Book Banning, Amazon and Dangerous Ideas

Sometimes reality is so ludicicrous that all I can do is laugh like a crazy person. We are all jumping off the cliff of reality into the chaos of madness.

This week, under pressure from the LGBTQ community, Amazon has removed the books of the late Dr. Jospeh Nicolosi. Nicolosi is the person who created and implemented the therapeutic model known as, “conversion therapy.” At the heart of conversion therapy is the belief that many expressions of homosexuality are rooted in neglect, abuse or addiction. This belief, based upon Nicolosi’s (and others) research, caused Nicolosi to create therapeutic interventions that help clients with unwanted same-sex attraction. This happens when the client processes past events and supposed underlying causes. When done, according to Nicolosi, healthy heterosexual desire emerges.

Whatever one thinks of Nicolosi’s science and therapeutic model, this post is not about his work per se. This post is about the reality that a political group can pressure the largest commercial, book reseller in the world to remove books because they are “too dangerous” for the public.

With that in mind, here are a few, sometimes sarcastic, thoughts.

First, you can buy some dangerous stuff on Amazon. It’s hard to understand how Nicolosi’s books could be more dangerous than these. Here is a sampling:

  1. Milo Yiannopoulos’ books can be bought on Amazon. On Bill Maher he spoke humorously and nefariously about sexual abuse.
  2. U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook also available on Amazon. This is a helpful book on how to make explosives.
  3. If you need bomb building supplies after reading the book above, you can get that too. Make sure to scroll down to Customers also Shopped For to get everything you need after you get that fuse.
  4. Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is available. A book that is the intellectual framework for the genocide of millions of people is readily available for anyone to buy. In fact, you can get it for free on kindle. Now that is customer service.

Secondly, Amazon has billed itself as the “biggest bookstore in the world”. It would seem that if you are the largest bookstore, you would have the most diverse inventory of books. Well, Amazon sells almost every book except the ones they disagree with or that will make them look bad to certain interest groups (they of course want to keep the Nazis and bomb enthusiasts happy). What this means is that Amazon is selectively censoring books for no apparent reason other than to score some social-coolness points. While private companies can sell what they want (unless your a conservative wedding cake baker), at least have the integrity to have public standards that actually makes sense and are known.

Third, we are moving into a cultural moment where ideas can cause harm. Consequently, we must protect people from ideas they find upsetting or might harm them in some mental way. Thank God Amazon is a safe space! Ideas are not dangerous though hiding from them certainly might be. It is what happens with the ideas that decide whether they are good or bad. More importantly, the only way to find the truth is to engage ideas, even unpleasant ones. It is in the rigorous conflict of ideas among people of good will that results in truth. Amazon is reflecting a cultural trend both in universities and business–we must protect people against scary ideas that might upset them. The solution is to fill the world with only ideas that make you smile and feel warm inside. I for one, do not want Amazon or any entity to tell me which are the good ideas and which are the bad ones. This is the work of the individual. If I wanted to be intellectually controlled, I would move to China; they are really good at it.

Fourth, the fundamental danger to American rights is probably not government intervention but large corporations that have the power of access over large areas of public life. Amazon is removing books because of some people’s ideas; Facebook removes some people because of their ideas; Twitter removes some people because of their ideas; YouTube removes some people or defunds their content because of their ideas; major credit cards will not process payments to certain people because of their ideas. If you are removed from these platforms, you are removed from the public square. Not only that but the mob culture of social media can easily destroy a person’s life for having the ‘wrong’ ideas. All of this is happening not because of real harm but because of perceived harm. And I can promise you who the mob is coming after: orthodox, conservative Christians. And if the danger of ideas is the measure of whether someone should be censored, Christians ought to be first in line.

We follow a man whose ideas have upended civilizations and governments; his followers live for a world they cannot see sometimes at the cost of this one; his followers routinely lose their lives because of what he proclaimed. He is a man who says some are right and others are wrong; he is a man that spoke about heaven and hell; he is a man who claimed he alone holds the keys to ultimate truth and reality; he is a man who demands utter allegiance even if that means forsaking your nation or family. Jesus and his ideas are the most dangerous ideas ever to confront the world.

A culture doesn’t lose its freedoms when they take our guns as all my gun-owner friends like to say. Instead, it is when entities—government, schools or businesses—controls access to ideas that freedom is really in danger. If we do nothing, it will only be a matter of time when some of the ideas you hold dear are deemed dangerous.

The clock is ticking.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

4 thoughts on “Book Banning, Amazon and Dangerous Ideas”

  1. Good reflection Ron! The issue you discuss here reflects the double standards of American culture. Although the conversion therapy might be problematic in many respects, this kind of censorship is dangerous.

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