Tony Perkins / Feb. 23, 2021

Amazon Censorship Leaves a Plot to Be Desired

Because at Amazon, free speech is no longer a functioning principle.

Ryan Anderson didn’t even know his book had been pulled. There was no warning, no notification from Amazon that the title had been removed. A reader tipped him off when he tried to buy a copy and couldn’t. That’s strange, Ryan thought, logging on to Amazon to see for himself. Sure enough — his bright blue and pink book cover, When Harry Became Sally, had been replaced with a message: this is no longer a functioning page. Because at Amazon, free speech is no longer a functioning principle.

“I hope you’ve already bought your copy,” Ryan tweeted Sunday, breaking the news. “Given the aggressive push on trans policies coming from the Biden administration, now is a great time to read it… before you no longer can.” Conservatives, liberals, and even transgender activists were stunned at the latest cancel culture victim. “Jeff Bezos will sell you Hitler’s autobiography, because he correctly trusts readers to understand that malignant book,” Rod Dreher shook his head. “But he will not sell you a book by the head of a major American think tank, making an argument critical of gender ideology, because… Why?”

That’s a question that even the far-Left can’t answer. Even people on the opposite ideological spectrum couldn’t believe Amazon would stoop to viewpoint discrimination. “As someone who disagrees with the conclusions of my fellow (but unrelated) Anderson, ‘When Harry Became Sally’ is really a stellar read,” Ross Anderson insisted, “particularly for those of us who disagree with him! I highly recommend it, and it’s mad that Amazon would remove it.” Others, like Chad Greene — who identifies as a transgender — argued that “this book is enlightening, thoughtful, and well-researched. It provides necessary and important information on the science and social impact of the gender identity movement.”

And it wasn’t as if the book was a flop — far from it, in fact. When Harry Became Sally was a best-seller for Amazon and cracked number three on the Washington Post’s paperback nonfiction list in 2019, a year after its release. But then, the corporate mob has never been motivated by money. They’re driven by one thing and one thing only — fear. Radicals like Bezos are terrified that people might be persuaded to think differently than them. So instead of exposing the world to other ideas, they try to make them inaccessible. They’ll say they’re trying to end hate or prejudice. But at the end of the day, it’s intellectual cowardice. The Left can’t win the debate, so they shut down the people with the science and moral truth that can.

“Biology isn’t bigotry,” Ryan explains in the book that Amazon didn’t bother to read. “We need to respect the dignity of people who identify as transgender,” he argues, but we also need “to help people think about these issues more carefully.” Liberal extremists have every right to criticize our views, but — as Jonathan Zimmerman wrote when Abigail Shrier’s book on transgenderism was stripped from Target shelves — "they shouldn’t prevent others from obtaining it and from coming to their own conclusions about it. That’s the fear of the censor, in all times and places: that someone, somewhere will think the wrong thing…“ But eventually, he points out, their strategy will backfire. "It always does.”

Already, a coalition of U.S. publishers, retailers, and authors have been writing to Congress, demanding that leaders start an anti-trust fight to break up Bezos’s book monopoly. In 2019, they pointed out, Amazon controlled 50 percent of all book distribution. Now, that number is as high as 70-80 percent. Not only does that squash competition, but it’s also — as this controversy proves — squashing viewpoints as well.

It’s time for Americans to push back. Anyone who’s watched the Left’s progression understands: the mob won’t stop with words on a page. The thoughts and beliefs of the heart are next. Unfortunately for them, Zimmerman points out, “Censoring people never persuades them. It might bring them to heel, but it won’t change their minds.” And minds are one thing the Left can’t cancel.

Originally published here.

Dems Forgo Equality Control with Radical Bill

The original U.S. Constitution can survive a bomb, a massive fire — even a nuclear blast. But can it survive the House majority’s agenda? Based on their latest bill, the Equality Act, no one is quite sure.

Religious liberty and free speech have had a good run, but as far as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is concerned, they’ve stood in the Left’s way long enough. It’s time to get back to the business of controlling how every American thinks, speaks, and acts on issues of human sexuality with one sweeping bill. Liberals call it the Equality Act, but as the details make quite clear, the only equal thing about it is how much damage it does to every facet of American life.

Most people were outraged by Joe Biden’s bathroom mandate, but that’s nothing compared to the boom Democrats are trying to lower on mainstream morality in law. If you can imagine a country without women’s sports, boys and girls restrooms, gender-specific pronouns, privacy, parental rights, workplace dress codes, business autonomy, Christian wedding vendors, and conscience protections — you’ve got the Equality Act. It’s a world that hunts down and punishes anyone who thinks differently from the Left on gender or sexuality. And that includes schools, businesses, food banks, adoption agencies, homeless shelters, day cares, faith-based ministries, and government offices.

Picture walking into your child’s preschool for mandatory transgender story hour. Or think about your teenage daughter finishing gym class and being forced to shower and change with biological boys. Imagine being fired for calling a man “him.” Or maybe you’re standing over the counter of your new store, holding a subpoena because the “nonbinary” you interviewed wasn’t the best candidate for the job. These aren’t hypotheticals. This is the reality of a nation that embraces the phony “equality” liberals are selling.

