Amazon has been under fire for pulling a conservative book from its online store. Its new policy is banning books that promote “hate speech.” What is Amazon doing? But where do hate speech rules come from?
The company’s content guidelines previously contained no mention of hate speech but now that it does there is an apparent contradiction. Amazon’s “Seller Central” page on “offensive and controversial materials” currently exempts books from bans on other products that “promote hatred.” Hmmm… Something is funky here, right?
Amazon sells between 50% and 80% of all physical books in the United States.
Amazon removed Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment sometime before Monday, Feb. 22. Other booksellers on the platform may not sell the book either.
Amazon says it moderates book content using “a combination of machine learning, automation, and dedicated teams of human reviewers. We’ll remove content that does not adhere to these guidelines and promptly investigate any book when notified of potential noncompliance. If we remove a title, we let the author, publisher, or selling partner know and they can appeal our decision.”
Anderson, the author of When Harry became Sally…” said, he repeatedly defends the human dignity of people who think they are transgender. He does so in the book and points to passages such as:
“First and foremost, as we advocate for the truth, we must be careful not to stigmatize those who are suffering.”
Both the author and the publisher, Encounter Books, claim Amazon has not made contact with them and multiple requests for an explanation have gone without response. They only found out about the book’s removal when a prospective buyer sent him an alert.
Sen. Marco Rubio says the ban constitutes “digital book burning.”
He says Amazon has also not responded to a request for more information from his office. Reached for comment by the Washington Free Beacon, Amazon gave direction to the new book policy.
Adolf Hitler’s tract Mein Kampf can currently be ordered on Prime for one-day shipping. But claiming a change in policy really does not answer the question of what is hate speech.
What is hate speech? It is anything that offends. But offends who?