Douglas Andrews / July 19, 2021

The Book-Burning Book-Sellers

The nation’s leading bookseller’s organization joins the Left’s fight against free speech and freedom of expression.

Abigail Shrier has written an important book. A really important book. And the organization whose job it is to sell such books is doing its best to keep it from being sold. The Wall Street Journal editorial board explains:

The American Booksellers Association apologized Wednesday for a “terrible” and “serious, violent incident.” What dastardly offense did it commit? The profound trauma occurred this month when the trade group dedicated to selling books sent out a paperback copy of a book some of its members don’t like.

The book at issue is “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” by Abigail Shrier. It argues, as Ms. Shrier explained in these pages last year, “that transgender identification among teen girls has become a social contagion,” and that medical intervention for teenage girls with sudden-onset gender dysphoria can cause serious and permanent harm.

So that was it. The “violent incident” was the sharing of a book by a 121-year-old organization that routinely shares books. As if the book weren’t a book at all, but a mail bomb instead.

If it’s not entirely clear what Shrier means by “a social contagion,” consider that, as she writes, “In the nearly 100-year diagnostic history of ‘gender dysphoria’ — severe discomfort in one’s biological sex — the disorder first appeared in early childhood (ages 2 to 4) and overwhelmingly afflicted boys. Today, teen girls with no history of childhood dysphoria are suddenly the leading demographic.”

“Leading,” though, doesn’t do justice to this situation. The data do. “From 2016-17,” she writes, “the number of gender surgeries on girls and women in the U.S. quadrupled, with biological females accounting for 70% of all gender surgeries.”

Important topic, no? And yet the nation’s leading bookselling organization is begging forgiveness from its members for having shared a complimentary copy of the book with them. Indeed, get a load of the ABA’s apology: “We apologize to our trans members and to the trans community for this terrible incident and the pain we caused them. We also apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community at large, and to our bookselling community. Apologies are not enough. We’ve begun addressing this today and are committed to engaging in the critical dialogue needed to inform concrete steps to address the harm we caused. Those steps will be shared in the next three weeks.”

It’s been a rough week for the ABA, which also felt the need to apologize for a case of mistaken identity. As The Daily Wire reports, “In a note sent late Wednesday, the CEO of American Bookseller’s Association … apologized for accidentally including a cover image of Candace Owens’ book ‘Blackout’ in a publicity post on its website.” (The ABA, which called Owens’s book “racist” and equated it to “violence,” had meant to feature a collection of teen romances with the same title.)

Unfortunately, the ABA isn’t alone in its efforts to censor the marketplace of ideas. As the Journal reports, “On Thursday afternoon Ms. Shrier’s book no longer appeared to be available on the website of Target, the giant retailer. … This week NBC News reported that two Amazon employees resigned after the company continued to offer Ms. Shrier’s book. Hundreds more have called in a petition for the book’s removal from the online marketplace.”

Remember when the Left used to denounce prudish, proscriptive conservatives for complaining about a dung-splattered Virgin Mary, a urine-drenched crucifix, or a bull whip emerging from the alimentary canal of Robert Mapplethorpe? Those were the days.

These days, however, the Left is attacking one book after another, and one serious author after another. In May, we reported on book publisher Simon & Schuster’s shameful cancellation of Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley’s contract to publish The Tyranny of Big Tech, ostensibly because of “his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom” — which is another way of saying “his role in questioning the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.”

In light of the Left’s wholesale assault on free speech, we can’t help but wonder what, exactly, it’s afraid of. The weakness of its arguments, perhaps?

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