[Click above to embiggen: our Amazon listing for SHUT UP!, which is under attack from trolls with Amazon’s blessing.]
Last month, my friend Megan Fox and I published a book about censorship and our experiences having the Orland Park Police, the Village of Orland Park, the Orland Park Public Library, and the American Library Association throwing everything they could at us to frighten, silence, and intimidate us into not speaking out against the child pornography, sex crimes, misuse of public monies, and other horrors, abuses, and scandals ongoing in one of the strangest and most messed-up public libraries in all of Illinois (the OPPL). The book is currently #56 in Amazon’s ranking of books covering censorship (and #145,000 out of all the millions of books on Amazon), which is something that Megan and I are proud of. We hope you read SHUT UP! The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment (and that you write an honest review of what you think of the book when you are finished).
Megan and I chose to publish independently on Amazon because the print industry is collapsing and within five to ten years (or sooner) publishing houses as they have existed in our lifetimes will be gone. The future is independent publishing. Megan and I had complete creative control over our book and were able to assemble a team of editors, formatters, graphic designers, and other freelancers to pool together the skills needed to take our manuscript and create from it a 666-page comprehensive account of the censorship that local government engaged in for almost three years to silence us as citizen sleuths and investigative reporters. Just five years ago, before Amazon made it so easy for independent authors to do this, Megan and I would have had to deal with a publishing house of some kind (and all the bureaucracy involved in that, with people compromising our vision and interfering in our work at every step of the way). Independent publishing through Amazon potentially offers, for the first time in human history, a chance for authors to put out exactly what they want to put out in exactly the way they want to put it out. That’s never happened before. Whether you think this is a good or a bad thing depends on if you believe having multiple-layers of non-authors meddling in books is the way things should be. I personally feel that giving the authors complete creative control is a freedom of thought and expression we’ve never had in this country before and am excited by the future. Just think of what Ben Franklin or Mark Twain could have done with this.
That being said, there are some things about Amazon and how conservative authors are treated there that I think you should know. I believe by sharing this that maybe other conservative authors will come forward and detail their own bad experiences too. Amazon might not realize this, but its systems are deliberately set up in ways that end up allowing the Left to punish, suppress, and censor conservative thought. Amazon should take steps to remedy this bias. I want to give Amazon the benefit of the doubt that they do not know this abuse and censorship is happening.
1. The Amazon review system is abused by the Left to harm conservative authors. If you look at the reviews that are up for SHUT UP!, Megan and I have been hit by several “drive-bys,” which are the equivalent of a brunch of drunk teenagers in an old beater peeling rubber while tossing rotten eggs and overripe tomatoes at our windows in the middle of the night. Our book was released on May 26th and was available for purchase on Amazon on May 26th. That was late in the evening on a Thursday. The first day that I believe anyone ever received a copy of the book from Amazon (that was not one of a half dozen advance copies that Megan and I had printed and that we gave to a handful of people personally) would have been on May 31st or so, allowing for processing and shipping. Yet, Amazon allowed members of the American Library Association (who encouraged each other to leave negative reviews of the book without ever reading it) to post hateful 1-star negative reviews of the book starting May 26th. Without knowing even what was in the book, let alone reading it, members of one of the groups that Megan and I wrote critically about went online and attacked our book with the negative reviews. That’s more than intellectual dishonesty: it’s a severe abuse of the review system that Amazon allows. If you think about it, only the Left does things like this and even if a conservative person doesn’t like something, he or she will not lie and write a fake negative review to tank it. Conservatives will actually do “what they are supposed to do” and read something first before being critical of it. The Left has the advantage of being full-on Alinsky and never reading a book before trashing it. This is who we are always up against.
