Most Americans know that there are two sexes, male and female, and that sex is rooted in science. Most Americans also know that we ought to treat all people—including those who feel conflicted about their gender—with respect and dignity, without sacrificing the truth in the process.
These beliefs though are now under attack from some of the most powerful corporations in the history of the world. Just a few weeks ago, while House Democrats were passing their far-left Equality Act and the left-wing media was busy cancelling Dr. Seuss, Amazon quietly erased a book from its online store, without notice, without warning, without explanation. That book is When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment by Ryan Anderson.
Amazon claims it banned this book for violating its brand-new policy against “hate speech.” Of course, that excuse is arbitrary and patently false. You can go to Amazon right now—right now— you can go to Amazon on your phone or on your computer and buy copies of actually hateful books. You can get Hitler’s Mein Kampf shipped to your door with free Amazon Prime delivery! You can get the Unabomber Manifesto, written by a serial killer who murdered three people and maimed 23 others. You can even get How to Blow Up a Pipeline—I assume the title speaks for itself. All those books are available for purchase on Amazon right now, one click away. But Amazon wants you to believe a conservative book is somehow beyond the pale, unacceptably hateful—literally, worse than Hitler, as they like to say.
My office asked Amazon to send us the exact passages from When Harry Became Sally that it deemed so hateful that it couldn’t even sell the book on its website. Shocking surprise, I know, they never got back to us.
That’s because the book doesn’t say anything hateful. To the contrary, the book makes very clear that we must treat people who feel conflicted about their gender with the same respect and compassion that are due to all people. To quote the author, “we should have abundant compassion and charity and patience with people who feel this form of alienation. But we also need to insist on telling the truth.”
That’s not hate. Far from it. The author’s real offense—his only offense—was telling the truth. He said, calmly and compassionately, that boys are boys and girls are girls. And the richest man in the world banned this book from his company’s platform.
But of course, you don’t have to agree with the common-sense, historic understanding of gender in order to acknowledge how dangerous it is for one of the biggest corporations in the history of the world to start banning books. Because while Amazon’s censorship may start with conservative views, it could easily mutate to censor other views that offend Jeff Bezos and his bottom line. Perhaps Amazon will come after union organizers next since they’re trying to bust up a union election in Alabama. Or maybe environmental activists. Or maybe trust busters, since so many people are talking about potential anti-trust violations in the world of big tech.
And even if Amazon goes only this far and no farther, the damage to free speech has already been done. Books like When Harry Became Sally won’t get published anymore. Writers who hold unfashionable opinions—that just a few days ago were considered basic, mainstream views of a large majority of Americans—may decide to self-censor, stay silent. The virtual book burning may spread to other companies. Maybe Amazon will put a book burning app on its Kindle so readers can drag books from its catalogue into the virtual bonfire.
Political correctness will only grow more oppressive if its enforcers, like Amazon, don’t face some consequences for their actions.
Amazon for instance makes billions of dollars a year—each year—hosting websites and storing data for the government. Almost all of Amazon’s profit is made in these enterprise services, not in its consumer-facing retail business. And those are our tax dollars, flowing to a company that uses its power to censor the beliefs of a large majority of Americans. Perhaps it’s time for lawmakers to reconsider whether these contracts are in the best interests of our country.
I’ll also note that Amazon is the country’s largest book seller, selling three out of every four eBooks in America. It may be time for lawmakers to evaluate whether Amazon’s practices are consistent with our antitrust laws. Or whether our antitrust laws need to be updated to address this type of behavior from a monopolistic firm. We better hurry, though, because maybe they will ban all books on antitrust and monopoly behavior before we have a chance to study the question.
I’ll close by quoting from the book that Amazon banned, which predicted the very events we’re witnessing here today:
“If trans activists succeed in their political agenda, our nation’s children will be indoctrinated in a harmful ideology, and some will live by its own lies about their own bodies, at great harm to themselves physically, psychologically, and socially. Lives will be ruined, but pointing out the damage will be forbidden. Dissent from the transgender worldview will be punished in schools, workplaces, and medical clinics. Trying to live in accordance with the truth will be made harder.”
This isn’t a fight over hate or bigotry, respect or compassion. It’s a battle over truth itself—the truth of who we are as human beings and the fundamental freedom to speak that truth—or any other truth—without fear.
Throughout our history, Americans have never surrendered to an oppressive tyranny of opinion, whether a majority, or, in this case, a small but highly influential minority. And we won’t be cowed into silence today. We will fight for what’s true; we will fight for the freedom to say it. And no matter what the cultural forces arrayed against us do, we will never back down.