THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 564, April 4, 2010
"This is the lie of democracies and republics.
Your opinion doesn't matter."
The Wilson/Smith Big Announcement
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Reference Letter from L. Neil Smith
I have great enthusiasm for the concept of making current, backlisted and unavailable books available in electronic format. Baen Books, despite political differences I have no control over, actually sets the standard for such endeavors and has been quite successful at it in what is arguably a niche market.
That being said, with all due respect to Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilson, I object strenuously to the method you have chosen.
It is bad enough to have to take extraordinary measures to defend your PC, laptop, cell phone and PDA from freelance attacks by hackers and script kiddies. It is worse to have to do the same with respect to sanctioned attacks from governments worldwide, our own in particular. But when a private corporation becomes the moral equivalent of a book-burning brownshirted thug, it is our moral responsibility to see to it that the corporation in question suffers in the only way understandable to the likes of such creaturesin the purse.
Amazon is such a corporation.
Less than a year ago, Amazon goofed. They released a version of two books to Kindle that it was later discovered they did not have the rights to. Amazon then goofed again by reaching out to every Kindle and deleting every copy they could lay their hands on. This is the electronic equivalent of some jack-booted gestapo thug deciding that you don't need to read, or even possess "that book", snatching it out of your hands, and throwing it into a burn barrel before your very eyes, daring you to do your unarmed best against the government monopoly on force.
It is not lost on any intelligent creature that both books were by George Orwell. Even if Amazon refunded their customer's money.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos cried real crocodile tears when the public backlash over his corporation's actions pimp-slapped him right across that rock he uses for a head. Having stepped on his crank with golf shoes, eyes glistening with fake remorse, Bezos beat his breast, traded his power suit for sackcloth, and promised, cross his (arguably absent) heart and hope to die that Amazon will never, never, never, ever do it again. Really. Trust me.
Pull the other one, Jeff: It's got bells on. You can't unfire a gun, and the paraffin test on your hands and the hands of the accomplices under your supervision is positive. Amazon, and you personally, have already demonstrated the ability and willingness to become self-appointed book burners. How long will it be before some freedom-despising government agency demands that you hand over the master keys to every Kindle in existence for some dubious moral or political purpose, to monitor and suppress Crimethink, or to further the false "war on terror"?
And how do we know that you, "Citizen" Bezos of Minitruth, self-appointed volunteer of the Nightwatch, charter member of the Senior Anti-Sex League, haven't already done so to preserve your position? As I stated on your own comments board when this fustercluck of galactic proportions surfaced, I would not buy a Kindle if it came bundled with one of your virgin teenage granddaughters as my personal sex slave. I have not seen anything since that would cause me to change my stance on this, and if that means I have to wait a little longer for things I want to read, so be it.
Thus I must express my grave disappointment that two of the founding fathers of modern libertarian thought have chosen to pimp themselves to Amazon. Sorry, guys, but there's no way I can sugar-coat this. Amazon may have been the best (or maybe the only) way to do this, but I really wish you could have held out for someone whose moral compass actually pointed in one direction at all times, even if it's the wrong direction. It means that I will not be able to read things that I have spent decades scouring used bookstores to find, and that hurts. But I refuse to send one red cent to support a corporation and a man who has once embraced evil, not to mention situational ethics, and has forever lost my trust.
Hier stehe ich. And no, I'm not planning to nail this to your doors. TLE is sufficient.