An Open Letter To Jeff Bezos

Jeff, I need a favor. But first, I’m going to try to soften you up.

To that end, I’m fully prepared to ignore a few of your actions. For example,

  • You disrupted book publishing. I’ll look the other way. If you hadn’t done it someone else would have ripped the guts out of pen, paper, booksellers. Technology insists.
  • You demand long hours of your employees. I can understand. You want to take over the world and you hear the footsteps of competition real and imagined.

Feeling that glow of absolution? Ready to consider my requests? No? Maybe your ears will perk up if I point out that you and I share points of congruence?

  • You went to Princeton. Me too. Class of 1978. In the nation’s service and all that. But, meh, so we’re fellow Tigers, who cares? I wasn’t prone to rah-rah and neither I imagine were you.
  • How about I used to write a lifestyle blog and helped you sell books? Come Christmastime I always listed my reads, loved and despised. Last year I earned a grand total of $573.82 from you but now I’m boycotting and will link to Powell’s. And Target. Am I speaking your language? I jest.

So about that favor. I’ve used every trick in my book. Here goes nothing. Please, please, please stop advertising on Breitbart.

And we smash right into freedom of speech vs. protection of the weak, bloodying our noses on news and truth.

Do you agree that hate speech is a thing? Of course, the courts say you can shut down hate speech only if “fighting words” against a specific person are used. Speech that will cause harm “only” to a protected class is therefore allowed.

But that ruling allows Breitbart to put up headlines like ‘Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?’ Hmm.

Alternatively, how do you feel about true news vs. fake news? You bought the Washington Post. Seems like the code word might be “Watergate,” right? Seems like any right-minded person ought to object to Breitbart’s high-production-value, high-controversy lies. Isn’t it amazing how a good layout allows people to believe falsehoods that justify their fear and hatred of other humans?

Let me hasten to add, I don’t ask you to take #MAGA merchandise down from Amazon.com. Your party politics are your own business. Neither do I ask you to speak out for democracy, good behavior, or compassion. Capitalism doesn’t require virtue, but, even Bill Gates is fighting for the well-being of the world.

I ask only that you stop supporting fake hate speech news. I’ll say “Please” again, because my generation thought polite speech mattered. We were perhaps correct.

The final try

Jeff, if nothing I’ve said has convinced you, which, mind you, I understand, please make this change to your enormous, historic enterprise because you can. Because this is one tiny action for a big guy. Because your drive to wealth and success (looking the other way again since I suspect America’s culture can drive innovation), has brought you to power. You’ve arrived at privilege, and if we are a moral society the point of privilege must be to do some good. Just a little good.

I got nothing else but sorrow for the country I believed we were.