Amazon Vice President for Public Policy Brian Huseman sent a letter March 11 to GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (Florida), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Indiana) and Josh Hawley (Missouri) in response to their questions about why the 2018 book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment,” was removed from the platform.
“We have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Huseman wrote.
But Ryan Anderson, author of the book and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., argues that his book “does no such thing.”
“Nowhere have I ever said or framed LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Anderson told The Daily Signal.
“The phrase ‘mental illness’ does occur in the book twice—but not in my own voice: once quoting a ‘transwoman’ writing in The New York Times, and once quoting the current University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins,” he explained.
“The book also discusses the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of gender dysphoria in the most recent edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” Anderson added. “Amazon, curiously, still sells that. Gender dysphoria is listed in the most widely respected and consulted book on psychiatric disorders because it is a serious condition that causes great suffering.”
Huseman claimed that Amazon offers its customers “access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some … may find objectionable.” Yet Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, pointed out that Amazon’s lack of viewpoint tolerance is what led to the uproar.
“This isn’t just about censorship,” he said. “It’s about cruelly depriving people of the truth they desperately need.”
Michael Brown, host of the syndicated “Line of Fire” radio program and president of the FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, went further: “This is nothing less than a war on free speech,” he said, “a war on science-based, differing viewpoints, a war on truth.”
Many have found it suspicious that Anderson’s book was removed from the online retailer’s site the weekend before the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the deceptively named Equality Act.
“I am one of the most outspoken critics [of the Equality Act],” said Anderson. “It seems that Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers.”
Encounter Books, the publisher of “When Harry Became Sally,” warned that Amazon’s decision will have a major impact on the marketplace.
“If Amazon, which controls most of the book sales in America, has decided to delist a book with which some of its functionaries disagree, that is an unconscionable assault on free speech,” the publisher said in a statement. “It will have a chilling effect on the publishing industry and the free circulation of ideas. It must not be left to stand unchallenged.”
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