Julio Gonzalez said Amazon censored his coronavirus book
TALLAHASSEE, FLA.10/25/17-Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, speaks during the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meeting Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Former lawmaker wanted to publish policy-focused e-book on COVID-19.

Former Rep. Julio Gonzalez said Amazon censored a book he wrote on response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entitled “Coronalessons,” the Venice Republican said he devoted much of his energy in the past two months to producing a well-researched e-book.

“I finished the book officially yesterday and sent it out to be published,” Gonzalez said. “But I got a message back that they were not going to publish it and that regarding the virus, everything is going to be referred to official sources.”

That’s a frustrating response for the orthopedic surgeon and former state lawmaker. The book didn’t focus primarily on the science of the novel coronavirus but on the policy and economic consequences of decisions made by leaders to contain the spread of the disease. Gonzalez, who has published multiple books on health care policy still available on Amazon, felt he qualified as a reliable source on those matters, even if publishers may disagree with particular points of view.

He has also been affected both as a doctor and author by the pandemic. His most recent book, “The Case For Free Market Healthcare,” published in January but any speaking engagements and promotions were canceled amid lockdowns around the country.

At the same time, a ban on elective surgeries tremendously impacted his Venice practice, where business slowed by 70%. His wife’s OB/GYN office was hit even harder.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued his order on surgeries on March 20, and Gonzalez turned his attention to writing a new book. He chose to publish electronically to more quickly inform policy debate about further lockdowns and to get on the market at the height of interest.

“I thought this would be the first comprehensive look at this experience,” he said.

But at the same time, Amazon was taking action to remove dubious titles related to the science of pandemics from its inventory amid complaints hoaxers were profiteering. The retail giant was flooded with hastily written e-books on the coronavirus in March, and Wired reports the outlet pulled a number of newly published works to stop the spread of disinformation.

Those works were often plagiarized or wrongly posing as medical tomes. Gonzalez doesn’t see his book in the same category. But the Amazon guidelines used to justify pulling those works were linked in an email rejecting Gonzalez’s submission.

Gonzalez said his work is more akin to another censored book by Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter. Berenson’s “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1” was initially rejected by Amazon but released after high-profile advocates like Tesla founder Elon Musk and The Intercept founder Glenn Greenwald criticized the decision, Fox News reports.

As for the contents in Gonzalez’s book, he knows there will be disagreement about his opinions. He questions the constitutionality of governments arresting those not wearing masks. He heavily criticizes the World Health Organization for its interactions with China.

“Americans went from being the most employed population in the nation’s history, and probably the world, to one riddled with uncertainty and angst,” he wrote early in the book. “The very fabrics of our society, our customs, natural courtesies, and the institutions we value were subjected to a massive assault, leaving many to ask whether it was better for us to abandon any or all of them.”

On the elective surgery front, he withholds heavy criticism of DeSantis based on the information the Governor had at the time. But he said the consequence of regular emergency room visits going down shows part of the problem closures.

“People were just having heart attacks at home,” he said.

In the book, he also carefully looks at state and national responses to isolating nursing home populations and to closing down travel. That Italy continued allowing travel with China after it became clear person-to-person transmission was possible was a mistake, he writes. He also tackles what he sees as attacks on religious freedom that happened in various U.S. states.

The tome isn’t an extremist screed. He doesn’t embrace the Swedish low-intervention model heralded by some on the far right.

“Whether Sweden’s approach was worthwhile is up for debate. Like in other countries, more than half of Sweden’s deaths occurred in nursing homes, and despite its efforts at not shutting down its economy, Sweden’s unemployment rate still rose dramatically,” Gonzalez writes.

He does explore whether high surveillance actions like those taken in South Korea were more successful than the lockdown strategy employed in much of the U.S.

And he praises tight borders, which have helped countries like New Zealand and Australia contain the pandemic, granted the island nations have the best natural borders in the world.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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