I got the following post to the comments of my post about Monster Hunter Nemesis being up for preorder on Amazon.
I learned that Amazon offers for sale videos, books, DVDs and other materials by one Anwar al Awlaki, a propagandist for Al Qaeda, who was taken out by by a U.S. drone missile some months ago.
I confirmed this with my own search!!
I was outraged that Amazon sells for the terrorist group that inflicted 9/11 on our country. I asked them quickly expunge every instance of this odious filth from their web site. Their response was to the effect that they would pass my email up the line. Well, al Awlaki is still for sale there. I swore to never again do business with Amazon, and to inform every person and group I know of their irresponsible money- grubbing.
Maybe Amazon will listen if you and other top authors threaten to pull their publications from their website. Thanks.
I started writing the following response, but it got kind of big, so I figured this deserved its own blog post.
Wow. Thanks for putting me in a really shitty position this morning, where I am absolutely powerless to do anything of meaning, but if I don’t then I must support terrorism. Or even better, I don’t support terrorism, but I’m only motivated by money, oh that filthy lucre! So if I don’t ruin my business agreements and violate my contractual obligations, even if I fundamentally disagree with your idea not just on 1st Amendment grounds but also practical ones, I too must be “money grubbing” and the terrorists win.
Here is why I will not be threatening anybody with boycotts for this topic or any other.
First, if I threatened to pull my stuff off of Amazon they would laugh at me.
Second, it is one of the biggest retailers of books on Earth, so they would laugh at me as I went bankrupt.
Third, I couldn’t legally pull my books off anyway because I’m under contract to a publishing house. I do not control my printing or distribution. Amazon has a relationship with Baen and Simon & Schuster, not with me.
Fourth, I’m not in the censorship business and I’m not the threat of boycott type. I hate that blackmail strong arm tactic. It never works. Even by you posting this it puts me in an awkward No-Win situation. So if I do something, I’m screwed, and if I do nothing, I must be pro Al Queda, and thus screwed. Hey, thanks.
You want to take up your problems with the retailer (it won’t work either) but leave authors out of it. All you’re doing is putting us in a bad spot. You’re probably going to get the same exact response from any other author you ask too (or at least any author who understands how business and contracts work). I can’t speak for them, but I’m guessing that my co-author Mike Kupari (who went to Afghanistan as an EOD guy and risked his life disarming Al Queda IEDs) will tell you the same thing. You could ask noted sci-fi author (Lt. Colonel) Tom Kratman to pull his books off of Amazon because it also sells books by a terrorist asshole and see what his response is too. I’m sure it would be hilarious.
A cursory search shows that Amazon also carries Mein Kampf, the Turner Diaries, and Rosie O’Donnel movies. Pick a hundred awful topics by a hundred awful people and there will probably be books on there worthy of your outrage. Amazon also has the Satanic Verses in stock, a book critical to Islam where the Iranian mullahs actually issued a death fatwah against the author, so I suppose if some prominent authors felt bad about the mullah’s hurt feelings they should contact Amazon and threaten to pull their books, right? There are books on there by Ted Nugent and Wayne LaPierre too, so after Sandy Hook maybe some super concerned anti-gun authors should have demanded that they were pulled, because of how insensitive it is to have books by those gun nuts.
My gosh, as I continue my search they’ve even got the Anarchist’s Cookbook! I haven’t read that for 25 years, and if I recall correctly there are a few nifty bomb recipes that worked great, and a few others where you’ll probably lose at least a hand.
But if your personal cut off is that we should only ban books by people who have motivated/enabled/caused the deaths of Americans, then hey, start with Margaret Sanger books. For sheer body count, Sanger’s accomplishments dwarf Al Queda… Only hers are all little tiny bodies, and that particular racist eugenicist is a liberal icon today. I just checked. Sanger books are on Amazon too. And on 1st Amendment grounds, I think that is great. Political speech should always be allowed, even when it is by complete scumbags with idiotic ideas. No matter how repulsive your political philosophy you have the right to share it.
