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But they sell Hitler! and other comments on bans – #509

Time and time again I see this point being made. You can’t get Dr. Seuss, but you can get Hitler! Yes. So? The reason I say that is because the answer to “so?” seems to be that they should ban those books too, or in some cases if they allow those they should allow Dr. Seuss.
My personal thinking is simple, they have the right to decide what to sell and consumers have the right to be upset about that decision. Use the power of the market to make them sell what you want them to sell.

That they are selling Hitler is merely them telling you what they find acceptable.

Not necessarily why they do, but that they do. Maybe they leave Hitler because they are for it, and for what he stood for, or maybe they allow Hitler because they think hiding Hitler is a bad idea. I don’t know. They allow it, and I am glad they do. Not everyone who reads Hitler, or the Communist Manifesto does so because they love them. I have a copy of each on my Kindle. I hate what both stand for but how can I argue against them without understanding them?

If it were up to me – it clearly isn’t – all of these books would be allowed.

To that end, if you think racism is bad, letting it exist is the best way to point out that it is bad. I like what Disney has done on Disney+ with some of the shows. They put a disclaimer that tells you what is wrong with the show according to them and that states you get to decide. That’s how it should be. Let people decide. But, corporations are deciding too just like us. The only reason we get upset is because their choices limit our choices. If you can’t get Dr. Seuss on eBay that limits your choice. But, that’s life. Your choices often limit the choices of others. In this case I think libertarians are onto something when it comes to NAP.

For those who aren’t familiar with that it stands for “Non-Aggression Principle”.

The word “aggression” often includes attitudes, and it should, but in the case of NAP it covers, “hostile or violent behavior” toward others that are not defensive in nature. I am not a libertarian so I won’t pretend to know the diversity of thought on this issue. What I do understand about NAP has it in good stead with me. It’s a simple and easy way to explain how humans should behave toward others. Deciding not to sell something, or provide a platform for it, is not aggression. It is the property owner (say eBay) deciding what to do or not do with their property (their business assets). The act of aggression would be to force them to sell something using the law. You can Persuade all you want. Even using angry tones.

Cry Hitler Wolf
If you were having a garage sale and the community said you must sell your neighbors’ stuff too you would be well within your rights to say no. You do not violate NAP by telling them no. Even if they argue that you doing so means your neighbor is out the money they would have made and the other neighbors are out the opportunity to buy his great stuff.

That’s what eBay is doing.

Unlike you and your yard sale eBay touches a lot more individuals and has a much wider influence on the world around them. So I do not say these things are 100% alike and books are different than other things. While some books have value as a thing, an object, most of the real value is to be found between the covers of the book in the ideas and notions put forth in them. So selling your neighbor’s ottoman on your yard sale is not a 1:1 comparison. I hope though that it is enough for you to see that people have rights and those rights extend to the people who own corporations. Most certainly if the shareholders of eBay wished it, they could put pressure on management to change this. While I think it is morally wrong to stop selling Dr. Seuss I must accept that they have the right.
That’s the thing about NAP. The thing that makes it so difficult though out history to follow. People want to impose their will on others. It is a natural human trait. It is only by overcoming the natural man that people can live together and that, has proven to be a very difficult thing indeed.
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