Americans have come dangerously close to passing this death knell for the First Amendment before. Now, with the president and Democratic Congress on their side, it will take true political courage — and a groundswell of the grassroots — to stop it. “Pass it swiftly,” President Biden urged the House and Senate on Friday. But that would be the worst thing leaders could do, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) argued on “Washington Watch.”

Joe Biden and his party are selling this bill, Harris insisted, as something that stops discrimination against sexual minorities. “But in fact, this goes well beyond that. We know that the Supreme Court’s already said you can’t discriminate for those reasons. This is basically a pro-abortion bill. It goes against religious freedom. It goes against the rights of people to actually have a belief that’s different from the commonly held beliefs that liberals hold. This is a very, very dangerous bill that goes under an innocent moniker of the quote-unquote Equality Act. Look, we all want equality, but that’s not what this bill is about.”

Most people have heard about how it would affect girls’ sports or bathrooms. That alone “turns common sense on its head.” But in one of the least talked about aspects of the bill, Harris says, it “completely upends the entire relationship between the federal government and the abortion industry — [including] the ability to restrict abortions, the ability to restrict abortion funding, the ability to allow people with deeply held religious convictions not to participate in these events, whether it’s a provider or hospital. You know, the Little Sisters of the Poor will basically have to fund abortions if this bill goes through.”

This bill is a one-stop-shopping for the worst the far-Left agenda has to offer. As Harris pointed out (and FRC’s issue brief explains), the Equality Act doesn’t just torch religious freedom and the First Amendment, it guts every pro-life protection ever passed into law. Faith-based hospitals and medical staff could find themselves completely defenseless against a sex discrimination claim for refusing to perform or offer abortions — which liberals will argue gives “a related medical condition” to pregnancy “less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” State laws could be just as vulnerable in court, where activist judges are all too eager to expand abortion.

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines on this bill, time is running out! Get off the fence and take a stand now. Contact your representatives and urge them to vote no on the Equality Act!

Originally published here.

Florida Keys up Election Changes

Florida may not have had the same election issues as other battleground states in November, but that doesn’t mean they’re satisfied. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) believes the Sunshine State has a lot to be proud of when it comes to 2020, but he still thinks they can do better.

“Last November,” DeSantis told reporters at a press conference on Friday, “Florida held the smoothest, most successful election of any state in the country. While we should celebrate this feat, we should not rest on our laurels. Today,” he announced, “we are taking action to ensure that Florida remains a leader on key issues regarding our electoral process, such as ballot integrity, public access to election information, transparency of election reporting and more.”

With his new proposal, DeSantis is joining 32 other states in suggesting major overhauls to their election process. Building on a piece of legislation that’s already been filed in the state Senate, he asks for key changes like banning ballot harvesting from anyone but an immediate family member, limiting mail-in ballots, forcing voters to apply for those mail-in ballots every year (instead of every two years), demanding signature matching for ballots, and regulating ballot drop boxes.

State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R) is helping to lead the charge, explaining that “some of these supervisors of elections have gone rogue when it comes to these drop boxes. We need to rein them in big time.” On a broader scale, he promises, “We are going to stop elections officials hiding in the backroom, duplicating ballots, matching signatures. That needs to be open, in front, and transparent for the world to see.”

Another controversial area DeSantis plans to address is the flood of “get-out-the-vote” money from private groups — like Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which helped rewrite the election rules in more than 2,500 U.S. jurisdictions. For months, Phill Kline and others have argued that this was one of the biggest problems of 2020. “We had a shadow government managing these elections, particularly in the urban core,” he explained. “They set up these procedures that allowed for the breach of the chain of custody of the ballots and the infusion of fraudulent ballots.”

With the country pounded by coronavirus and congressional talks at a standstill, the Facebook titan chipped in his own money to help keep the election on track. Or so he said. Using CTCL as a screen, Zuckerberg started funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to local elections offices to help deal with the shortfalls during the pandemic. Instead, they were deciding how many poll places should be open, hiring the people who count the vote — and paying them — setting up new drop boxes, and sending activists-turned-election officials into neighborhoods to collect ballots. “This is like the elections brought to you by Coca-Cola or the National Rifle Association,” Kline shook his head, “except it’s Mark Zuckerberg.”

Under Florida’s plan, that would end. No “private, third-party organizations” would be able to funnel cash to Florida precincts under the auspices of “helping” local election officials. “By strengthening these election integrity protections, we will ensure that our elections remain secure and transparent, and that Florida’s electoral process remains a blueprint for other states to follow.”

In just two months, more than 165 bills have been filed to deal with the mess of 2020 — four times the amount of last year. So be encouraged — and more importantly, get involved! If your state is debating election reform, make sure your voice is heard. If they aren’t, contact your state officials and suggest one of these 10 ways that they can weed out fraud.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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