In my 1st Amendment essay two days ago, I discussed our political rights. But there is more to it in present day American than legality. There is voluntary censorship by corporate entities.
A person has the right to think, say, and print whatever he desires. A person who owns a printing press, or an FM microstation, certainly has the right to choose what content he will print or put on the airwaves. But here is where it gets interesting.
Most media in present day America is owned by corporations, often large corporations. Corporations are creations of the state, and subject to it in ways that private individuals and businesses are not. The radio and TV channels of the electromagnetic spectrum are assigned/licensed by the Federal government. The FCC’s “fairness” and “equal time” doctrines are media censorship by the Feds. (No, there is absolutely zero Constitutional authority to regulate these channels).
Major newspapers and book publishers are also corporations, many of them owned or based from New York City. Until recently, they could control what types of views were presented to Americans, as they controlled the presses. Unless one could find a small printer in small town America who would touch your dissident material, and one had the money to pay in advance to print up a bunch of copies, then you could not get published.
But the Internet changed all of this. The Internet allowed people to put up websites and blogs devoted to controversial material. Alternative radio began to stream broadcasts on the net, with no use of the electromagnetic channels that the government was licensing! Then, on demand digital publishing began.
Companies like Amazon’s CreateSpace, Lulu, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press started up. They would let average Americans write their owns books, electronically format them, submit them via the internet, and then house them on their database to be printed “on demand” when a customer ordered one from an online site like Amazon.
This allowed a person to print with no up-from capital required. The company was not out any significant money either. If a title did not sell, they lost nothing as there were no warehouse full of unwanted books; if a title sold, they made money. They took this gamble, and a bunch of “indie” writers emerged -like myself.
They are publishing so many books, mostly novels, that I do not believe that they even read, let alone screen, the books they publish. But here is the rub.
The huge corporations that own the digital on-demand book publishers are just that -corporations. They can voluntary censor material that they do not like. In the last year, we saw a test case of this.
Jim Fetzer- a Ph. D. , former U.S.M.C. officer, college professor,and author- published a conspiracy/alternative theory about the alleged mass shooting at Sandy Hook. Fetzer claimed that Sandy Hook was an elaborate FEMA drill hoax, with no actual shooting, and that it was done to promote gun control.His book was selling, and then CreateSpace ceased printing it, and it was removed from the Amazon website. It got popular enough that powerful people saw, it complained,and had it pulled.
(Note: I have not read Fetzer’s book,and I am not taking a position on his theory here.
This was legal and did not violate the 1st Amendment, but it was censorship. This will no doubt continue. If you see a politically incorrect book you like on Amazon or elsewhere, you had better buy it while you can. I am quite possibly only in print through CreateSpace only because I am not yet widely known and popular.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.