Twiterati are up in arms over Amazon’s decision to sell the esteemed author, pedophile, flaneur, and most likely NAMBLA-endorsed dilettante at large, Phillip R. Greaves II’s, new tome “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure.”
Despite claims of poor corporate judgment and even worse authorial taste, microbloggers and reviewers alike have used the book’s stomach churning subject matter to begin debating the very nature of America’s First Amendment rights, and whether if indeed Amazon are justified in bringing this recent treasure trove out.
The summary on the book’s Amazon page, which looks as if it were written by a child, or a blogger on a tight deadline, says the following:
“This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certain [sic] 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.”
While that alone certainly signals dangerous information, isn’t it just as dangerous to begin censoring expression, no matter what the content or the form? Or, put another away: isn’t it better to give the public a chance to voice its displeasure, to allow them to respond while simultaneously raising awareness of the problem, rather than to outright usurp their chance for expression?
After all, by censoring the author of the book wouldn’t Amazon have been censoring everyone?
The retailer said as much today when it defended its decision in a statement to AOL’s Tech Crunch, asserting: “Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”
One Amazon reviewer, Richard Williams, argued exactly the opposite, writing, “It is completely unconscionable and irresponsible of Amazon to have this for sale on their site!! I understand that Amazon does not condone censorship, but this is taking the First Amendment to places it was never meant to go.”
Are we to believe Mr William’s opinion or take comfort that at the end of the day no matter how displeasing a particular person’s morality or aesthetics are they have every right to have them. Have them even if it puts children at harm’s way or as in this case, those who have put children in harms way in the past?
As tempting as it may be to curtail conversation (or resist publication) because the topic matter isn’t the preferred topic banter of most households aren’t we only exacerbating the problem if we choose to ignore its existence? Something surely the Catholic Church and their internal handling of rampant pedophile charges have too often shown.
As Dale Austin, chief operating officer of the American Humane Association – who also argued against Amazon’s decision – admitted, “In some respects, it can catch fire and alert society about the problem of this kind of publication being out there.” Maybe this is just what we needed to get the dialogue going again, to create the conversations that will finally allow our culture to better defend its children against those who would do harm to them. Of course, with censorship, such things would never happen.