It's all a "glitch", says Amazon. After a weekend of being bombarded by emails organized by Twitter (we told you it was an important gay political tool!) under the hashtag #amazonfail, the world's largest online retailer of books is apologizing for de-ranking dozens of gay books by classifying them as "adult literature"…
[S]ome of the books de-ranked over the weekend, including Paul Monnette's 1992 National Book Award winner Becoming a Man, have been added back, but many others, including E.M. Forster's Maurice, remain classified as too-hot-to-handle adult material, which means that in Amazon's eyes, Hugh Grant was in a porn when he appeared in the Merchant & Ivory adaptation of the book.
Amazon's silence isn't helping the impression that there's some homophobic censorship going on, either. Do a search for "homosexuality" on Amazon and the first title to show up is A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.
[A]t least one author was told that the decision was based on policy, not technical error.
A petition against the policy is rapidly attracting signatures and contains more details.
It's an old story, of course, that "adultness" attaches to innocuous registrations of queer and same-sex life while different standards attach to heterosexual desires and practices. I don't doubt that a glitch exacerbated the already prevailing double-standards in play here, compounded by a little (okay, a lot of) PR tone-deafness.
It's actually quite a good thing to find very public organizing against these idiotic double-standards playing into a corporate bottom line and therefore nudging the standards a smidge in the direction of sense as a result, even if Amazon ultimately isn't behaving like a mustache twirling villain here but is just being a bit inept, as I expect is actually the case.
Of course, the deeper pathology that censors and delegitimizes profane discourse literally everybody hears every day as a matter of course, and that celebrates inter-personal violence while walling off representations of inter-personal pleasures and passions in all their variety, will be an engine yielding these sorts of double-standards and scandals and outrages endlessly pointlessly on and on and on, however this one resolves itself.