Why Ban Books When You Can Simply Cancel Then? By James Reed
Amazon now is showing why critics of the monopoly concept from Lord Acton to Major Douglas, to Eric Butler, and Arnie Luks, have hit the nail on its rusty head. Amazon has become so big and powerful now, especially due to the Covid-1984 conspiracy, the president-destroying scam, that it just does what it likes, as Big Tech has done, the censoring of a president of the United States is a clear example. Here is a great rundown by Abigail Shrier, whom I know nothing about, detailing this.
“If you wanted to eliminate disfavored ideas from a society, you’d begin by aggregating most of the world’s books onto a single platform. You’d hope to create a global network of gargantuan warehouses, automated to allow next-day fulfillment of customer desires. If you were wildly successful, your company might one day control five sixths of U.S. book sales and generate a market capitalization that rivals the GDP of Canada.
If you also delivered groceries, clothing, and hardware during a pandemic, and hosted businesses’ websites, too—you might become so integral to people’s lives, they would be hard-pressed to quit you. Customers spoiled by the miracle of having milk and toilet paper delivered same-day to their door would be disinclined to protest as you began eliminating books, especially if it was just a few at a time. You’d have become the hand that feeds them; they’d be smart enough not to bite.
Writers themselves might object. But their agents would fall silent; they’d have other clients to think of. Publishers—whose continued viability depends on this central pipeline—would be loath to offer more than token resistance. A momentary stifling of conscience would seem small sacrifice to ensure their other books were spared. Forget the “firemen” from Fahrenheit 451: You needn’t burn forbidden books if people can’t buy them in the first place.
Last week, Ryan Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, vanished from “the world’s largest bookstore.” The hardbacks, the paperbacks—even the used copies of When Harry Became Sally sold by third-party sellers through Amazon—poof, gone. When questioned by Anderson’s publisher, Amazon lamely pointed to a new policy that permits it to bar “inappropriate and offensive” works and also “hate speech.” It never bothered to offer proof or explain how Anderson’s book ran afoul of these guidelines; it apparently didn’t think it needed to.
The New York Post’s editorial board attempted to explain why Amazon targeted this particular three-year old book: Anderson’s “scholarly analysis of transgenderism . . . questions politically correct sacred cows.” But there are plenty of other politically-incorrect volumes sold on Amazon, including Anderson’s 2012 book, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense—a conservative objection to gay marriage. I suspect What is Marriage’s home on Amazon.com will remain undisturbed—not for lack of controversy, but for lack of relevance.
And here we get to the key difference between the two books: The legality of gay marriage has been settled in America. Whatever people’s private feelings about gay marriage, its legality in America is beyond dispute, and its acceptance by American society, widespread. Opposing it is a dead issue, a loser. And as Amazon well knows, no book is likely to change that.
But transitioning minors—that’s another story. For all the sloganeering about how the sanctity of affirmation-based treatment is settled practice, it isn’t. Leading psychotherapists have challenged “affirmative care” and its abuses have been acknowledged in open court. J.K. Rowling’s well-publicized alarm at the spike in transgender identification among teen girls, followed by the publication of my book, encouraged a widespread backlash against the idea that it is wrong or repressive to question the protocols governing the medical transition of minors.
More importantly, the very week Anderson’s book disappeared, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which is now headed for a vote by the Senate. If it passes, it will grant biological males who self-identify as “women” an all-access pass to girls’ and women’s sports and safe spaces.
Should a biologically male convict gain access to a women’s prison based only on self-identification as a “woman”? Should a biologically male high school student be entitled to compete in women’s wrestling or sprinting? Anderson’s book argues “no,” for reasons lawmakers might be curious to discover. Which is why, in the end, Amazon picked this week to delete a three-year old book.
Some will argue it is Amazon’s right to drop a book. Though it possesses many of the frightful powers of government and few of the limitations—Amazon is not the government. As a private company, many argue, it retains the right to stock its shelves with whatever it chooses. As someone put it to me on Twitter, “Publix stopped carrying my favorite salad dressing. You know what? I went to another store and bought it.”
This is the “Colorado Bakeshop” argument, which the Supreme Court considered in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Private businesses might have the right not to sell certain things customers want. It’s my cakeshop, damn it, runs the argument. If the proprietor doesn’t want to create a cake celebrating a gay wedding, or anything else that violates his conscience—maybe he shouldn’t have to.
But the argument is inapt: Amazon isn’t a neighborhood bakery. Small independent bookstores can (and often do) claim to be in the business of promoting a certain kind of speech. There are Christian bookstores and feminist bookstores and everything in between. And forcing such stores to sell books they don’t like would compromise the owners’ free-speech rights by forcing them to engage in what is arguably a form of compelled speech. But Amazon operates on a vast scale. Scale is the difference between homicide and genocide, a pickpocket and Bernie Madoff.
Amazon gladly carries Mein Kampf without fear that anyone will attribute its anti-Semitism to the bookseller because Amazon distributes millions of titles.
Nor is it honest to argue that we can impose no restraints on private companies. Businesses are already thoroughly regulated—in terms of whom they may refuse to serve, the minimum pay, and maximum hours and workplace conditions owed to employees. Thanks to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, private employers may even be barred from insisting that male employees wear a male uniform. Forcing a multinational on which nearly every American publisher depends to carry the widest array of books imposes no more significant limitation on its freedom.
But most importantly, the Colorado Bakeshop comparison fails because when a small bookshop refuses to carry a specific title, that act carries no significant market consequences. A reader could march into another bookstore and order Anderson’s book. Not so with the pipeline through which five-sixths of America’s books flow.”
As hard as it will be, people need to move away from Amazon, put up with inconvenience and cut the giant down to size, think Jack and the Bean Stalk …opts, is that now banned? Shop local even if it costs more, and takes longer. We need to cancel Amazon.