Unacceptable, Amazon

UPDATE (LATER THAT DAY): Amazon claims it was a “glitch.” Dubiousness abounds. See the comments section of this post for more.

ORIGINAL POST: Twitter is aflame today, where it’s still Easter Day over in North America. For my part, I ran across the news on Tobias Buckell’s feed.

Right, Amazon, do you want to know why everyone is offended by what’s been done?

It’s because intelligent people — which are presumably a big part of your customer base, seeing as you’re selling books — can’t stand to be protected for their own good.1. They abhor it, they find it arrogant and stomach-turningly offensive. It reminds them of the way Communist governments have always presented propaganda “for the public good” while brutally suppressing different opinions.

If people have complained that they were offended by seeing a book on a topic that offends them, then you know what you should do?

(Well, really, if you weren’t out for their money, you would probably be best telling them to grow up and get lost. But since you are out for their money…)

You should offer them an opt-in filtration system. Don’t wanna see books on LGBT topics? Cool — click this button and we won’t show them on your computer while you’re logged in on your account. Don’t wanna see books on animal abuse? Hey, opt-in. Don’t wanna see true crime gore-fests? Hate SF? Can’t stand dating guides? Click, click, click.

The truth is, conservatives are intolerant, and the more liberal-minded are much more tolerant. All of the stereotypes to the contrary, it’s conservatives who bitched so much that Amazon de-ranked LGBT-related (or is it now going to be all sex-related, after a brief oops from Amazon HQ?) books — even books on the scientific study of the same — while all of the millions of liberal-minded people who could have complained to the point where Jerry Falwell and his kind would be delisted, haven’t done so.

Why? Because it is with liberal-minded people that free speech is valued. It is liberal-minded people who do not wish to live in a censorship-and-surveillance republic. So of course they’re not going to try and get involuntary filtration set up for everyone. They abhor it. But the conservatives? They don’t believe in freedom anyway.

Well, Amazon, we don’t share their slave mentality. And we know what you really care about. So until this is sorted, I will not be buying a single book from you.

Boycott is the word, folks. Oh, and you could sign this petition. Or do something more creative (though it  might not work).

9 thoughts on “Unacceptable, Amazon

  1. Exactly. It’s not that the “conservatives” don’t want to see things that offend *them*, it’s that they want to deny those things to everyone *else*. If it could truly be reduced to persuading them to avoid things they find offensive, they’d have chosen that solution long ago .. they’ve had ample opportunity to do so. What amazes me is that Amazon clearly doesn’t seem to understand this ..

  2. Seems to me we should all just go do our local bricks-and-mortar stores (granted, this is easier for some of us than others), buy a bunch of books, music, and DVDs, and then e-mail Amazon saying, “I just bought a whole lotta shit. And I didn’t buy it from you because you’re being dipshits.”

  3. Bruce,

    Exactly. It kills me just how much power left-wingers let these nuts have over the whole dialogue.


    Anytime. I hope it gets sorted soon.


    Yeah, well, I actually do most of my buying from an indie Korean etailer anyway — Amazon’s my backup only when that fails.


    Fishy indeed. I’m pretty doubtful given the fact that (a) they notified people of this as if it weren’t a glitch, and (b) it was only “adult” content — and from what I’ve heard, only adult “queer” content — that was affected.

    But I’ve beeen trying to heal my now-defaced toe for an hour, after hiking back from ruining my foot on the farthest reach of the mountain this morning. Gah!

  4. “Why? Because it is with liberal-minded people that free speech is valued. It is liberal-minded people who do not wish to live in a censorship-and-surveillance republic.”

    I have to disagree with you here – both sides have cranks that want to ban one form of speech or another. Liberals tend to be in favor of “politically correct language” and more likely to be thought and behavior police when it comes to things like smoking and other social ills than conservatives are. Conservatives seem to corner the market on sexual and other lifestyle “choices”. I don’t think either side of the aisle has a monopoly on censorship and surveillance, it’s just a matter of what they want to censor and observe.

  5. Someone in France messed up something there, and the error propagated across the entire system.

    My test case is coming up correctly when I search on it now, so at least part of the problem is fixed. Still no rank for that one, though.

  6. Conrad,

    While I’ll agree there are nutbags on both sides of the aisle, I get the impression the rightwing nutbags are more plentiful, and that they reflect the opinions of many more of the mainstream right than do the leftist nuts of the mainstream left.

    Otherwise, wouldn’t this sort of thing happen with Congregationalist crap that’s on sale at Amazon? Or skinhead/Nazi stuff?

    I suspect, though, that the intellectual left is starting to lean more and more away from censoriousness and surveillance thanks to the extremes that have crept up in recent years. It’ll take time to propagate, though.


    Oh, how usual: blame the French! :)

    As I say, it sounds fishy: why did some people get notification letters if this was a glitch? (Not that I’ve had time to follow the story today, but it smells fishy from the information I had yesterday. Could be true though.)

    Now, I just need to get some dinner!

  7. At this point, from everything I’ve seen, part of the search problem was separate from the ranking issue, and that seems to be fixed, but the ranking issue is still there, and varies from one country to another.

    And the other thing is, Amazon has not actually *apologized* for anything, and they needed to do that on Sunday. I think they’ve permanently lost a few very vocal customers, and there are a great many more who are disgruntled and ready to jump one way or the other, and the sooner an actual *apology* happens, rather than tossing aside problems and concerns as, “Oh, it’s a glitch”, the more it’s going to mitigate the damage. Every hour passing without an *apology* is just going to hurt them more.

    (If I had Jeff Bezos in front of me, I would be throwing a copy of _The Five Languages of Apology_ and telling him to use it to get himself some Clue. Of course, if he were in front of me, I’d have to go to the guest room to get the book, but maybe I could throw it at him in the breakfast nook instead of in my office.)

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