Is the United States truly a free marketplace of ideas, or are we becoming a nation where dissent from popular opinion is suppressed and demonized—whether by the government or by politically powerful private enterprise? Amazon’s deplorable decision to ban books for people struggling with same-sex attraction tends to affirm the latter. I am sorry to say that we may indeed be well on our way to ideological serfdom.
In today’s hyper-digital age, mega-businesses like Google, Facebook, and Amazon can and do censor ideas and squelch free thought and expression in ways that are similarly effective as, and are comparable to, fascist government repressions of days past. George Orwell was quite right about our future, but the existential threat is not just big government, it’s also big corporations.
Amazon’s politically correct ban occurred as the result of a British LGBT activist complaining to the distribution giant about the works of the late Catholic clinical psychologist, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who died in 2017. Nicolosi, considered the father of reparative therapy and who had successfully counseled thousands of former homosexuals, was the author of “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality” and “Healing Homosexuality: Case Stories of Reparative Therapy.” Of the ban of his father’s work, Nicolosi’s son stated in a released statement, “Amazon’s book ban puts radical LGBTQ ideology ahead of established science about how people leave homosexuality. It is anti-choice, anti-science, and anti-American.” So much for the proverbial open marketplace of ideas. That’s so, “the day before yesterday.”
Radical personal autonomy, especially regarding sexual choices, would appear to be a fundamental lynchpin of today’s progressive ideology and propaganda. This is true, but only if one is making a sexual choice with which liberals happen to approve (i.e. blindly embracing and affirming LGBTQ ideology), not when one is making a choice with which they do not agree (i.e., learning how to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction). What uber-liberals actually believe, but rarely publicly admit, is that the free flow of ideas and personal autonomy must now be disciplined and subjugated to serve the greater good of a sexually liberated socialist utopia, free from those purported Judeo-Christian sexually repressive restraints. Unevolved pesky little things like Constitutions and First Amendments naturally get in their way. They have actually become quite preachy of late, ironically becoming the new cultural fundamentalists. They have become self-anointed sex gods. For them, it is a “sin” to disagree with their radical sexual worldview. Truth and morality are inverted as it has now become a “virtue” to silence any and all religiously informed views of human sexuality.
Not content with stopping at the works of Nicolosi, under pressure from the left, Amazon expanded its authoritarian commercial censorship to other books affirming that change is possible. Within a few weeks, the works of former homosexuals were also banned. Joe Dallas’ book Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity was removed from the platform. Also, my friend Anne Paulk’s book — Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction, was removed. Books by ex-gays Alan Medinger and Richard Cohen, whose stories I was honored to tell in amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme court in key marriage litigation cases, were also censored by Amazon. Interestingly, an otherwise bright attorney told me on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 that my (very real) clients didn’t actually exist. Now, Jeff Bezos’ mega corp. is erasing their powerful stories of authentic transformation from our public memory.
Although change allowing therapy has provided real help and hope to thousands of people struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, LGBT activists intentionally disparage all change allowing therapies with the negative moniker, “conversion therapy.” And, rather than engage in evidence-based conversations about the effectiveness of change allowing therapy, radical sexual liberty activists reactively disparage it as harmful and ineffective. Without any evidence, Christians and others have been blamed for fostering the high LGBT suicide rates. This despicable defamatory disparagement continues in spite of the fact that aversive therapeutic methods are not used and the fact that thousands struggling with their sexual identity have successfully left the gay lifestyle behind. Sexual activists hate the truth because the very presence of former LGBT’s exposes the propaganda of the “born gay” myth and the pernicious lie that change is not possible. That’s not hope—that is hopelessness and despair.
So, what about the viability of the Amazon ban itself? Certainly the First Amendment doesn’t directly apply here because it is a private company—although Amazon certainly has a monopoly. But is it the right thing for Amazon to do—to put its thumb on the scales of neutrality, deciding ideological winners and losers? I don’t think so. A misattributed Voltaire quote, famously employed by the ACLU and the free speech movement in the past is: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos seemed to be channeling Voltaire, when more than twenty years ago back in a 1998, he said, “We want to make every book available—the good, the bad and the ugly (emphasis added).” True to his word, Bezos’ otherwise uber-tolerant platform has marketed and sold a wide variety of distasteful books, including books on Satanism, suicide, and Hitler’s Mein Kampf. But that was then and this is now. Bezos spoke those reassuring words on the eve of the ascension of the radical sexual liberty movement—a movement with boastful totalitarian impulses to silence and obliterate all dissent—especially from those damn Christians. A possible takeaway from this entire situation is that, at least for committed radical leftists, change allowing therapy (a.k.a. the gospel of Jesus Christ) is worse than Hitler.
I warned about the growing intolerance of the radical sexual left more than 25 years ago in a speech that I wrote titled, “The Myth of Tolerance.” I wish I were wrong, but I predicted that those then clamoring for tolerance of their “alternative lifestyle” would wield their power quite intolerantly, once their initial cultural goals were achieved. I really wish that I had been wrong. Some are concerned that we may someday look back at this moment as a sort of historical reprisal of Kristallnacht, when the Nazi’s broke into places of worship and shops, burning disfavored literature in the streets.
As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion of NIFLA v. Becerra, “[T]he people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.” The people also lose when behemoth virtual corporate monopolies like Amazon decide which ideas should prevail. Corporate tyranny may prove to be just as detrimental to liberty as any government tyranny. We certainly don’t need business elites deciding what we can read, think, and say. And, in the glow of Amazon’s digital book burning, some are wondering what other Christian books are next, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity? The Bible? Where will this literal liberal lunacy stop, no one truly knows.
So much for diversity and inclusion! Oh well, along with tolerance, these liberal ideals were, in the end, just distracting excuses to overthrow the Judeo-Christian worldview and, with it, Western Civilization. Tolerance, diversity, and inclusion are dead—unless we push back.
If we are to remain a free people, should Amazon remain a neutral platform in the marketplace of ideas? Yes. Is Amazon, as a company, now playing the part of a commercial 600-pound gorilla, displaying rank elitist politically correct anti-religious bigotry? Yes. Should they knock it off? Absolutely. Memo to Jeff Bezos (and your rich friends at Facebook and Google): a little more faux Voltaire and a little less ThoughtPolice, please.
— by Dean R. Broyles, Esq.
Broyles is a constitutional attorney serving as the President of The National Center For Law & Policy (NCLP), an organization fighting to promote and defend religious freedom. Copyright© The National Center For Law & Policy. Reprinted with permission.