It’s with a mix of frustration and mild amusement that one sees repeated examples of shallow thinking among collectivist authoritarians. The fundamental immorality of collectivist philosophy – from the promotion of tax theft, to controls and “regulations” and threats made against property owners -- always is manifest, but the manner in which many authoritarians abbreviate their thinking so that they don’t see how their coercive proposals also could hoist them by the same petard, well, that’s the strange, repeated, almost-amusing part.
Hence we see the darkly comic call by USA Today’s Jessica Guynn to see Amazon censor even more than it already has.
For context, let’s lay on the proverbial “table” the fact that Amazon already has pulled numerous releases, such as Shelby Steele’s documentary film, “What Killed Michael Brown,” conservative writer Andrew Meyer’s book, “Don’t Tase me, Bro!” and a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as banning Parler from its hosting service.
But that’s not nearly enough for Ms. Guynn.
Because, you see, Amazon still carries things she doesn’t like, and – GAHHHDS! – they have an algorithm that SUGGESTS similar books and films in which customers have shown interest!
And, to make it even more entertaining, not only does she not see her own hypocrisy, she cites the leftist, UN-tied, Institute for Strategic Dialogue as a source of support and info:
Amazon’s book recommendation algorithms that help customers discover new titles may have a dark side.
A new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue says these algorithms steer people to books about conspiracy theories and extremism, sometimes introducing them to the work of conspiracy theorists who’ve been banned by other online platforms.
And what a horrible thing that is!
People browsing a book about one conspiracy on Amazon are likely to get suggestions for more books on that topic as well as books about other conspiracy theories…
Imagine looking up a book and finding other material that might offer other authors’ research and perspectives, that might offer references and information, even… SOURCE DOCUMENTS!
Why, it’s almost as bad as a USA today writer including hyperlinks in her piece that might refer people to otherpublications or sites! It’s just a whole world of rabbit holes that need plugging so all those ignorant, dumb other people don’t see things we don’t want them to see!
Astoundingly, Ms. Guynn cannot see her elitist double-standard for what it is, the classic “rules for thee and not for me” modus operandi. Like so many other collectivist authoritarians, she blithely calls for censorship of what she depicts as unsavory content that, somehow, can force people to buy it and then hypnotize those sponge-minded unwashed masses out there in the hinterlands, never noting that the principle of free speech not only has to be universal, but that, as John Stuart Mill said in the 1800s, the study of dissenting views helps each of us hone our arguments and test our knowledge.
What she really is doing is continuing the troubling practice of leftist media elites and politically-tied ideologues to silence dissent by claiming that, somehow, said dissenting speech (whatever they target this week) is “radicalizing” people – as if publications contain some kind of spell that makes people act, rather than containing what they do in reality: opinions, information, and theories people can read, accept, or discard based on their own free will.
Guynn’s is a familiar tactic: the use of buzz-terms like “conspiracy theory,” “radicalize,” and “extremism,” coupled with reference to “worries from” the typical leftist-journo’s “beard”: a mega-connected “non-governmental organization” like the Institute for Strategic Dialogue that appears to have been created to provide the wholesale “alarm bells” to which the retail journalists can refer.
Did it ever cross her mind that her own work could be seen as doing the same thing as Amazon’s algorithms? Even worse than the algorithms – which utilize the activity of millions to produce their suggestions – Ms. Guynn is simply one person, offering her hyperlinks on her own, without checking with millions of people to see if it’s okay. Heck, she even might not have vetted her links with that paladin of propagandistic protection, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue! What if some of her hyperlinks lead people to “dark places” and ideas?
All of which leads to a reductio ad absurdum she seems incapable of, or disinterested in, observing. It’s the kind of thing about which Ray Bradbury warned in his novel, “Fahrenheit 451,” wherein government-paid “Firemen” burned books to purge the world of “dangerous ideas”.
It is the idea of purging, silencing, or blocking access to ideas that is dangerous. Amazon is a private corporation (with big contracts tied to government), so its managers can do what they like. But calling for Amazon to silence ideas is a BAD IDEA.
And doing so by referencing a “think tank” with enormous ties to international politicians and the UN -- itself a political body that receives BILLIONS in our tax money, annually – is inexcusably offensive.