A group of Republican U.S. senators is asking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to explain the company’s removal of a popular conservative book on transgenderism and is warning him that it appears to be an “assault on free speech.”
The book, When Harry Became Sally by author Ryan T. Anderson, challenges the modern belief that men and women can be trapped in the wrong body. Amazon pulled it in February, although it is still available on the website of the publisher, Encounter Books, and on the sites of booksellers such as Barnes and Noble.
“Over the past 72 hours, Amazon has been unable to provide a sufficient explanation as to how Anderson’s book, which reached the top of two of Amazon's best-seller lists before it was even released in 2018, supposedly violated a vague, undefined ‘offensive content’ standard,” the letter says. “When Harry Became Sally prompted important discussions in the national media and among policymakers in 2018, and remains one of the most rigorously researched and compassionately argued books on this subject.
“By removing this book from its marketplaces and services, Amazon has unabashedly wielded its outsized market share to silence an important voice merely for the crime of violating woke groupthink,” the letter says.
It was signed by four GOP senators: Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Ind.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.). It asks Bezos to reply no later than March 9.
The letter poses multiple questions for Bezos, including:
- “What was the motivating factor behind Amazon’s decision to remove access to this book after hosting it for sale for over three years?”
- “Is this action part of a broader campaign against conservative material and voices on Amazon’s platforms?”
- “Amazon Web Services hosts countless websites related to religious, politically conservative, classically liberal, and other content that falls outside the realm of acceptable woke groupthink.
Are these sites at risk of being denied service by Amazon? How does the determination of which site to host compare to that of which books to remove from Amazon’s platforms?”
The Internet, the letter says, is “at its best when it is an open marketplace of ideas that brings people together to share, learn from one another, and engage in a range of commercial activities.”
“In its decision to remove Mr. Anderson’s book from its platforms, Amazon has openly signaled to conservative Americans that their views are not welcome on its platforms,” the letter says. “Amazon’s shortsighted censorship of this well-researched and thoughtful contribution to modern American discourse is not just a decision made in poor taste, but an assault on free speech that carries weighty implications for the future of open discourse in the digital age.”
The publisher’s website says the book draws on the “best insights from biology, psychology, and philosophy” and asserts that “the most beneficial therapies focus on helping people accept themselves and live in harmony with their bodies.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.