Should Amazon refuse to sell certain titles of books because some customers find the content offensive? According to Milli Hill of Somerset, United Kingdom, a parenting columnist for Somerset Life Magazine and blogger for The Mule, the answer is a resounding yes.
Hill is the creator of an online petition entitled “Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO: Refuse to carry books which advocate the physical abuse of children.” The petition urges Amazon (both.com and.co.uk) to stop allowing books that purportedly advocate, endorse, and advise parenting techniques that involve the physical abuse of children as a disciplinary technique. Examples of some titles targeted by the petition include To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl, Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp, and Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman.
Part of Hill’s argument for having the books removed from sale on Amazon is that such content is “offensive,” which is contrary to Amazon’s Content Guidelines. Furthermore, the petition argues that books that advocate the physical, and possibly abusive, discipline of children could be considered breaking the law:
It may well also be illegal, as it seems to go far beyond the ‘reasonable chastisement’ currently sanctioned by law in the UK, (where this petition originated) and in many US States. Not only is beating on a regular basis with a rod likely to leave a mark, which is illegal in the UK, it is also likely to amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, which is a breach of human rights.
Hill is asking for 15,000 signatures on the petition. Many leading experts in children’s rights, psychology, child development, and religious child maltreatment have already signed the petition.
To garner more support for the petition, The Mule is running a Facebook Action Day campaign today on Friday, January 27, 2012. Amazon has yet to respond to the petition. The Facebook campaign aims to get more signatures for the petition and to increase the pressure on Amazon to take notice.
But should Amazon take notice? Is Hill’s petition beneficial and necessary, an attempt to protect children from abusive disciplinary techniques? Or does the petition amount to censorship, banning the sale of certain books that one group of people considers offensive?