Anyway, one last link for the night -- the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a blogpost about it. Also, I have some thoughts. This is all conjecture, but:
It behooves us to remember that behind every event and company are human beings, and some of them are responsible, and some of them just happened to be standing nearby. Amazon is not a monster with a single brain; Amazon is a group of people who made a deeply stupid decision.
I don't think the company is anti-gay or anti-sexuality, though for years I have LOLed at how they sell sex toys but have no sex-toy category. I do think that the people in charge of this asswave did not coherently think through the consequences of removing "adult" literature from their bestsellers list, or that stripping sales ranks via metadata was a moronic way to do it. Nor do I think they considered the idea that people who love books don't take kindly to people who sell books hiding them.
I do think some portion of this is sloppy programming, but there's no way this was a computer glitch. Amazon was aware of this at least a few days ago and did shit-all about it until someone started shouting. Presumably, somehow, they expected the internet wouldn't care. The internet. Which is not at all famous for it's ability to TOTALLY OVER-REACT TO EVERYTHING, would not care about the biggest bookseller in cyberspace hatin' on the gays. Perhaps because Amazon is ancient, in internet terms -- it was one of the first major internet retailers and I would not be shocked if many of its higher-ups are not familiar with the internet as it exists today.
I want to think this was a series of mistakes caused by lack of thought and lack of foresight, because that means that it's just ignorance. Ignorance, unlike prejudice, is not hard to fix, especially when fixing it prevents the retail dollars of millions of buyers from drifting out the door. That's some motivation to learn. But there is something sinister about it all too -- the form letter, the lack of ramp-up or warning to authors, and the fact that this change was implemented over a holiday weekend all speak to someone pulling some fucking shenanigans.
What nobody seemed to comprehend is that if you shenanigan the internet, the internet generally shoots you in the face. That's the Chicago way! :D
So -- stupidity, ignorance, homophobia, bad programming, crossed wires...we don't know what happened at Amazon. I hope we find out, because I am a fan of transparent business practices, but I doubt we will (it'd make a great book if I was an investigative journalist). I think more important is what followed: a few people said "Huh?" and then a few more said "OH NOE YOU DIDNT" and then a whole lot more said "This is bullshit" and then Amazon got shot in the face. Metaphorically speaking. In the space of, oh...let's call it twenty-four hours? On a holiday weekend.
(This would make an even better book.)
ETA LATE BREAKING NEWS: http://tehdely.livejournal.com/88823.html is a believable and well-thought-out theory that could explain why only pro-sexuality and pro-homosexuality books were targeted. It is possible that some assholes chose this weekend as an ideal time to troll and get books reclassed as adult (full and much more coherent explanation at the post) which would them get them pulled. Because Jesus was totally about hating people who aren't like you. I mean that was like his gig, right?
Still doesn't let Amazon off the hook for delisting books some wingnut thinks are offensive, though.