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I'm not projecting anything on "Paranormal Kitty."

Read his/her first post regarding the Amazon de-listing, a vicious, stupid, yes, personal attack on anyone who would dare to disagree with her/him. That I dare to tangle with this person is somehow off-limits? I think not.

Paranormal Kitty is a fascist and a coward, who ducked and dodged every point I brought up, who is incapable of writing a refutation of something that offends him or her, beyond name-calling & suppression. S/he refused to deal with the essence of whether Mein Kampf should be banned from Amazon, slipping, sliding, and ducking around the issue.

Anything that s/he thinks should be suppressed is something I'd enjoy reading. I can make up my own mind as to whether the book is science, propaganda, or religion.

(WRT to Goodreads, I note that one of the one-star reviews cites a researcher named Kenneth Zucker, who gave a favorable blurb to Abigail Schrier's book, which "Paranormal Kitty" will probably also want to ban.)

With people like you controlling the culture, the government won't have to censor anything.
You need to take the tinfoil hat off and chill. This is a discussion between writers, not the culture war you imagine in your head.
 

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I understand the appeal of celebrating a controversial book's removal when said book is advocating a disgusting position.

But many views we all consider obvious & right now were once considered controversial and/or disgusting.

Amazon having this power is still a threat to free speech & celebrating Amazon (or others) using this power is still a pro-censorship position.
 

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I think this thread went awry in part because it's not always clear which type of censorship we're talking about. We're even discussing if there's a difference anymore. I admit, in the past I've viewed censorship by private institutions as no big deal. I'm starting to reconsider that stance, but I still wouldn't call people who who hold it as pro-censorship. I'm still unsure whether Amazon or Twitter or whatever tech companies you want to insert here should be forced to permit use of their platform to individuals regardless of what they're using it for. It's not clear cut, at least not to me.
 

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I admit, in the past I've viewed censorship by private institutions as no big deal. I'm starting to reconsider that stance, but I still wouldn't call people who who hold it as pro-censorship. I'm still unsure whether Amazon or Twitter or whatever tech companies you want to insert here should be forced to permit use of their platform to individuals regardless of what they're using it for. It's not clear cut, at least not to me.
This is the part that I'm getting hung up on. People have the right to say they don't think LGBTQ folks should have the same rights as straight people (this is one of the arguments that guy is making in When Harry Became Sally), but as an individual who also has rights, if someone comes along and tries to spew that crap on my blog or Facebook page, they're getting blocked, no question about it. They have a right to say it, but I have the right to refuse to let them spew their hatred in my space. So if I have the right to make that decision for spaces I control, why doesn't Amazon?
 

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This is the part that I'm getting hung up on. People have the right to say they don't think LGBTQ folks should have the same rights as straight people (this is one of the arguments that guy is making in When Harry Became Sally), but as an individual who also has rights, if someone comes along and tries to spew that crap on my blog or Facebook page, they're getting blocked, no question about it. They have a right to say it, but I have the right to refuse to let them spew their hatred in my space. So if I have the right to make that decision for spaces I control, why doesn't Amazon?
Exactly. That's what I'm hung up on as well.

I don't know anything about that book other than it's unfortunate title, but I'm sure customers complained, otherwise the book would still be there. I don't think Amazon is ideologically aligned with anything but money, which is why (with this example) I have a hard time seeing it as suppressed speech so much as a business trying to avoid bad press. But then again, that's also how I view the Gina Carano situation, and some people lost their minds over that, so idk.
 

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But then again, that's also how I view the Gina Carano situation, and some people lost their minds over that, so idk.
I agree with you. The thing about free speech is, people have the right to spew their hateful screed if they want to. But then they have to also take the consequences of that speech when other people exercise their right to remove themselves from association with that person.
 

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I don't think freedom of speech is meant to mean freedom from consequences - at least, it probably shouldn't mean that anyway.

But, I do think we should be careful about how much consolidation we allow in media, social or otherwise, when so-called private entities start growing to the point where they essentially control the culture and/or dominate the conversation. Regardless one's political views, religion, or ideology, one or two companies controlling most of the space nearly everyone uses for communication probably isn't healthy.
 

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I don't think freedom of speech is meant to mean freedom from consequences - at least, it probably shouldn't mean that anyway.
I don't think it's meant to mean that, either. But I think a lot of the people who are the most vociferous about their right to free speech often think that it means that.
 

