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Amazon.com Censorship

The National Coalition Against Censorship expressed “deep concern” at Amazon’s removal of the book on transgenderism, When Harry Became Sally.(1) The Coalition noted that “the book’s arguments are part of the public debate” and that the removal “threatens the marketplace of ideas” while contravening Amazon’s own stated acknowledgment that “providing access to the written word is important, including content that may be considered objectionable.”  They further noted that “Amazon has not defined what it considers hateful or offensive content,” facilitating arbitrary censorship of unfavored viewpoints without remedy or appeal. Amazon’s censorship is particularly serious, NCAC explained:

 

“Amazon is not like other booksellers.  It sells more than half of all print books and a significant share of e-books and audio books in the United States.  This gives the company an outsized role in shaping opinion and discourse.  When Amazon decides to remove a book, it matters not only to the author and their publisher, but to the entire public sphere.”

 

When Harry Became Sally was an Amazon and Washington Post bestseller, widely noted for its cogent writing and copious research.(2) The book’s publisher responded to Amazon, noting that the book had been delisted without explanation:

 

“Encounter Books is committed to publishing authors with differing views on a wide range of issues of public concern. We do this because a free society requires robust debate and spaces where dissenting opinions can be expressed unimpeded. If Amazon, which controls most of the book sales in America, has decided to delist a book with which some of its functionaries disagree, that is an unconscionable assault on free speech. It will have a chilling effect on the publishing industry and the free circulation of ideas. It must not be left to stand unchallenged.”(3)

 

Stonestreet and Carlson wrote on Breakpoint that some books banned by Amazon were “hateful, demeaning, and unhelpful,” whereas “others simply questioned the dominant narratives about homosexuality or gender dysphoria.”(4)  They described When Harry Became Sally as “one of the most thoroughly researched books on transgenderism.” They noted that the book “shares stories of people who aren’t supposed to exist,” including those who regret undergoing gender transition.  They concluded that “Anderson’s case is powerful. So powerful, apparently, that supporters of transgender ideology have resorted to coercion and name-calling, enlisting companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.”

 

References

1.  “Statement on Amazon’s Removal of When Harry Became Sally.”  National Coalition Against Censorship, March 4, 2021. https://ncac.org/news/amazon-book-removal 

2. Anderson, Ryan T. “Tweet message,” February 21, 2021. https://twitter.com/RyanTAnd/status/1363587820565184521 

3. “Statement on Amazon and the Delisting of When Harry Became Sally.”  Encounter Books, February 21, 2021. https://www.encounterbooks.com/features/statement-on-amazon/ 

4. Stonestreet, John, and David Carlson. “Amazon Bans When Harry Became Sally.” Breakpoint, February 25, 2021. https://breakpoint.org/amazon-bans-when-harry-became-sally/