Amazon Under Fire For Blocking Anti-Transgender Book, Canceling Clarence Thomas
We often discuss the deafening silence of professors and writers in the face of campaigns to cancel or censor conservative writers. Indeed, many have supported blacklisting and censorship.
That disturbing silence is evident this week after Amazon appeared to deplatform Ryan Anderson and his best-selling book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement.”
Now various conservative sites are objecting that a documentary on conservative Justice Clarence Thomas has been reportedly removed from Amazon’s streaming service — a glaring omission during Black History Month.
Amazon has not responded to inquiries as to why the Thomas documentary is no longer available, so it is not clear if this was an intentional or negligent act.
Given the controversy over the Anderson book, the sudden unavailability has triggered objections.
A search this morning still found no availability of the book. I have not read the book and I am unfamiliar with Anderson’s arguments. However, my concern is not with the merits of its arguments but the effort to prevent others from reading such arguments.
The intentional removal of the book would be another raw example of private censorship. This is the very danger that I discussed in my recent testimony before the House on efforts to use private companies to implement a system of viewpoint controls. There is a great divide on the issue of how to define gender and how legally to address different genders. This book is part of that national dialogue. However, instead of responding to such book with counterarguments, many want to silence the author to prevent others from reading or hearing his views.
A similar controversy arose last year when Target pulled the book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” after a single Twitter follower objected. Target later yielded after a national backlash and allowed people to buy the book.
The Thomas controversy is still unfolding but again there is a concern about Amazon’s manipulation of access to opposing views. It appears that you can find a DVD version if you put in the term “DVD” but critics have noted that it is difficult to find as opposed to documentaries on justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A search say that the video is unavailable for streaming. It is hard to judge the controversy at this early date. However, Thomas has been repeatedly snubbed by the Black History Museum and other groups due to his conservative ideology. He should be celebrated during Black History month. I strongly disagree with some of Thomas’ views but his life is a remarkable story of achievement.
Clarence Thomas was born on the Georgia coast in Pin Point, Georgia, on June 23, 1948. He grew up speaking Gullah, the creole dialect. His home was a one-room shack with dirt floors and no plumbing. He grew up without a Dad, who left him at two. As a result, at the age of seven he and his younger brother were sent to live with their grandfather, Myers Anderson, and his wife in Savannah, Georgia. He used his Catholic education to overcome segregation and prejudice to eventually go to Holy Cross and gained admission to Yale, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania law schools. After a series of legal positions, he became the chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1982 and later became just the second African American to join the Court.
That would seem an incredible life to highlight during Black History month.
What concerns me most is that members are sending letters demanding to know why cable companies are still allowing people to watch Fox News while they say nothing about removing books like Anderson’s. Indeed, as previously discussed, members in the recent House hearing repeatedly stated that they support free speech but not a single Democrat expressly opposed calls for Fox News to be taken off the air.
Yet, when it comes to censorship, members are neither silent nor subtle. When Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey came before the Senate to apologize for blocking the Hunter Biden story before the election as a mistake, senators pressed him and other Big Tech executive for more censorship. Rather than addressing the dangers of such censoring of news accounts, Senator Chris Coons pressed Dorsey to expand the categories of censored material to prevent people from sharing any views that he considers “climate denialism.” Likewise, Senator Richard Blumenthal seemed to take the opposite meaning from Twitter, admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said that he was “concerned that both of your companies are, in fact, backsliding or retrenching, that you are failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.” Accordingly, he demanded an answer to this question:
“Will you commit to the same kind of robust content modification playbook in this coming election, including fact checking, labeling, reducing the spread of misinformation, and other steps, even for politicians in the runoff elections ahead?”
“Robust content modification” has a certain appeal, like a type of software upgrade. It is not content modification. It is censorship. If our representatives are going to crackdown on free speech, they should admit to being advocates for censorship. Indeed, leading academics had the integrity recently to declare that they believe that “China is right” about censorship.
It now appears that Amazon “robustly” removed a best-selling book on gender because it objects to the conclusions reached by the author. The response from Blumenthal and other members? Crickets.