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I don't think the sign metaphor really works as is. It's not so much forcing someone to put up a sign they don't like.

It's more:

A single landlord owns 75% of the rental properties in a city where most people rent. He also supports a particular candidate for mayor, and so he doesn't allow anyone to put up signs for the other candidate. It's his property. He can do it (according to his rental contracts). But it's certainly not in the spirit of free speech.

Saying Amazon removing a book is a consequence is true, but it's missing the point. The point is not that free speech is freedom from consequences. It's that speech isn't really free if Amazon can remove any book, for any reason, given their level of market control.
 

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I don't think the sign metaphor really works as is. It's not so much forcing someone to put up a sign they don't like.

It's more:

A single landlord owns 75% of the rental properties in a city where most people rent. He also supports a particular candidate for mayor, and so he doesn't allow anyone to put up signs for the other candidate. It's his property. He can do it (according to his rental contracts). But it's certainly not in the spirit of free speech.

Saying Amazon removing a book is a consequence is true, but it's missing the point. The point is not that free speech is freedom from consequences. It's that speech isn't really free if Amazon can remove any book, for any reason, given their level of market control.
But the speech is free. He can say whatever he likes. And the book is easy to find on Kobo. Amazon may have 75% of the market share, but all 100% of the market can go to Kobo if they so wish.

Also, that analogy is flawed. In a city, visibility is limited to where people physically travel. There aren’t the same limitations on the internet. You can go anywhere on the net in the click of a mouse.
 

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No, it's the same thing. People can travel anywhere in a city. People can travel anywhere on the net. They travel to certain places/sites more, but all of them are accessible.

Yes, there are gated neighborhoods some places, but let's assume there are no gated neighborhoods in this city. I don't think there are any in mine. In the greater metro area, yes, but not in the city limits (though I have not checked). (Even so, there are "gated communities" on the net too, password protected forums, secret Facebook groups, etc.)

You can swap in commercial real estate if that metaphor works better for you.

I think I'm going to peace out of this conversation bc we're obviously talking around each other. If you don't think Amazon's (or Facebook's or whatever tech giant's) market share has an impact on how free speech is, then we don't really have anything to talk about. Whether or not a book is available on Kobo isn't really the point. Shayne, I think you have good intentions, but I get the sense you don't wish to understand my point, and so this conversation is, well, pointless.

Some other people here are trying to make this into a black and white thing, but it's really not. No one is saying Amazon should have to publish anything. We're asking what it means that Amazon can choose not to publish anything for any reason. What if they chose not to publish books featuring LBTQ characters? Or interracial couples? What if they said it was because of money/for business reasons? It's easy to support their right to remove content when it's content you don't like.
 

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The thing that keeps me going back and forth in my head is I don't know the history of the publishing business well. I don't even know if it would be relevent, considering how society and tech has changed. It seems like some things are getting better (less gate-keeping) while other things are worsening (consolidated wealth and power).

It's hard to completely discount what Crystal's pointing out, even if it's technically still possible to sell your book. My analogy would be Amazon owns all the major freeways, and the people it bans from them have to travel the long way on less traveled dirt roads. It's not censorship, but it's incapacitating. I'd be curious if any of the authors previously banned from Amazon have made it on other platforms afterward. I feel like after the ban they disappear.

We may not care about one individual instance of this based on how repugnant we find the book's message or author, but I think cautious posters are focusing on the precedent it sets.
 

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Some other people here are trying to make this into a black and white thing, but it's really not. No one is saying Amazon should have to publish anything. We're asking what it means that Amazon can choose not to publish anything for any reason. What if they chose not to publish books featuring LBTQ characters? Or interracial couples? What if they said it was because of money/for business reasons? It's easy to support their right to remove content when it's content you don't like.
This is why I don't think I'm going to reach an easy breezy conclusion on this topic. I don't see those as likely examples of something that could happen, but that's probably part of what's informing my opinion. And circumstances change.
 

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What if they chose not to publish books featuring LBTQ characters? Or interracial couples? What if they said it was because of money/for business reasons? It's easy to support their right to remove content when it's content you don't like.
Realistically in the year 2021? They would lose money and become the target of protests and boycotts. There's a reason that the complainers tend to be of certain extreme viewpoints. Their opinions are not popular because they spread hate and lies. Amazon removes them for monetary reasons when they start getting complaints because they know better than to piss off their customers.

