Saturday, May 19, 2012

A word or two (thousand) in defense of defending

Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I think I have a pretty honest assessment of myself.  In other words, I know I can be a real bitch.  And not just in a generally bitchy way but in a persistent, American Staffordshire Pit Bull Terrier way.  When I get into that "I know damn well I'm right and you're going to know it too before I'm done with you" mode, I can be a pain in the ass.

Acknowledging that is not the same as apologizing for it, and it certainly is not the same as promising I won't do it again.

I don't think there's anything wrong with defending a stance on a controversial issue.  Whether that issue is nuclear energy, reproductive rights, immigration, voter fraud, plagiarism/copyright infringement, or publishers' illegal collusion to fix prices, I firmly believe that passionate defense is not only right but almost obligatory.

If someone tells me "It's not worth getting riled up about" or "Don't piss people off" or "Everyone's entitled to their opinion even if they're wrong," I can come mildly unglued.

And here's why.

Everyone is entitled to her own opinion, but not to her own facts.

If, for instance, you wish to believe that the Agency pricing agreement between the Big 6 publishers and Apple is illegal but morally defensible because Amazon is becoming a monopoly, you are entitled to believe that, because it's an opinion based on facts.

1.  There was such an Agency pricing agreement
2.  Such collusion to fix prices is illegal.
3.  Amazon may (or may not) be becoming a monopoly.

You are entitled to base your opinion on fact.  And if you say that is your opinion, that's fine.

What arouses my passion and my pit bullishness is those who base their opinions on non-factual "facts" and/or faulty logic such as this:

1.  The implementation of Agency pricing actually lowered the price of ebooks.
2.  If Amazon becomes a monopoly, they will immediately abolish printed books.
3.  It's legal for publishers and Apple to fix prices because other industries like cosmetics do the same thing.
4.  It's okay for publishers and Apple to break laws to fix prices because Amazon breaks laws, too.

Those of us who operate in a reality-based environment know that empirical facts contradict all of those four assertions, and a lot more.  Agency pricing immediately raised the price of ebooks.  Amazon still distributes printed books published by print publishers and Amazon can't make them stop printing.  The specific kind of price fixing involved with ebooks has absolutely no parallel in the cosmetics industry, none whatsoever, so the comparison is ludicrous.  Two wrongs don't make a right.

I think it's morally wrong to allow such assertions to go unchallenged.  Even at the risk of alienating friends and supporters who don't want the boat rocked, who want everyone to get along, blah blah blah, I will continue to defend myself and the facts.  The truth may be the truth, but it still needs to be defended, and sometimes with passion.

No comments:

Post a Comment