US who 40 years hence, still don't speak a lick of the local language -- but that's just me the ex-English instructor talking snarkily.
Our original point was that Wikipedia had an anti-Israel bias, but I contend it's part of a larger bias: one to do with a progressive bias.
There are so many articles I've screen-captured in the past to illustrate my point, in hopes I would write precisely this type of post, but sadly, my database imploded when my last Hard Drive went to meet its Maker.
But I do recall two entries which do give you a flavour of what I mean.
Without further ado, I give you two Simple English entries -- one for ex-President Bill Clinton. The other for President George W. Bush.
(Remember, this is most probably intended for children doing their homework, or foreigners trying to grasp the complexities of topics in their simplest English terms)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 43rd President of the United States
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the current President of the United States of America. He is a Republican, and Dick Cheney is his Vice President. He is from Midland, Texas. He has a ranch in Crawford, Texas, which is near Waco.
Bush was born in Connecticut. He went to school at Yale University, which is famous for a high standard of education. He lived briefly in Midland, Texas on a ranch. He joined the Texas Air National Guard (part of the United States National Guard) during the Vietnam War, but did not fight in Vietnam.
During the 2000 United States presidential election, Florida was a state where the election was not clear. It took more than a month to know who won. The Supreme Court made a decision to stop recounting votes, and at that time Bush was declared the winner. The election is still controversial.
After the attacks of September 11 2001, Bush ordered an invasion of Afghanistan. Later he wanted something done about Iraq. Bush asked the United Nations to take away all Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. The United Nations refused because there was no proof Iraq had any weapons. He sent the United States Army into Iraq on March 20, 2003 and took control of the country. Saddam Hussein was captured and Iraq killed him as punishment for War Crimes. Even today, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Elections happened for the first time in the country, but violence continues.
Bush sometimes has trouble speaking in public, and sometimes makes a mistake or says something opposite to what he means. These mistakes have lead to the creation of the phrase "Bushism". Many websites on the Internet collect Bushisms.
A lot of people have made arguments against Bush because of his views, mainly on the War in Irag.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON - 42nd President of the United States
William Jefferson Clinton (born August 19, 1946), better known as Bill Clinton, was the 42nd president of the United States. He served from 1993 to 2001. He was 46 years old when he was elected. His major opponents were George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole. Clinton was the first president from the Baby Boom generation and was the third youngest president in the U.S. He is a Democrat. Clinton's supporters say he helped bring the economic boom of the 1990s. His presidency was very controversial to most Republicans.
President Clinton was accused of wrongdoing by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 1998 during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Although he lied that she did not give him oral sex, he was found to have done nothing wrong by the U.S. Senate in February 1999. The scandal had little effect on his popularity, and he left office with some of the highest approval ratings of any president.
...the differences in tone between these two entries are as chalk and cheese.
In the Bill Clinton entry, gone are the niggling details regarding controversies with the exception of the Monica Lewinsky case. But they could have hardly avoided mentioning HER.
Simply nothing about Whitewater, his law licence suspension for 5 years in Arkansas stemming from his perjury charges, his ignominious last day in Office Presidential Pardons. Nada.
In the George Bush entry, the emphasis is completely different. Let me give you a few examples.
- Bill Clinton gets a pass for being a draft dodger, but George Bush's entry mentions that though he served in the National Guard, he didn't fight in Vietnam.
- Bill Clinton is "controversial" to most Republicans, without mentioning he was controversial to a whole slew of people, regardless of affiliation, making it seem it was an one-way street of hatred.
- George Bush's handling of the Iraq War is, of course, fair game. However, it would be helpful if they could actually spell the country's name correctly...
But no mention of Bill Clinton's diplomatic failures as President are mentioned at all, even for purposes of historical clarity. The entry for Iraq ends on a sour note, by noting violence still continues. Since none of President Clinton's foreign policies are mentioned, we can only speculate how they would've been phrased.
- Whilst George Bush's linguistic laspes and popularity receive their own specialised, inherently negative entries, Bill Clinton has NO sub-categories; in fact, though as mentioned, the Lewinsky scandal is noted, the entry ends with a cheery:
"The scandal had little effect on his popularity, and he left office with some of the highest approval ratings of any president."
Wikipedia, on paper, is a fantastic and handy online guide for people who need quick information on topics. I use it all the time.
But to ignore their slithering insinuations, no matter how many times they cite certain topics have been flagged for their controversial or biased tone, the fact remains:
Many of their entries tend to highlight the negative whenever a conservative subject is referenced, and they are more forgiving when the liberal viewpoint is being discussed.
Transferring the blame to the users should not fool anyone.
Bias is always top-down.
Pope Benedict/Margaret Thatcher's Entries Hijacked
Anti-Israeli Subversion on Wikipedia
BackSpin's Commenters Weigh In
Matt Sanchez' Wiki-Whacked Exposé
Avid Editor Notes Similar Behaviour on Digg.com