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This is a tough subject. I support the right of a vendor to reject content because it's so objectionable they can't in good conscience carry it. But where and how we draw the line is really difficult.
 

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Do you think Mein Kampf should be removed from Amazon?
Why should anyone even care unless they've got Amazon points burning a hole in their pocket for it? That book is free online from multiple sources. It's also a historical document so it's not like it will disappear from the face of the earth should Amazon stop selling it. The ghost of Hitler is no danger of censorship.
 

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No, you have this backward. It would hardly be a heckler's veto to allow an author to sell a book.

What gives a heckler the right to say that my book shouldn't be sold?
No, I don't. It would be a 'heckler's veto' (not a veto, per se, but the idea is the same) if the owner of the store didn't want to sell the book and was forced to because of someone complaining.

It's not up to the heckler to say your book shouldn't be sold. It's up to the store to say whether they're going to allow it to be sold.
 

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Publicly traded means that it is subject to a variety of restrictions and benefits, all of which flow from the legal system. So yes, it does mean public.
No, it does not mean public, in the sense that anyone has the right to do whatever they want with it. Publicly traded means that shares of the company are traded on the stock exchange. It doesn't mean that it's just owned by the public in general.
 

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I thought your analogy about political signs on lawns made no sense. It had zero relevance whatever to the issue.

At least mine had relevance. If there's a city-owned warehouse, unless the stuff in it is harmful to others, it should be rented out first-come first-serve.

Do you think Mein Kampf should be removed from Amazon?
I thought it made perfect sense. A homeowner (Amazon) being forced to allow something on their property (a book they don't want to sell) by someone who thinks their rights are more important than the homeowner's.

Do you think that city-owned property shouldn't have any say in who uses their facilities?

Personally, I don't think it's up to the customer to say. Amazon sells it. Chapters and Indigo don't, because Heather Reisman doesn't want it sold in her stores. It's up to them, not anyone else.
 

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I agree with David.

"Is Amazon banning a book censorship" is not the important question here. Splitting hairs over the definition of censorship is failing to see the forest for the trees.

"Is Amazon's ability to boot authors and books for any reason a problem" is the important question.

Or maybe: what is free speech? Not the first amendment, specifically, or the legal definition. But what is free speech when giant tech companies have the ability to stifle any speech they want, for any reason? Is our speech still free if Amazon or Facebook can shut us down for no reason?

It concerns me. Especially since Amazon's content policy allows them the latitude to ban anything, for any reason.
 

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Publicly traded does not actually mean public.

You actually seem to have this backward. Forcing Amazon to carry something they don't want to would actually be allowing a heckler's veto. Basically, allowing a complaining author to dictate to Amazon what they should have to sell, rather than allowing them to decide for themselves.

Here's the thing about free speech. It's free, within certain limits. Free speech is not a defense to slander or libel, for example. Also, you have the freedom to say what you want, but you don't have the guarantee of a platform to say it on. And your right to say it only extends as far as someone else's right not to be imposed on by it. You can't stand on a street corner and scream into a bullhorn to get your message across, for example, because that infringes on someone else's rights. You can't express your free speech on private property, because someone else owns that property. You can publish your manifesto, but you can't force a book store to carry it against their will, because that would violate their right to free speech in saying 'no, I don't agree with this manifesto and I refuse to sell it in my store'.
But to you this isn't even a free speech issue. The essence of what you're saying is that Amazon has the right to remove goods from their shelves for good reason, bad reason, or no reason.
 

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But to you this isn't even a free speech issue. The essence of what you're saying is that Amazon has the right to remove goods from their shelves for good reason, bad reason, or no reason.
It's not a censorship issue. And that's not the essence of what I'm saying, that is exactly what I'm saying. Amazon can allow stuff to be sold on their site or not at their discretion. Because it's their store. To do it for no reason would be really stupid, but it is their store, so it's their choice.
 

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I agree with David.

"Is Amazon banning a book censorship" is not the important question here. Splitting hairs over the definition of censorship is failing to see the forest for the trees.

"Is Amazon's ability to boot authors and books for any reason a problem" is the important question.

Or maybe: what is free speech? Not the first amendment, specifically, or the legal definition. But what is free speech when giant tech companies have the ability to stifle any speech they want, for any reason? Is our speech still free if Amazon or Facebook can shut us down for no reason?

It concerns me. Especially since Amazon's content policy allows them the latitude to ban anything, for any reason.
The fact that Amazon can ban anything concerns me, too. But I can't really see that there's anything we can do about it, other than to go wide so as not to have all our eggs in a single basket.
 

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I used to firmly think this was not a an issue of censorship, but some of the arguments have left me scratching my head and going down the rabbit hole on Google. I guess I can add corporatocracy to my vocab. Talk about a doomscroll.
 

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The fact that something is not government or legal censorship does not mean it is not censorship in the broader sense.

