The following is about a month old, but evidently PG was asleep at the wheel when it first appeared.
From The Wall Street Journal:
Amazon. com Inc. said it recently removed a three-year-old book about transgender issues from its platforms because it decided not to sell books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.
The company explained its decision in a letter Thursday to Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The senators had written last month to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos requesting an explanation of why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon nor on its Kindle and Audible platforms.
“As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Amazon said in the letter, which was signed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, referring to sexual identities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, among others.
“When Harry Became Sally,” written by the conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, was published in February 2018. The book focuses on a variety of issues including gender identity.
“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” said Mr. Anderson and Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books, the New York-based nonprofit that published the book, in a statement Thursday in response to Amazon’s letter.
“There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria,” they added, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation. “Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process,” they said.
Amazon’s decision comes as the nation’s largest tech platforms are under increased scrutiny regarding the decisions they make over which content is acceptable. The senators, in their letter dated Feb. 24, characterized Amazon’s decision to remove the book as a signal “to conservative Americans that their views are not welcome on its platforms.”
. . . .
The senators in their letter had also asked Mr. Bezos whether Amazon had changed its content guidelines since 2018. In Thursday’s response, the company said it had indeed changed its guidelines since that year, without providing further details.
Amazon said it provides its customers “with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.”
“That said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content,” Amazon’s Mr. Huseman wrote. “All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we.”
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (PG apologizes for the paywall, but hasn’t figured out a way around it.)
PG doesn’t usually post items relating to current politics (Few other than historians and those who read history (like PG) cares much about past politics).
However, Amazon is such a dominant force in the book business that its decisions to remove a book or a class of books from the world’s largest bookstore due to what is, at least in the US, an author’s opinion concerning a political issue which is under continuing discussion and debate between reasonable people will certainly attract attention.
Again, for visitors from outside the US, the senators who sent Amazon the letter are Republicans, generally regarded as conservative. The state of Washington, where Amazon is headquartered, is presumably where those who made the decision concerning the book reside.
Washington is generally regarded as a relatively safe state for the Democratic party. The state has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1984. Both senators have been Democrats for the last twenty years.
Politically, the state is divided by what some call “The Cascade Curtain” referring to the Cascade Mountain range, located east of Seattle and the most populated portions of the state. The Cascades divides largely Democratic western Washington from largely Republican and rural eastern Washington.
Prevailing social attitudes tend to mirror political attitudes in Washington as well.
The technology boom in the Seattle area, lead by Microsoft and Amazon, has generated some very large fortunes while eastern Washington is a lot less prosperous. Average levels of education vary between the two regions as well. The Seattle tech boom also tends to attract a lot of employees who formerly lived much farther east in the US and, as would be expected, the newcomers brought their political opinions with them.
The thing that bothered PG the most about the reported action by Amazon is that it reminded PG of a very disturbing trend, at least in the United States, to “deplatform” those with different political beliefs than those who seek to apply this tactic. Basically, for a college professor, deplatforming may mean being fired. For an author, it may mean being deprived of any way to sell books and, in some cases, earn a living. Another term for the same thing is canceling an individual, essentially making them a societal non-person and the environment that makes this possible is cancel culture.
For PG, deplatforming by those who hold some degree of political, societal or business power is disturbingly similar to the concept of making someone an unperson as first described in George Orwell’s 1984. In that book, an unperson is someone who has been expunged by the state, someone of whom all trace has been erased.
While Amazon is not the state, it is much richer and, some would argue, more powerful than more than a few nation-states.
For example, in 2019, government revenue in The Netherlands totaled 355.96 billion euros, equal to about 423.66 billion US dollars. In 2020, Amazon’s total revenue was 386 billion dollars.
And Amazon doesn’t have to pay for an army, navy or air force.
PG cautions visitors to TPV that this is not a political blog and PG appreciates it when those who disagree with others who have commented do so with courtesy and respect.