Mark S. King

Walmart Is Selling a Profane Book

Filed By Mark S. King | March 22, 2011 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: bullying, it gets better, LGBT youth

Walmart is selling the new It Gets Better book. Just don't call it "gay."

Thumbnail image for It Gets Better.jpgWhen I noticed that Walmart had listed It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living on their web site, I answered the invitation to "be the first to review this item!" and typed in a quick review (I reviewed it quite favorably last week here and for my blog My Fabulous Disease).

Nice try. My submission was nixed because I used the word "gay," which the site explained was "profanity." I felt properly chastised and removed the offensive word from my review, which remains "under review."

The most socially accepted term for my sexuality is profane. Really? I guess uttering "homosexual" or "queer" would have produced a total meltdown. I can see where twits might sometimes try including "That's so gay" in their posts, but to label the word profane is ludicrous. Actually, "ludicrous" sounds kinda dirty. I wonder if you can say that word at Walmart. I must try using it with a cashier there sometime and see if she calls security.

I've sent e-mails to both their corporate feedback online and to their media folks, but as of this writing there has been no response.

These touchy straight heterosexual typical Walmart people. Whatcha gonna do?


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In a way I almost sympathize with Walmart. Knowing that the very word "gay" will cause right-wing fundie-Christian crazies to threaten a boycott, the Walmart folks just want to conduct business with everyone (that is to say, they want everyone's money) without having to referee the culture wars.

Since apparently they foresee this, it is a miracle that they are carrying the book at all. OTOH, Walmart having a reputation for being popular with conservative and less-affluent shoppers, they are making this book available to the people who need to read it most -- and on that point, they deserve our support.

But censoring one side and not the other is not an acceptable way to deal with this situation. If a fundie had submitted a review saying "This book is the work of the devil" would Walmart have called that profane as well? If they are going to censor, then the only fair thing to do is to not allow any reviews at all.

And I agree with what you, Mark, imply in the title to this post -- why is the word "gay" profane when appearing on the Walmart website, but not profane when it appears within the pages of the book itself?

It's a mess -- as the culture wars often are. But it's also messy to deliver a message to a clientele (conservative, rural, price-conscious shoppers) that doesn't want to hear it.

The proper response to determined small-mindedness is to never, ever shop there. Ever.

As of this writing, my review, minus the G word, has not be posted, and Walmart has not replied to my e-mails.

From Gay Politics Report, March 22, 2011:

Apple approves app from group that aims to turn gays straight - Change.org has called on Apple to stop distributing an iPhone application submitted by Exodus International, a group that seeks to cure homosexuality. "In light of the recent wave of LGBT youth suicides, this tactic is particularly galling as it creates, legitimizes, and fuels the ostracism of LGBT youth by their families," said Truth Wins Out, an LGBT advocacy group. Daily News (New York) (3/19)

This is a little off-topic, but it caused me to wonder ... Is anyone offering or working on an "It Gets Better" app for smartphones?

On a quick visit to Google I didn't find one ... although I see it has already been suggested [=here=].

Dear Dan and Terry:
All lives are worth living.

your review on the site now includes the word "gay". i guess it wasn't considered profane.

Like many people who grew up gay and afraid, my soul may have survived those years but I have a few scars left behind. It Gets Better gently strokes these wounds — the toughened and the still-tender ones — so that young people today might take heart and make the journey to adulthood a little more safely. There's no denying the power of this project, and what could easily be the most important book of the year. You can read my full review at http://marksking.com/my-fabulous-disease/the-book-with-a-promise-it-gets-better/

Seems they went the route of xbox live. Remember when they tried to ban gay because teens were using it as a slur? With wal-marts customer base, I'd imagine they're trying to avoid that kinda crap in user reviews.

Google Instant does the same thing with lesbian and bisexual. None of these algorithms ever do it with "straight."

It's Ravi from Walmart's media relations team. Recently it was brought to our attention that Mark King was unable to complete a review of the book “It Gets Better” on Walmart.com. We regret that a filter did not allow his review of the book to post and we quickly worked to resolve this technical issue. Mark’s review is now viewable on Walmart.com at: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=15417381.

We reached out to Mark directly to discuss the issue and, as an extra measure, we have reviewed the system to ensure that it will allow the use of all appropriate words related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

We're thankful Mark brought this to our attention and are happy we could get this issue quickly resolved.