Feel free to look at Oxford, Merriam-Webster or other dictionaries. None of them that I checked in a 5-minute search limited censorship exclusively to government prohibition. Most say something like "the prohibition or suppression of information" by anyone.

When there are plenty of platforms for information, it's hard to argue that information is suppressed. When there are few, or only one which controls the majority, it seems to portentially fit the definition of censorship.

In fact, many have hollered "censorship!" in the last few years when certain dominant social media platforms have blocked, banned or otherwise suppressed them.
 

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Feel free to look at Oxford, Merriam-Webster or other dictionaries. None of them that I checked in a 5-minute search limited censorship exclusively to government prohibition. Most say something like "the prohibition or suppression of information" by anyone.

When there are plenty of platforms for information, it's hard to argue that information is suppressed. When there are few, or only one which controls the majority, it seems to portentially fit the definition of censorship.
Not allowing someone to sell something on their site isn't suppressing that thing, though. It can still be made available on many other sites.

Amazon may have the most customers/market share, but it doesn't control customers. As long as there are plenty of other sites it doesn't control anything because people are free to shop from as many sites as they want. And there are many sites on which to sell one's work. Kobo, Apple, Google Play, BN, Smashwords, just to name the bigger ones. People talk as if Amazon rejecting your book is akin to censorship, but that's only because they give Amazon so much power over them by being exclusive. They have the option of many other places to sell, and since a book rejected by Amazon won't be in Select, it's free to be wide.
 

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In fact, many have hollered "censorship!" in the last few years when certain dominant social media platforms have blocked, banned or otherwise suppressed them.
The people hollering that tend to be massive hypocrites who only care when it's they who are being "censored" because in any instance where they don't like what someone else has to say they are hollering for that person to be silenced or even punished. They also tend to be people who think hard facts are just someone else's differing opinion and that the lies they believe are equally valid. Someone who thinks people should be jailed for "disrespecting the flag" has little credibility on the subject of free speech.
 

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Not allowing someone to sell something on their site isn't suppressing that thing, though. It can still be made available on many other sites.
It is precisely, by definition, suppressing that thing on their own site.

When that one site controls 70% of the market, that also constitutes significant suppression overall.

If, for example, 70% of a nation prohibits a certain thing, the fact that 30% remains does not obviate the fact that something is suppressed. It may not be entirely suppressed, but it has been suppressed to the 70% level.

I find many arguing "no censorship exists" using the fallacy of the excluded middle--the idea there is no gray area or no gradations of censorship--the idea that if there is no massive government intervention, there is no censorship or suppression. Yet that idea comes about only by trying to redefine the dictionary definition of "censorship" or "suppression" into "government censorship" or "government suppression."

There is such a thing as partial, or incomplete, or soft, censorship or suppression. Trying to deny that is trying to deny reality.
 

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It is precisely, by definition, suppressing that thing on their own site.

When that one site controls 70% of the market, that also constitutes significant suppression overall.
There's a big difference between deliberately trying to suppress something, and simply not allowing someone to sell that thing on a store site.

Just because that one site has 70% of the market share doesn't mean they actually control the customers. Any of the many people who shop on Amazon are completely and totally free to go elsewhere to find something that isn't available on Amazon.
 

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The people hollering that tend to be massive hypocrites who only care when it's they who are being "censored" because in any instance where they don't like what someone else has to say they are hollering for that person to be silenced or even punished. They also tend to be people who think hard facts are just someone else's differing opinion and that the lies they believe are equally valid. Someone who thinks people should be jailed for "disrespecting the flag" has little credibility on the subject of free speech.
Exactly.
 

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Although it looks like the situation might be in the process of resolution, this following controversy (surrounding a proposed law that would affect news article sharing on FB and other social media sites) is an interesting peek at how people view the power that big tech has concerning dissemination of speech. The part of it that FB users are complaining about is that basically all Australian news articles have been more-or-less blocked from their news feeds.

Australia news code: What’s this row with Facebook and Google all about? - BBC News
Tech Tent: Facebook v Australia - two sides to the story - BBC News
Facebook in Australia: What happened after news was blocked? - BBC News

One could easily say, "what's the big deal? ABC, SMH, NY Times, etc. all have their own websites. There are alternatives. Doesn't a social media site have the right to restrict whatever it chooses?" But that's not the reaction my Oz FB friends have right now, when they find there are now few, if any, news articles shared in their news feeds.
 

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Not allowing someone to sell something on their site isn't suppressing that thing, though. It can still be made available on many other sites.
That just happened with a book, When Harry Became Sally. It's been delisted in Amazon but is still available from the publisher's site. Lesson: every writer should have his/her own website, and should be prepared to, if necessary, rexograph their own books and send them out.

Joking about the rexograph, but the point is: be prepared.
 
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