Amazon.com and lgbt — truths

I have gotten a lot of personal and professional questions about the recent issues concerning Amazon.com and lgbt literature. My basic understanding after having read numerous articles from friends, bloggers, and journalists from all sides of the controversy is that …

Well the facts are that amazon has some sort of system for filing lgbt and other (swing/poly etc) works under a system of “adult content.” They claim to do this because they reach a large audience. Okay, from a purely marketing standpoint I can understand it. You are running a business that caters to a ton of people and you want to be as boring as possible as not to freak any potential customers out. I’m with you on that one for a business profit ideal.

However, if you are going to do this to “protect children” for instance then 1) Perhaps you should screen the whole internet 2) take away the responsibility of parents to be responsible 3) allow for each family/person to make their own choice if they want this information censored.

I realize that I am an intense person who dramatically supports individual rights and those of sexuality.  I am also a marketing minded person who understand the necessity of certain choices for business-sake. Still, I think that censoring for everyone on the basis of “adult content” doesn’t make much sense.  We are not even talking about artistic nudes here. We are talking about non-fictional works (as well as fictional) about ideas surrounding gender and sexuality. How are these not educational?  Aren’t we past the whole burning book phases in our American society? Perhaps … we are not and it is just the circles I run in.

However, I do understand catering to the larger audience. So allowing you an individual or family to “opt out” of any content makes sense. For instance, I would opt out for books being shown books about poppy seeds. I’m allergic to them and pretty much hold no interest at all for me.  However, if for some reason I did want to search them I want the ability to opt back in for those results to come up in my searches and rankings.

Treating us like adults or adults of young children goes a long way. It allows you as a company to be respectful of the fact that not everyone wants to view (or have their children view) material they dislike or find offense. Also it allows the company to not think we are a bunch of idiots that can’t take care of ourselves.

Will there always be children and adults using the internet for unhealthy or inappropriate means? The answer of course is yes. However, we are not in the need of a large company dictating to us what literature (or anything else for that matter) we should or not be viewing. Let us make our own choices for ourselves and our family.

Now to directly address the questions I have been asked.  I do not actively think that amazon.com hates lgbt literature. I do not think they are directly trying to keep information away from people. I do think that either they were/are misguided in “adult content” choices as a rather big-brother business move OR that it was truly a glitch that happens a while ago and was not dealt with properly OR others took advantage of the system with ranking and other attributes as a means for dealing with their own personal agenda OR it is something else entirely that we are unaware of.

It doesn’t make sense for a company as large as amazon.com to damage their reputation with the lgbt community. I don’t think it is some hugely sinister plot as others may state. I think it is a poor choice in coding, some of the employees not handling the situation correctly, some mix up, some others exploting the system, or some combination there of.

I think the matter should be dealt with and corrected. I do think people (those authors specifically) should be upset by this and some actions be taken (what those actions are exactly I’m not sure).  I do think that amazon.com has hurt their reputation for a good while and will suffer some for it. However, I do not think they hate the lgbt community. Companies mess up, they make poor choices, and the market lets them know it… just like they have in this case.

I applaud the lgbt community for standing up and being heard… but I don’t think the heads of amazon.com should be put on sticks and marched around the town square. Just like I don’t think amazon.com is out to be evil. There is a gray area and we all live within it. Let’s try to remember that while the demonizing from all sides continues.  It takes all of us to make the truth.

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