Friday, November 12, 2010

What Amazon doesn't understand

If you've been on the internet in the last couple of days, I'm sure you've come across the news about Amazon selling a book that's a guide for pedophiles. After a huge outcry (and I'm guessing a fear of losing business at Christmastime), Amazon pulled said book from its site. They didn't pull the other items on their site that promote this vile practice though. Why would Amazon keep other items on their site that are so abhorrent? That seek to steal and maim the innocence of young children and forever taint their view of themselves and the world around them? Although my guess is that it all comes down to the almighty buck, they drum it up to one thing: Censorship.

Amazon claims that if they don't sell these items, that it's censorship. They seem to view themselves as the bastion of free speech and liberty.

But I think they've got it all wrong.

In this country, we have the right to say/write/think pretty much anything that tickles our fancy. If someone tries to stop us from doing these things, then we are being censored. That's pretty straightforward.

Here's where Amazon gets it wrong. Choosing not to sell an item is not censorship, it's using discernment. Every day we have to make choices. To differentiate between right and wrong. To take the high road or the low road. The choices we make say a lot about who we are and the character we embrace. This is true not just for individuals, but for companies, too. Just because you're a large corporation doesn't mean that you're free from having to make a distinction between that which is acceptable and that which is repugnant. Deciding not to sell a book does not keep the author from writing it, it keeps you from being a used as a megaphone to promote activities that are illegal and deplorable.

What are your choices saying about you?


Helen said...

So if I write a book and no one will publish it, is that censorship? Maybe I should sue the Joffrey Ballet for discrimination in not hiring me just because I have no training or talent in ballet. The logic seems the same here. They aren't selling these things to promote freedom of expression, but to make a buck.
Just because someone can do something, it doesn't mean they should do it.

jasonS said...

You are so right, Wendy (I first started out with an expletive but I deleted it). :)

It's not censorship to refuse to carry something that's despicable and gives them a platform to profit from something so vile. Ridiculously sad.

I may have to take my amazon ads off my site. Thanks for your wonderful, heartfelt response. Seriously.

bman said...

That's exactly right. They can choose whether or not to have terrible material on their website. The key is that whatever they decide to do, it's all coming back down on them in the end. So what's better? To piss off some creepy perverts or everyone else?

katdish said...

You're absolutely right. Folks are so afraid of being called intolerant that all discernment flys out the window. If it's not their responsibility to act responsibly as to what is sold on their site, then whose it is? Oh wait, that's right. It's no one's responsibility. There are no absolutes, no right and wrong. We're just supposed to wade thru the cesspool and move toward what makes up feel good about ourselves. (Sorry, mini rant.)

Dusty Rayburn said...

I agree with your assessment completely. That said, I am going to take a little unusual stance to my approach to Amazon... not saying it s the right one, just mine:

Instead of stopping my use of Amazon, I am going to step up my use purchasing as much wholesome stuff as I can through them. And leave comments and communicate my displeasure of the unwholesome items. In my opinion, customers are more likely to make a difference in Amazon's market approach than people who are not buying anything from them... this latest book being a point in case.

As I said, not saying mine is the correct approach, but it's the one I am attempting.

That said, there are PLENTY of things on Amazon that need addressing and I am in no way condoning those items or the sell thereof.

SarahBeeCreations said...

Thank you, Wendy. You summed up all my rantiness in a sane, logical manner which I appreciate.
I'm a big Amazon consumer as a Prime subscriber. I hate shopping. H A T E it. So to have somewhere I can purchase quality goods at great prices and have it shipped in two days without paying for it is a Godsend to me. Especially now that they are purchasing, I save money on wipes and cloth diapering supplies. They have made such a huge effort in the past year to court families with their new Amazon Mom program and other acquisitions which stand to save parents lots of money. It's a smart business decision for them to choose not to publish books of that nature.
I don't agree with censorship, but as you pointed out, it isn't censorship. When Billy had Snow Day published, it wasn't a simple thing. You have to court a publisher and they decide whether or not to print. It's a poor business choice to publish and distribute materials so blatantly harmful to children in such a horrid way. They recalled the infant formula that had bugs in it and consuming that would have less disastrous results.
Now, I don't care if they carry lard, sex toys, or porn, but distributing materials which have the clear intention to harm children through vile acts is unacceptable.
I will continue to ask for the removal of other similar materials while maintaining my usual, wholesome, family-friendly purchases.

(Please forgive my errors. Typing w/ left hand while nursing)

Peter P said...

I've been very intrigued by the outcry over this book.

Why did we not hear an outcry before over the other similar books they sell?

Why is there no outcry from the Christian community over the books they sell on how to worship satan and how to cast spells?

You are very right in that there is a difference between censorship and discernment, but the big problem is... who gets to do the discerning?

To me, the books teaching how to cast spells, how to worship satan etc etc are every bit as despicable as the book this post is about. If I were in charge of Amazon, there's no way I would ever sell anything like that.

To others, the Qu'ran is the most evil book ever written. To others, it's the bible.

Amazon have taken the view that, for the most part, they won't take sides, they will simply be a straight conduit for book sales and it's up to the people to discern whether or not to buy it.

In my opinion, the outcry should be more against the government that this book is legal to buy and sell than against Amazon that they are selling legal reading material.

If the book can be legally sold, then the discernment has already been done by the lawmakers and the voters who put them there that a book like this IS acceptable.

Is it Amazon's place to 'discern' for the people?

Is it any more Amazon's place to show discernment than it is the Government's?

To me this is a HUGE topic which penetrates to the very core of what makes America America.

♥ Kathy said...

I had NOT heard of this but I use Amazon all the time. I only specifically search for items though which is probably why I haven't heard of it. Like Sarah, I'm a Prime member and have gotten great deals and don't have to pay for shipping. I am very upset that there is even something like that available anywhere. It's a scary world without telling people how to make it scarier. I think you summed it up pretty well! said...

Excellent post. I like your reference to Amazon being a microphone to the author's voice. So true.

And like someone said above(Katdish, I think) we're suppose to be tolerant of EVERYBODY. If we're good little citizens, that is. I recently heard that the only sin left in America is the sin of intolerance. If so, then I'm probably guilty. Oops.