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PUBLISHED: April 14, 2009

According to Motoko Rich, the New York Times’ authority on publishing, Amazon has begun to right the so-called “computer glitch” that removed gay and lesbian themed books from the website’s sales rankings and searches. The “glitch,” which company representatives later called an “embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error,” targeted literary classics such as James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and E.M. Forester’s Maurice, as well as respected nonfiction such as Nathaniel Frank’s book on gays in the military, Unfriendly Fire, and Daniel Mendelsohn’s memoir Elusive Embrace, reclassifying these books as “adult” products. While Amazon scrambles to reeducate whatever homophobic software caused the glitch in the first place, perhaps it’s time to rethink whether this is the company we want controlling the future of literature. Not only does the incident reek of blatant bias, it also displays a profound ignorance of literary history. Here is a short list of titles that Amazon might consider for the next round of censorship:

Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein (Carl Van Vechten)
  • William Shakespeare, Complete Sonnets
  • Jack Gilbert, The Great Fires
  • Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle
  • Tony Kushner, Angels in America
  • Virginia Woolf, Orlando
  • Walt Whitman, The Complete Poems
  • Gertrude Stein, The Autobigraphy of Alice B. Tolkas
  • Plato, The Symposium
  • Sappho, The Love Songs of Sappho
  • Dorthy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina
  • Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse
  • Jean Genet, The Thief’s Journal
  • Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born
  • Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation
  • Tennessee Williams, Moise and the World of Reason
  • Frederico García Lorca, The Public

If you are going to purge your website of gay and lesbian literature, you should at least do a thorough job of it.

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