Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Teeny Tiny Bit of a Rant

There was a big Hullabaloo on Twitter yesterday regarding a very bad book and a large Internet retailer that was carrying it.  All kinds of people were Up.In.Arms that the large retailer would dare to carry such a horrid book.

And make no mistake, I think it is a horrid book.   HORRID.  The fact that someone would write something like that offends me right to the core of my being.

But I think the very large retailer is fully within it's right to carry that book.

Freedom of speech does not just apply when we agree with a person.  It also applies when we think the person is a big fat wacko.

And quite honestly all the sensation yesterday was SCADS of free publicity for the very large retailer and for the awful book.

And while the very large retailer bowed to public pressure and removed the book, I wonder at what cost.  I think these things because I am part of a "religion" that says things that offends people.   Not everyone is offended, but some of my beliefs collide sharply with those around me.

I am SO lucky to live  where I am allowed to express thoughts and beliefs that are different from others and maybe even different from the mainstream without fear of recrimination.  So I get very nervous when those rights are restricted.

To me, a better way to deal with the very bad book is to ignore it.


Let's face it.  98% of society is NOT going to buy that book.  They are going to be offended.  They are maybe even going to choose another retailer, one that does not sell that book.

No matter who carries it, the book will not sell well.  If we ignore it, the author will get no free publicity or even much public acknowledgement and the whole thing will fade away.

And that would be the ultimate in justice.


Elouise82 said...

THANK YOU. I stopped checking Twitter after a little while yesterday, because I was so sick of seeing things about This Book. Like you, all I could think was that this was just free publicity. How many people do you think would have clicked on the link to look at the book under normal circumstances? And how many clicked it just to fuel their outrage? A WHOLE LOT MORE.

Do I think the retailer made an unethical choice to sell that book? Yes. Do I think that they probably make hundreds of unethical choices every day in their business practices, just ones that aren't as public or disgusting? Absolutely. Am I going to continue shopping with them? Well, let's face it, businesses all over have unethical practices, and hey, I like cheap books.

Am I going to stop asking rhetorical questions now? Yes.

The Mad Penguin said...

I first read it from a tweet by Anderson Cooper and I immediately felt like throwing up.

I thought it was strange and out of the norm for the retailer. Such impaired judgment. Not all publicity is good publicity... a good reputation that has been carved by careful attention can easily be marred by this single action. I hope they fire whoever made that stupid decision to make it available for sale.

Or it may be that this is a highly elaborate plan to actually catch those sick people. Maybe the book comes with GPS to locate them. But we all know it's unlikely!

Alright. I'll shut up now.

Knittinchick said...

Very offensive book... horrific-ly so!

I am sure that it was people of religion or faith that made the biggest uproar.

As a person of faith, I sometimes wish that we made just as big a deal about doing the right thing vs. standing against that which we view as wrong. I believe that making a difference in community and doing the right thing so that less wrong things exist in my community and world.

Sometimes I feel weary that people have LOTS of energy to make a stink about things that are wrong ... but don't have the time or energy to do proactive things that will make a long-term difference.

Thanks for your rant... you gave me a space to rant a little too!

Lady Why said...

I agree they have a right to carry the book. I don't think that freedom should be restricted. And, I agree people can choose not to buy the book and tell the big retailer they are not going to shop with them if they carry such vile material. The retailer can choose to listen or not listen. If it affects their bottom line, they usually listen. That's the free market at work.

And, I also agree it best to ignore said trash because publicity is always good for the thing publicized even if the publicity is bad. I mean, really... would any of us even know who Lindsay Lohan is were it not for her bad publicity? :-)

a Tonggu Momma said...

Amen. Just don't buy the book, y'all.

Nan | WrathOfMom said...

I know that I'm late to comment about this matter, but humour me.

What annoyed me most about the situation was the expectation that the retailer should PULL the book immediately! Right now! Because TWITTER says so!

It's so naive to think that the people manning the phones & the email server had any kind of power or influence to pull that book. A huge organization has channels & a hierarchy and if everyone on Twitter had just breathed & waited until the higher ups were informed, things would've been a lot less reactionary. But, no Twitter is about instantaneous communication and community building and mass hysteria.

Plus there was no leeway granted for the fact that the retailer is a good corporate citizen who has in the past made decisions to not sell material of this nature. Nor was there any consideration for the fact that ebooks are not vetted by humans before being added to the site, but a computer application. Which the author must have known because his description of the book contained keywords and phrases that seemed innocuous if looked at out of context.

Okay. Thanks for letting me get that out. ;)

Kimberly said...

Meh. I dunno. People getting up in arms over a private company selling something is just fine, in my book.

Censorship is only when the government tells people that they cannot sell/buy/read something.

Whether the "boycott" was a SMART idea is something else. Clearly the "boycott" had an effect since the company took the book down. Perhaps the book became more widely known than it otherwise would have, perhaps not.

And perhaps the "power of Twitter" could have been used for something else, but it didn't really bother me. This is what we, as Americans, do. Because we can. And THAT, I appreciate.