This is America. You want to proclaim something, no matter how idiotic it is, you have that right. And the rest of us have the right to debate it, make fun of it, and pick it to pieces. No matter how vile or ignorant. Hey, look, Piers Morgan wrote a book. Good for him.
Hell, and I actually know people who have bought various Al Queda authored books from Amazon. Except they work in the American intelligence community, and it was so they could understand the people they were trying to find in order to kill them better.
You want to get people to read the hell out of a book? Get somebody somewhere to ban it. If only I could get a bunch of morons to burn a bunch of my books on a bonfire and get it on the news, that makes for great publicity. But you got me thinking, so I went and looked on the site itself. If you search his name, you come up with critiques and news articles about his crap way before you get to his crap. One of the books you’re pissed about is ranked 1,101,112, which means that it sells a copy once in a great while. Another one of his articles doesn’t actually sell enough copies to get a rating. Sure, you could let this asshole fade away into obscurity, but don’t worry. I’m sure if you organize a righteous internet campaign to ban it you can get this thing up to number 1, no problem.
So no, I will not be contacting Amazon about this, sorry. If that makes me a bad guy, so be it. I think Al Queda is evil and every time one of them gets blown to hell an angel gets its wings (or was that a Ranger gets his tab? Never could keep those straight). They are wretched scum, but the wonderful thing about this country is that we don’t hide wretched ideas. We confront them.
Because the fun never stops on the internet, I got a response:
Of course you’re in a shitty position. When faced with an ethical dilemma,anyone with a grain of decency finds themselves thus.
I’m unimpressed with your four reasons for not pursuing the issue. Each had to do with either the state of your pocketbook or your helplessness in the face of strong opposition. I would imagine that the executives at Krups and Thyssen used a similar rationale in the 1930′s and 1940′s.
Man, where did you learn your negotiating skills – using shovels on Holsteins? I wasn’t asking you to fall on your sword. Rather, it occurred to me that if you and some other primo Baen authors suggested to your publisher that he, too, faces the same ethical dilemma, he might give it some thought, and perhaps pass on his concerns to Amazon.
Given your off-the-edge rant that lumped a real mass murderer with a fictional white supremicist apocalypse, and a true woman’s rights advocate (Is that truly the LDS position on abortion?), it looks like I pushed the wrong (right?) buttons.
In case you’re wondering, I do have a dog in this hunt. My son had clients at the World Trade Center. If he had been there that morning, he likely would have died in that massacre.
Well, that’s a shocker. And here is what I posted in response:
Yep. Just like I predicted. Because I disagree with you, I am money grubbing, morally bankrupt, and support terrorism. Sure. Because it is either that or your idea is just stupid.
If you consider that rather polite and detailed response as to why what you are asking me is an “off-the-edge rant” then you have lived a sheltered life.
You missed the big reason, even though I didn’t put a #5 by it. Hint, it is all the stuff in the second half about how I believe in Freedom of Speech, and will not ever pressure any vendor of books not to carry a book of political thought I disagree with. Ever.
Apparenly you were too dense to get that the examples I provided were of various works who would be hated and despised by some group, and by your criteria, they should be banned. You bring my religion into it, well how about this? It is my personal religious conviction that the founding fathers were inspired by God when they wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the first right on there is the right to freely share political thought. It is a fundamental guiding principle of America that all idea, no matter how vile, are open for discussion, and squashing political discourse is the desire of statists and tyrants.
You pushed the wrong (right) button? Yes. I hate censorship. I hate statism. I hate anyone who would infringe upon the basic fundamental principles of American governance based upon their feelings or their personal concerns. And above all, I hate bullies.
So instead of trying to coerce me into doing something I disagree with how about you go talk to those other primo authors yourself? Go talk to my publisher. See what their response is. I provided a couple of names above who also have “a dog in this hunt”, so go for it.