Censorship has gone electronic. Far gone are the days of bonfires burning banned books in the public eye. In fact, all sensory details of the historical tradition are gone as censorship moves online. Burning books is a thing of the past. Now you can just make them invisible.
In recent news, the online book, music, movie, etc. sellers extraordinaire Amazon.com has been involved in a scandal in which many of its gay/lesbian titles have been “de-ranked” or categorized as adult.
Now at first this doesn’t sound so bad. However, books on Amazon.com that are not ranked are significantly harder to find than those that are. Many un-ranked books do not even show up when you search their category, so, unless that searcher knows the exact title they want, they couldn’t find many specific books related to their search.
For instance, if someone were to type “homosexuality” into the search engine, what would result for the most part are history books, religious books, and books that bear titles such as “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality,” by Joseph Nicolosi and Linda Ames Nicolosi, that can be found on the first page of searches.
Also, some may agree that certain books that deal with sex and sexual topics either in the title or otherwise deserve to be in the adult section. And it almost makes sense, except for this lesser known fact: Amazon sells porn, and vibrators.
“Ellen Degeneres: A Biography,” and Anais Nin’s “Delta of Venus” do not belong in a category with “Fiesta Island Party Girls.”And nor do the children’s books, “Heather Has Two Mommies” and “Daddy’s Roommate.” These two books include positive portrayals of same sex parent families, and yes, perhaps the ratings suggest that the message is a little blatant, but regardless, they are written for children as young as five. There are no sex scenes or vulgar descriptions; they are just different kinds of bedtime stories.
Other books, such as “Full Frontal Feminism: A Women’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters,” by Jessica Valenti were confusing to readers as to why they were “banned.” The book, while it does boast a rather provocative title, deals with women’s topics, not sex. So apparently, it’s not only unacceptable to mention sex or homosexuality, but also to be a feminist.
Amazon chalks the incident up to a “glitch” in their marketing department that is in the process of being fixed. Although previously, when authors started to notice that their books no longer bore rankings, Amazon responded by saying that many books deemed to include “adult content” were being taken out of “some searches and bestsellers lists” as a consideration to their wide range of customers. However, when the bloggers, tweeters, and Facebookers alike began a fitting online protest to the online censorship that in the days of book burning would rival scary farmers with pitchforks, Amazon changed it’s plea to a “glitch.” What an interesting and very categorically specific glitch.