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Book Censorship: Why it Matters

Imagine there was one organization that controlled three-fourths of the coffee shops in the world. Imagine that organization decided frappuccinos were no longer coffee. Imagine that they struck fraps from menus on a whim. Sad, right? Next time you want a frap, you would have to pay exorbitant prices for it or not find any at all.

This is an analogy of the book censorship that Amazon and eBay are engaging in. Amazon controls 83 percent of the book market; when Amazon decides that a book will not be sold, it completely cripples that book’s sales and disconnects readers from ideas. If you are unaware, let me fill you in. 

Recently, sites like Amazon and eBay have begun to ban books from their platform: Amazon banned a book on transgenderism, When Harry Became Sally, and after Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to stop publishing six Dr. Seuss books, eBay restricted those books from being sold second hand.

I don’t want to get in a fight on transgender issues or whether or not Dr. Seuss is racist; I want to talk about book censorship without equal application of the standards. If Amazon or eBay were broadly applying their new content standards, it would be a slightly different story. 

Did you know that Hitler’s book, Mien Kampf, is still available for purchase on Amazon and eBay? You know, the guy who was directly responsible for murdering millions of Jews? If Amazon or eBay bans a scientific inquiry for “hate speech,” or beloved children’s books for “racism,” shouldn’t Hilter’s autobiography, a literal handbook of hate speech and bigotry, also be banned from their sites?

Mien Kampf still available for purchase on eBay and Amazon is proof of unfair and obviously biased censorship standards—it isn’t really hate speech that they are after; it is control of the market and ideas. 

Now that a few children’s books are gone, this is over, right? Wrong. If banning children’s books isn’t a problem, how long till scientific journals go unpublished because they question a belief system? Once you poke a hole in the dam, the water inevitably comes out. Publishers will not publish books they think might get stripped from Amazon, causing them to lose profits—who can blame them? That’s just good business. It would be hyperbolic to say the Bible could be banned next, but one has to wonder. Many mainstream ideologies go against scripture, so how long until it is also considered hate speech?

In the past, book burning took the form of big bonfires filled with books stolen from people’s homes. Today, book burning will be books quietly disappearing from sites and ebooks erased from libraries. 

We’re hardly at the point to call this book burning, but without bi-partisan outcry, in a decade, we will find ourselves in a much less friendly and much less free world. Maybe consider buying a physical copy of that book you’re looking at now before it is too late.

*article that I got statistic from