Featured is Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, which many have wanted to target with antitrust law. (Photo credit: ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Ryan Anderson didn’t even know his book had been pulled. There was no warning, no notification from Amazon that the title had been removed. A reader tipped him off when he tried to buy a copy and couldn’t. That’s strange, Ryan thought, logging on to Amazon to see for himself. Sure enough — his bright blue and pink book cover, “When Harry Became Sally,” had been replaced with a message: this is no longer a functioning page. Because at Amazon, free speech is no longer a functioning principle.
“I hope you’ve already bought your copy,” Ryan tweeted Sunday, breaking the news. “Given the aggressive push on trans policies coming from the Biden administration, now is a great time to read it…before you no longer can.” Conservatives, liberals, and even transgender activists were stunned at the latest cancel culture victim.
“Jeff Bezos will sell you Hitler’s autobiography, because he correctly trusts readers to understand that malignant book,” Rod Dreher shook his head. “But he will not sell you a book by the head of a major American think tank, making an argument critical of gender ideology, because…why?”
That’s a question that even the far-left can’t answer. Even people on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum couldn’t believe Amazon would stoop to viewpoint discrimination.
“As someone who disagrees with the conclusions of my fellow (but unrelated) Anderson, ‘When Harry Became Sally’ is a really stellar read,” Ross Anderson insisted, “particularly for those of us who do disagree with him! I highly recommend it and it’s mad that Amazon would remove it.”
Others, like Chad Greene — who identifies as a transgender — argued that “this book is enlightening, thoughtful, and well-researched. It provides necessary and important information on the science and the social impact of the gender identity movement.”
And it wasn’t as if the book was a flop — far from it, in fact. “When Harry Became Sally” was a best-seller for Amazon and cracked number three on the Washington Post’s paperback nonfiction list in 2019, a year after its release. But then, the corporate mob has never been motivated by money. They’re driven by one thing and one thing only — fear. Radicals like Bezos are terrified that people might be persuaded to think differently than them. So instead of exposing the world to other ideas, they try to make them inaccessible. They’ll say they’re trying to end hate or prejudice. But at the end of the day, it’s intellectual cowardice. The Left can’t win the debate, so they shut down the people with the science and moral truth that can.
“Biology isn’t bigotry,” Ryan explains in the book that Amazon didn’t bother to read. “We need to respect the dignity of people who identify as transgender,” he argues, but we also need “to help people think about these issues more carefully.”
Liberal extremists have every right to criticize our views, but — as Jonathan Zimmerman wrote when Abigail Shrier’s book on transgenderism was stripped from Target shelves — “they shouldn’t prevent others from obtaining it and from coming to their own conclusions about it. That’s the fear of the censor, in all times and places: that someone, somewhere will think the wrong thing….”
But eventually, he points out, their strategy will backfire. “It always does.”
Already, a coalition of U.S. publishers, retailers, and authors have been writing to Congress, demanding that leaders start an anti-trust fight to break up Bezos’s book cartel. In 2019, they pointed out, Amazon controlled 50 percent of all book distribution. Now, that number is as high as 70-80 percent. Not only does that squash competition, but it’s also — as this controversy proves — squashing viewpoints as well.
It’s time for Americans to push back. Anyone who’s watched the Left’s progression understands: the mob won’t stop with words on a page. The thoughts and beliefs of the heart are next. Unfortunately for them, Zimmerman points out, “Censoring people never persuades them. It might bring them to heel, but it won’t change their minds.” And minds are one thing the Left can’t cancel.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.
Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Family Research Council.