I’ve ranted about this on fb, but it’s still driving me crazy. My book on crime reporting, race, and gender was published three years ago this summer. Almost immediately, someone posted a racist attack on the book that argued — against all empirical evidence — that my book’s premise was wrong and that, in fact, the 1990s had witnessed the “complete and utter breakdown of black morality” (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1099W4SM8QJEX/ref=cm_pdp_rev_all?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview).
At the time, I just avoided looking at the Amazon page, following Mrak’s advice “to not get into [another] pissing match with a skunk.” But the one star rating, plus the line that comes up — “Carol Stabile has been smoking crack” — show up in so many searches on the book that I finally sat down to write to Amazon about removing the review.
The Amazon guidelines (http://www.amazon.com/review/create-review/ref=cm_cr_dp_wr_but_right?ie=UTF8&nodeID=283155&asin=0415374812&store=books off the “fine print” section) say that they will remove reviews containing “Objectionable material,” which they define as:
• Obscene or distasteful content
• Profanity or spiteful remarks.
I contended that the reviewer’s opening gambit — “Carol Stabile has been smoking crack” — was in fact both distasteful and spiteful, but never heard back from Amazon about my request to remove it.
It’s a weird position to be in — I don’t mind negative reviews per se (there are a lot of flaws in the book that I’d correct had I a second chance) — but a one-star review that will turn up that phrase for eternity hardly seems fair.