I've said it before, but I just find it hard to give a rat's ass about people who advocate for their fellow citizens to be treated like subhumans, to remove their rights to marry, get medical treatment, hold jobs, even have their vote counted, then turn around and moan about their free speech. Especially considering the overlap between people of these opinions and people who have long advocated for unregulated capitalism. They just want to have their cake and eat it too.
 

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No, it's the same thing. People can travel anywhere in a city. People can travel anywhere on the net. They travel to certain places/sites more, but all of them are accessible.
Not with the same ease, though. I can go wherever I want on the net without ever leaving my chair. Not nearly so easy to go anywhere in a city.


I think I'm going to peace out of this conversation bc we're obviously talking around each other. If you don't think Amazon's (or Facebook's or whatever tech giant's) market share has an impact on how free speech is, then we don't really have anything to talk about. Whether or not a book is available on Kobo isn't really the point. Shayne, I think you have good intentions, but I get the sense you don't wish to understand my point, and so this conversation is, well, pointless.
Kobo was just an example. I used it because it was the only store I checked. But I'm sure there are plenty of other places that book is available, too.

I do understand your point. And I agree that Amazon's market share does have a large impact on people's ability to get their message out. Where I'm getting hung up is on people's insistence on labeling the issue as one of free speech/censorship. Because free speech guarantees you the right to say what you believe - it doesn't guarantee you a platform on which to say it. I know it's a semantic issue, but as writers, I believe semantics matter. So, yes, I think it's a large problem, and it gives one company way too much power in the grand scheme of things. I would just be more comfortable talking about it as something other than a free speech issue.


Some other people here are trying to make this into a black and white thing, but it's really not. No one is saying Amazon should have to publish anything. We're asking what it means that Amazon can choose not to publish anything for any reason. What if they chose not to publish books featuring LBTQ characters? Or interracial couples? What if they said it was because of money/for business reasons? It's easy to support their right to remove content when it's content you don't like.
You're right, it's very easy to agree when it's content I don't like. And no, I wouldn't like it if they chose not to publish books with LGBT characters or interracial couples. It would still be their right, though. And I know it's a very slippery slope, to get from one to the other, so I definitely understand people's concern.

What it means, I think, is that we've screwed ourselves over pretty hard. Because by going exclusive with Amazon instead of making our stuff available everywhere else, we helped it to get even more of a foothold over the other retailers than it already had.
 

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It's hard to completely discount what Crystal's pointing out, even if it's technically still possible to sell your book. My analogy would be Amazon owns all the major freeways, and the people it bans from them have to travel the long way on less traveled dirt roads. It's not censorship, but it's incapacitating. I'd be curious if any of the authors previously banned from Amazon have made it on other platforms afterward. I feel like after the ban they disappear.

We may not care about one individual instance of this based on how repugnant we find the book's message or author, but I think cautious posters are focusing on the precedent it sets.
Now that's an analogy that I can 100% agree with.

And I definitely agree - the precedent is very worrisome. I have no idea what we can do about it, though.
 

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This is why I don't think I'm going to reach an easy breezy conclusion on this topic. I don't see those as likely examples of something that could happen, but that's probably part of what's informing my opinion. And circumstances change.
This is kind of where I am right now. But then I think 'how far is it, really, between banning that hateful piece of trash book, to banning books with LGBT characters?' And given some of the stuff I've seen in the news lately, I have to conclude that it's maybe not quite as far as I'd like to think.
 

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I think this thread went awry in part because it's not always clear which type of censorship we're talking about. We're even discussing if there's a difference anymore. I admit, in the past I've viewed censorship by private institutions as no big deal. I'm starting to reconsider that stance, but I still wouldn't call people who who hold it as pro-censorship. I'm still unsure whether Amazon or Twitter or whatever tech companies you want to insert here should be forced to permit use of their platform to individuals regardless of what they're using it for. It's not clear cut, at least not to me.
Right now, if you want to publish a book, there are always several alternatives. If you want to speak out on social media, there are alternatives. But at what point does a big tech giant become a 'monopoly', and then at what point is it worth worrying about such a monopoly, if there ever is one? I think that is the real question.
 
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