2. Amazon takes down positive reviews of books (from people who actually read the book) but leaves up negative reviews (from people who never read the book). I thought this was fascinating and also foolish on Amazon’s part. Apparently, Amazon uses some kind of special algorithm or search function where it looks to see if a positive review is in any way connected to an author…and Amazon will remove positive reviews because it does not allow friends or family of an author to write positive reviews for a book. This means that anyone who is a Facebook friend of Megan or me will have his or her review taken down by Amazon (but only if they write a positive review). Amazon leaves all negative reviews up, even if they are written by people who have been trolling Megan and me for years and are obsessed with hating us. Everyone who writes about politics picks up trolls, like barnacles attacked to the hulls of ships. Trolls become obsessed with a writer and follow around taking snipes, scratching and clawing, and defecating wherever the writer’s work is published or discussed. It’s just what they do. Amazon claims it is trying to do something where it prevents unscrupulous people from paying for positive reviews on sites like Fivver.com, but Amazon’s methodology is flawed. Writers (like everyone) have “friends” on Facebook that they have never met in person and who sought them out as “friends” on social media because they liked their columns and their work. We need a new word for people who have never met a writer (or an actor, singer, politician, dancer, drag queen, sportsball player, etc.) who is in the public eye for some reason and ends up receiving “friend” requests from people that he or she has never met. Those people are not really “friends” and they are clearly not family…and they are the opposite of trolls. I guess you could call them “fans”…but I kind of prefer “elves” just because that seems a more nature opposite to “trolls.” Amazon deletes positive reviews from elves but allows trolls to do whatever they want. I think Amazon believes that no one would pay money to hire trolls to trash their work…and Amazon is only concerned with killing the Fivver market for bogus positive reviews. The elves get caught in the crossfire, because they are not being paid to write positive reviews and only write positive reviews because they love the writer’s work.
3. Amazon creates a situation that encourages censorship. Because of #1 and #2 above, Amazon’s system ends up enabling censorship because it makes it harder for people to legitimately review a book and voice honest opinions, since those get drowned out (or deleted by Amazon!) by all of the drive-by egg-and-tomato-tossing trolls. The negative 1-star reviews discourage people who know nothing about the author from reading a book, even though the negative reviews come from people who never read the book. Meanwhile, Amazon prevents people who actually read the book from leaving reviews because those people are connected in some way through social media to the author (despite never having ever met the author in person and the only connection between them being Facebook “friending”). The net effect of all this is that someone who works hard to write a book with conservative political thought is then trashed aggressively by Leftists and beaten into the ground, but Amazon prevents other people (the elves) from having a voice as well to counter the trolls. Amazon allows the trolls to do whatever they want, but censors the elves. And at the end of the day I wonder how many conservative authors will never bother to write a second book because of the way that Amazon allowed their first book to be treated.
I understand that Amazon wants to kill Fivver and end the blackmarket for fake positive reviews…but don’t they also have the responsibility to wipe out the fake negative reviews too?
That’s why I ask anyone who reads our book SHUT UP! to please write an honest review of it. Whether you like the book or not, if you’ve actually read it we want to know your real opinion. Megan and I spent three years of our lives on that Orland Park case. We spent every cent we could spare funding our investigation into what was going on in both that strange messed-up library and the corrupt Village of Orland Park (which has one of the most abusive police departments in all of Chicago). I ended up doing nothing else in my off-hours but read case law, file and process FOIA request responses, scour documents for clues, and piece together spending irregularities and crimes covered up in stacks of old incident reports. It was a massive undertaking that took over our lives…which is why it resulted in 666-pages that are now on Amazon being trashed by people who never read it (and will never read it). The fact that people who actually took the time to read our work are not allowed to voice their opinion because they are among the thousands of people we’ve never met on Facebook is just plain wrong.
Amazon needs to rethink what it is doing. This is very much like the whole Target transgender bathrooms thing. Amazon wants to address a problem it sees a small minority engaging in (the people who abuse the system by hiring Fivver to post fake positive reviews). So, Amazon punishes everyone by aggressively wiping out positive reviews from anyone they suspect might know the sister of the neighbor of the mailman who once delivered an Amazon package to an author. This is like Target saying that because someone who believes himself to now be transgendered once wanted to use the women’s washroom in Maine somewhere that every store coast to coast now has to allow men singing Shania Twain’s “I feel like a woman” into changing areas while girls are trying on swimsuits (because….diversity!). This is not how you handle an issue involving a small number of people. You do not make everyone suffer because you have a concern with a tiny minority. The majority should not be punished and subject to abuse because of the whims of the minority. That was wrong in South Africa during apartheid and it’s wrong in America (and on Amazon too).
© 2016, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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