There’s a “one-star vs five-star” battle going on at Amazon on the page of Ryan Anderson’s newly published book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, the first book to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage.

With the print version not even released yet (August 31 is the date) but availble on Kindle, Anderson’s book is already No 1 Best Seller in the General Constitutional Law category at Amazon and at this moment has 222 reviews, 69 percent of which give it a five star rating while 26 percent give it one star. There’s nothing much in between. The average rank is 3.9.

However, that’s up from a couple of days ago when the average rank was 3.4, with 40 percent of 120 reviewers giving it one star. At that stage, the Heritage blog The Daily Signal reported that opponents had been working social media outlets to orchestrate a campaign of negative reviews, often attacking Anderson personally:

As of Sunday, only one of the 49 one-star reviews was a “verified purchase” reviews, which gives potential customers authenticity that the reviewer has purchased the material. By contrast, 35 of the 76 5-star reviews are from verified purchasers. Several of the 1-star reviews insist the “debate is over” and that Anderson’s claims are “a deadly defense of a dying worldview.”

(Anderson is, amongst other things, the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation.)

MercatorNet readers will find a familiar persona starring in the following messages captured by Daily Signal from Twitter …


… and here from the JoeMyGod blog:



Interesting to note that The Flying Monkeys “can put up over 1000 votes on any poll Joe points us to, easily.” Which is more or less what one thought was happening anyway. More stuff from Str8Grandmother (and some rather unpleasant company) here.

Of course, people can criticise a book by Ryan Anderson – if they have read it, as it seems from the “verified purchase” data all but one of the critics (and arounf half of favourable reviewers) had not. It’s Anderson they don’t like, and his effectiveness, so nothing he writes, no matter how reasonable or well researched or well argued – that is, no matter how good a book is as a piece of writing on its own terms – can evoke anything other than scorn from this crowd.

However, there are reasonable people who disagree with Anderson but respect his intelligence and integrity. As Daily Signal notes:

Anderson was surprised Amazon approved the reviews too. But he said these activists on the Left aren’t representative: “The one-star reviewers do not represent ordinary liberals,” Anderson said. “Ordinary Americans on the left are honorable and open-minded,” he noted. Consider “San Francisco Amazon Fangirl.” That reviewer gave the book five stars even though “I totally disagree with Ryan Anderson on this crucial issue of individual rights and equality.”

Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, also believes same-sex marriage is a constitutional right but found issue with the reviews for Anderson’s book. “I disagree with Ryan’s perspective—and have publicly debated him several times—but he’s always thoughtful and courteous, unlike most of those who agree with me on same-sex marriage who have decided to ‘review’ Ryan’s book here,” Shapiro wrote last week.

Contrary to what the likes of JoeMyGod, Str8Grandmother and their trolls say, the debate about marriage is not over. And the debate on religious freedom is beginning in earnest. As the blurb on Amazon says:

Attacks on religious liberty–predicated on the bogus equation of opposition to same-sex marriage with racism–have already begun, and modest efforts in Indiana and other states to protect believers’ rights have met with hysterics from media and corporate elites. Anderson tells the stories of innocent citizens who have been coerced and penalized by the government and offers a strategy to protect the natural right of religious liberty.

Anderson, profiled by The Washington Post in April as “a fresh voice on same-sex marriage”, is without doubt the most competent and compelling public voice on the subject. His book is not only about what has happened in the United States; it includes a comprehensive roadmap on how to rebuild a culture of marriage, with work to be done by everyone. A must-read, indeed.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet