Thursday, November 11, 2010

Willfully using the wrong word

I haven't spent much time cruising around the blogosphere the last couple of weeks but I am not so far out of it that I haven't read about calls to boycott Amazon for selling some objectionable material.  I find it disappointing, though not surprising, that Amazon would choose to carry a book advocating for deviant and illegal behavior.

But I'm really annoyed that they are hiding behind First Amendment rights and censorship to defend their selling of the book.  I've seen some of the correspondence between Amazon and complaining customers wherein Amazon says that it would be censorship if they refused to carry the book. 

People get this wrong all the time, but Amazon  knows better.  It would not be censorship if they declined to carry a particular book.  It would be a business decision.

If Amazon chose not to carry the book - and surely there are many, many books they decline to stock - they would not be preventing the author from selling the book elsewhere.   The author could peddle the book to any number of other outlets, set up a website to sell it directly, or sell it on street corners.

But Amazon is choosing to call it censorship because our reflex response is "Oh, yeah, censorship is bad!  Of course Amazon can't censor the book."  

If the government banned the publication and sale of the book, that would be censorship.  If the bookseller declines to sell the book, it's a business decision. Sorry for being repetitive but people just don't seem to get this.

I bet if I self-published my NaNoWriMo novel and submitted it to Amazon, they would decline to sell it.  It would probably be the right business decision for them.  It wouldn't be censorship.

So can we stop crying censorship all the time?  Please?


Kerri said...

I know, I know. Argh. Duh. *Head desk thump*.

Cheryl said...

Amen! How do more people not see and understand the distortion?