Amazon and the Pedophile

Would you boycott a book called Marijuana-Lover’s Guide to Growing Cannabis, perhaps published by High Times magazine? I probably wouldn’t. The moral issue is a bit ambiguous (to me, anyway) and the legal issue depends on where you are and what your purpose for growing cannabis is.

How about How to Build a Better Bomb: The Dummy’s Guide to IEDs? Well, this one would certainly give me pause. Outside of law enforcement, the military, and perhaps academia (i.e., science & engineering), one might have a hard time explaining to the FBI (or your significant other, for that matter) why one would want such a manual. But, reasons of research (e.g., for a book or article) or mere intellectual curiosity could suffice. I don’t think it would be illegal and certainly not boycotting material.

What about The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct? Does that one set off a few inner alarms? I certainly hope so. What is more alarming is that it is an actual, self-published book that went on sale (for the Kindle) through Amazon not long ago.

"Protect Our Children" posterPhilip R. Greaves II, the author, claims that pedophiles are misunderstood, and he just wants to help them abide by the law. [Here’s a free hint, you creep: Stop abusing children!!!] In the product description, Greaves said the book was an attempt to…

“make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certain rules for these adults to follow.

I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter (sic) sentences should they ever be caught.”

Isn’t that just swell? I’m… speechless.

When the general public got wind of this, a flood of opposition formed quickly. Facebook groups and huge numbers of Twitterers, as well as hundreds of comments from visitors to the digital book’s sales page, demanded that Amazon remove it from sale, often threatening to boycott the store (at least through the holiday season). Amazon was initially defiant, saying that while it does not promote hatred or criminal acts,

“[I]t is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable.”

Hogwash!

Amazon can and does “censor”, in that it reserves the right to ban “offensive” materials. What is “offensive” to Amazon? According to the site, “[P]robably what you would expect.” That gives them an awful lot of wiggle room. I, for one, would have expected them to ban anything promoting pedophilia, right from the start.

Fortunately, Amazon sensed the writing on the virtual wall, not to mention the bad press and the potential lost fortune over the next couple months, and it has now pulled the offensive publication from its virtual shelves.

And let’s be clear. This is NOT a matter of censorship or free speech. The book in question promotes an ILLEGAL activity and seeks to help those who do it to do it with less problems. Is it legal to write & publish such a thing? I don’t know. If so, Greaves can always sell it elsewhere, even if he has to spend some money to get it printed.

Consumers are & were free to choose whether to patronize a store than would sell such a book. Bravo to those who decided to make some noise, vote with their wallets, and stand up for the defenseless!

And Amazon made a free choice to pull it… eventually. Good for them.

These were all choices made without coercion from the courts, and no one’s legal rights were trampled. (If it does end up in court, I just hope some ultra-liberal judge doesn’t do anything stupid. They usually do.)

As Caryn Rivadeneira wrote over at the Her.meneutics blog,

“This issue isn’t about censorship (as my friend and Amazon initially claimed) — Greaves can blog and speak about this all he wants. The issue is about a consumer community telling a company that we will not stand by while they profit off child abuse. This is about consumers using their own free speech and the free market to demand more, higher standards from the stores at which they shop.”

Well said, Caryn.

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