Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon Delists GLBT, Feminists, and Classic Books

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There I was happily tweeting the antics of Mayhem and Destruction, when I learned about Amazon.com delisting books written by the GLBT community and feminists.   Note that I said Amazon.Com as it seems that this problem has not yet extended itself to Amazon.Ca or UK.

Among some of the books delisted are:

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Yes Means Yes

Heather Has Two Mommies

James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

Annie Proulx Brokeback Mountain

Full Frontal Feminism

A full list of the books that have been delisted can be found here.  If this were not enough to enrage you, apparently Mein Kampf as well as From the Pit to the Palace: Conquering the Spirit of Homosexuality and A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality are still listed.  Apparently anti-gay hatred and rantings of one of the worst murderers in history are acceptable but somehow GLBT and Feminist literature is too adult.  This is a failure of epic proportions. 

Amazon released a statement to PW:

Amazon Says Glitch to Blame for “New” Adult Policy
By Rachel Deahl & Jim Milliot — Publishers Weekly, 4/12/2009 5:49:00 PM

A groundswell of outrage, concern and confusion sprang up over the weekend, largely via Twitter, in response to what authors and others believed was a decision by Amazon to remove adult titles from its sales ranking. On Sunday evening, however, an Amazon spokesperson said that a glitch had occurred in its sales ranking feature that was in the process of being fixed. The spokesperson added that there was no new adult policy.

For most of the weekend on Twitter, in conversations with the hash tag “#amazonfail,” users were discussing the fact that the e-tailer was removing the sales rankings for books that it deemed featured “adult content.” Many readers, and writers, decried the fact that Amazon appears to be removing the sales ranking for titles that feature gay and lesbian characters and/or themes.

The director of the Erotic Authors Association, who goes by the pen name Erastes, told PW that many of her members “noticed their titles had been stripped of their sales rankings” on Amazon. One, Mark Probst, contacted a customer service representative at Amazon and wrote about the exchange on his blog. Probst wrote that the Amazon rep responded to his inquiry by saying that “‘adult’ material” is being excluded from appearing in “some searches and best seller lists” as a “consideration of our entire customer base.”

Whether a glitch or new policy, titles like James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain are among the titles who have lost their ranking. (Publishers Weekly, taken in entirety because their site is seriously swamped right now)

I think that we should call this exactly what it is, a modern day book burning. This “supposed glitch” has been occurring since FEBRUARY.  If certain customers are uncomfortable with specific reading material, it is their right not to purchase it, but to exclude others from having the freedom to choose what they are going to read is CENSORSHIP.   The rights of one individual should not override the rights of another. Clearly this is purposeful as the top 5 returns when one enters homosexual on Amazon reveals the following:

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Amazon should not be allowed to get away with this.  Take the time and add your name to this online petition. To call & ask for a refund on gift certificates: Amazon's customer service number (in the US) is 1-800-201-7575 Follow the conversation on twitter at #amazonfail 

Even if we were to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was some sort of computer glitch, I find it interesting that the books that are being removed are those written by marginalized groups while the ones promoting the hatred are STILL LISTED.  Glitches usually happen randomly and this seems far to calculating to just be some sort of error.   When we consider the fact that two states approved gay marriage last week, does the timing of this whole fiasco not seem to be just a little be too convenient?  I think the fundies are trying to sell us their special brand of kool aid again.  

Knowledge is power and this is exactly why slaves were not allowed to learn to read.  Once you are exposed to an idea you cannot unring a bell.  The fundies know very well that a society that is ignorant can be controlled and once someone is taught to think critically they can assess ideas and recognize propaganda for what it is.  A thinking person is the greatest threat to a fascist state. In the printed word one will find some of the greatest expressions of human thought and emotion; we only have to reach for it to be informed.  If access is denied through censorship, ideas that would serve as a beacon of light to grow and nourish society fail to resonate and we become a culture of mediocrity, populated by automatons. 

H/T Uncool, Feministe and  Lilth Saint Crow


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