eBay is taking down and banning the sale of Dr. Seuss books for containing “offensive” content. According to Chad Crawford aka @AUChizad on Twitter eBay removed his item for sale. In an email he received, which he kindly forwarded to me, eBay warns that if he tries to post it again, he could be banned outright.

In this interview, Crawford explains listing the product and the ensuing bidding war that was beginning to take place. He walked me through what happened and if he’s heard from eBay staff.

eBay did not return a request for comment.

 

Chad Crawford on his Dr. Seuss eBay Experience

Here’s the tweet from Chad Crawford about eBay taking down his sale. You’ll notice we don’t speak about if the book and it’s representations are morally right or wrong. The bigger question is the cancellation and suppression of speech. eBay is a private business and they can do what they wish, but is this modern-day digital book burning a concerning sign?

As of this writing, you can find Mein Kampf written by Adolf Hitler and And To Think I Saw it On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss on the website. (I can’t even believe I wrote those two titles in the same sentence.) It’s unclear if eBay is banning sales of both, or why people are allowed to list Mein Kampf titles to begin with. Obviously, the Dr. Seuss controversy is somewhat new, unlike other titles.

Crawford isn’t alone. The eBay seller forums have similar stories from multiple sources.

 

 

Should We Ban Books?

The bigger problem here isn’t that racism exists, or there have been bad portrayals of various ethnicities in the past. Indeed some old cartoons I’ve seen recently certainly raise some eyebrows. The bigger question is should we ban them and prevent them from existing in the public square.

As I’ve previously stated, we should be allowing all points of view in the public square. If we decide to cancel all statements that may be offensive to someone, we are effectively canceling everyone and everything because all of us have said offensive comments at some point.

Those statements are an opportunity for discussion and just because someone made a mistake doesn’t mean they should be destroyed or their entire body of work tossed out. For the best ideas to exist in the public square, means allowing discussion of all perspectives, even offensive conversation.

Only when everything is exposed to light, can we question, challenge, apologize, love each other, innovate and move forward as a culture. Let’s end cancel culture and begin a new era of grace culture.

 

 

 

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