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When freedom of speech doesn’t apply

I’ve been reading lots of complaints lately about Amazon changing their policy of ranking certain books within their searches and best seller lists.  Specifically, they have began excluding certain ‘adult’ material from appearing in their basic searches and recommendations.  The main objection, which I have some sympathy with, is they are  excluding gay and lesbian literature but including more mainstream heterosexual titles, making their policy inconsistent.

Freedom of speech issue?  In my opinion, no.  Amazon is a private company and so are perfectly entitled to list titles in any way they see fit.  They can discriminate against whoever they like if they want to.  In any case, they are still selling gay and lesbian literature and they’re certainly not the only online book retailer.  If you don’t like their listing policy, shop somewhere else.

If you want something to get upset about, get upset about internet censorship, over zealous government legislation of pornography or just about Jacqui Smith, but online, non-taxpayer funded organisations can do what they like.  If they lose custom, chances are they’ll change their policy back, but please, online petitions?

If you really want to tackle this issue, go watch This Film is Not Yet Rated and then go and complain to the MPAA about their policy of rating equivalent gay and lesbian sexual scenes more strictly than their heterosexual equivalents.  Unlike Amazon, they do impose an effective monopoly on movie screenings in the US and so are far more deserving of your condemnation.  That looks like censorship to me.  Not showing book selections to people who probably aren’t going to buy them anyway just isn’t.

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