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A public letter to Amazon

Reader comment on item: Amazon.com's Koran Desecration Problem

Submitted by Stuart Fagin (United States), May 24, 2005 at 10:36

Dear Ms. Smith,

I am a longtime patron of Amazon. I have always found your company responsible, considerate and capable. I have recently read about the incident regarding the Koran and Ms.Azza Basarudin. In response to the incident I urge Amazon to publicly express these evident points.

1. Amazon in no way endorses the thoughts alleged to have been written in the book.
2. When Amazon acts as an intermediary between a used-book purchaser and a used-book book-seller, Amazon has no obligation, indeed no ability, to certify an absence of offensive writing by previous owners. Likewise, the book-seller has no such obligation.
3. Amazon supports the principle of religious tolerance. However, as Amazon has in no way acted with malice or negligence, we can see no justification for increasing our charitable contributions toward programs of religious tolerance as a consequence of it.
4. We see no evidence that the book-seller, Bellwether Books, has acted negligently or maliciously. Therefore, we will not take punitive action against Bellwether Book and will continue our relations with them.
5. It is our hope that none of our patrons experience offense as a result of remarks written in used books purchased through Amazon. However, we also hope that our patrons will be understanding of Amazon's position with regard to the services we provide and our responsibilities attendant to those services.

Ms. Smith, I believe these simple arguments will ring true with the vast majority of your patrons. Surely, you must recognize that the pose of hyper-sensitivity exhibited by Ms.Azza Basarudin ("I dropped the book because I didn't know what to do. I was paralyzed after 9/11 — I couldn't leave my house for a couple of weeks — and I realized that fear was coming back. I couldn't even go near this book for a couple of days. I feel like I'm being violated all over again because I'm a Muslim.") is simply a vehicle to pressure a large company. If you stand against this pressure I believe your patrons will stand with you.

Stuart Fagin

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