By Martin Geddes August 1, 2022 on Substack
Banning is too obvious — there are other ways to suppress free speech
A friend has informed me that her glowing review of my much-banned book was rejected by Amazon. This is a form of soft censorship: more like shadowbanning, and less like deplatforming. The goal is to get most of the outcome of hard censorship, but without the blowback. You suppress visibility and deny credibility, so that reach of the message is limited.
The above is undeniably censorship. There are other ways in which you can be impeded, but they cannot be absolutely proven. How fast is your title put on display? Where does it show in search listings? How quickly is it delivered? It is important not to libel and accuse enterprises of censoring when they do not. But how can we tell? For instance, my book with Amazon UK became briefly unorderable, and then went “out of stock” (it’s print on demand), before being relisted.
Was this the ordinary glitchy nature of systems integration between a wholesaler and retailer? I cannot know. Ingram Spark do warn that the title may be shown as available and then disappear again. What I find ironic is that in my telecoms world the “progressive” leftists I was surrounded by were fanatical about “net neutrality”, even though it could never be objectively defined, measured, or enforced. Yet they are totally indifferent to issue of discrimination elsewhere in the information delivery chain.
The main way out of this that I see is transparency. Laws and regulations merely encourage capture of these institutions and entrenchment of the incumbent with the least ethical lawyers. It is only by making the supply chain visible, and the decisions made open to examination and comparison, that we can know if equal and fair access is being given. That said, some very expensive lawsuits down the road may help to discourage tipping the field for or against some authors and content.
While I have your attention, the book is for sale in Europe via
- Adlibris — adlibris.com/ — Nordics
- Blackwells — blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/home — UK
- Book Depository — bookdepository.com/?a_aid=en — UK
In the USA you can order via Amazon.com. Sometimes you have to deal with the devil…
While I am in self-promotion mode, you may also want to get hold of my free “On Q” set of essays an onq.martingeddes.com.