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Petition To Remove “Offensive” Books From Amazon, Protecting The Children Or Blatant Censorship?

Banning Books On Amazon

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?

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Comments

32 Responses to “Petition To Remove “Offensive” Books From Amazon, Protecting The Children Or Blatant Censorship?”

  1. Chris Hewitt

    Not having read the books in question, I am not really qualified to offer an opinion (though I wonder whether that stops some people). I'm not really sure that knee-jerk, piecemeal censorship is ever a good thing though. The one thing it will surely result in is increased efforts to ban more books.

  2. Lorrie Thomas Maloney

    Every copy of "To Train Up A Child" should be burned–the couple that wrote it are religious nutcases, and have no problem with physical punishment–I have no idea about the other two mentioned.

  3. Janice Prescott Griffith Hightower

    If you don't agree with it don't buy it!!!!? The ones complaining probably have the kids who do not mind at all. The ones who have kids who scream at a restaurant while others are trying to eat!??? Oh yea but those are the ones who's kids never do wrong!!!

  4. Aletta Welensky

    Direct quote from No greater joy:

    ***For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used very lightly as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command. One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands. A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket.
    Later, a plumber's supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00. A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday. It should be a cheerful, directing training, not a correction training. If a 10-month-old plays in the dirt in the flowerpot, a simple swat to the hand accompanied with the command “No,” said in a cheerful but authoritative voice, should be sufficient.
    When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” ***.

    Do you still think Amazon should sell it?

  5. Jim Klug

    …and if this is okay, then what about someone else who decides to censor the Harry Potter books because they "promote witchcraft" and are "offensive" to that person's religious doctrine? Slippery slope and all that…once you start, where does it end? Don't like it? Don't buy it or do it, but you don't have the right to make someone else with completely different views live by yours! Frankly, the arrogance of the assumption that YOUR beliefs and values trump contradictory beliefs and values is as astounding as it is dictatorial.

  6. Susan Watts

    guess it could be censorship but no one is breaking people's arms to buy these books so what's the big deal. I think you should be able to buy and read whatever you want. this is still America. if you don't like them don't buy them. just like if you don't like what's on tv, turn the channel or turn it off. same thing.

  7. Mark McMullen

    To Aletta Welensky, if that is offensive to you, fine. Don't read it. Tell your friends how you feel. But saying it shouldn't be sold is censorship.

  8. Jim Klug

    Prov.13 [24] He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

    Prov.23 [13] Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. [14] Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

    Prov.29:15] The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

    Sir.30 [1] He that loveth his son causeth him oft to feel the rod, that he may have joy of him in the end.

    I haven't even touched the sections on murder, rape and religious execution for what are widely accepted as ridiculously minor "offenses" today. Still think they should sell the Bible?

    I'm personally opposed to the attitudes and beliefs expressed in both illustrations – and feel that they are from equally preposterous collections of ideas that we would all be better off without. On the other hand, censorship creates more evils than it cures. Always has, always will.

  9. Cyndi Ramos

    If these are certain peoples' beliefs, well, there are agencies to take care of that. They are going to do what they are going to do whether there are books that tell them it's right or not. But censoring? Totally wrong in my opinion!

  10. Malorye Layman

    No one is asking for the book to be banned. She is simply asking for Amazon to uphold their content guidelines. If Amazon refuses to sell something THEY find offensive, is it censorship, or is it their right as a company to sell items that they wish to sell? It's AMAZON saying they don't want to sell offensive products, it's this woman telling Amazon that she finds these books offensive. I guess I just don't see how that is censorship on her part, but not on Amazon's for having it their policy…

  11. Starrlynn Trent

    Everything offends someone! If u don't like it don't buy it! Of course its illegal to beat your children, but the ones who are that kind of parent doesn't need to read about how to do it! Drugs are illegal 2 so should we stop watching movies that have drugs in them? Or movies where the main actor is doing something illegal? That's 90% of the new movies out there. We know it illegal and most of us don't rush out to do it just because it was in a movie! Get real….people start getting away with saying they are offended and companys have to stop selling that product there wont be any stores left!

  12. Judi Palumbo

    Anybody who is hitting a six-month old infant deserves to have that child removed from their home for the child's own safety. Any company that would knowingly sell a book that advocates the physical abuse of an infant should be boycotted. People are free to write the book, people are free to buy the book, and companies are free NOT to sell the book – just as they would NOT sell books advocating child sexual abuse.

  13. Judi Palumbo

    A lot of people here seem to have missed that point, Malorye. I've seen quotes from some of these books and they do advocate physical punishment of infants – something that should never be tolerated.

  14. War Against Child Abuse (W.A.C.A)

    It is not only offensive – it is dangerous! T he deaths of three children have been linked to one of these books. Here is CNN report on this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrjX55KF3ZQ.
    more than 600,000 copies are sold… in our society child abuse is dirty little secret. Bu statistics are staggering!

    Our children deserve better. They need your voice!

    Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rise up, people!

    Here is NY times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/07/us/deaths-put-focus-on-pastors-advocacy-of-spanking.html?pagewanted=all.

    Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws, with the exception of obscenity, defamation, incitement to crime, and fighting words,[1] as well as harassment, privileged communications, trade secrets, classified material, copyright, patents, military conduct, commercial speech such as advertising, and time, place and manner restrictions.

  15. James Johnson

    Aletta Welensky If Amazon stops selling the book it's still "banning it" from Amazon, but yes obviously it's not a direct ban for all sellers all over the world. So the petition really is asking for a ban via Amazon. Also publishers these days tend to listen to Amazon as a trend setter which sets a dangerous bar for future banned books that could come down the pipeline. With that being said I think from what people have posted about passages from the books that parents need to avoid them.

  16. Inesa Jenza

    Chris, here is some quotes from To Train up a Child: They talk about spanking toddlers:

    "If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, wait a moment, lecture again, and again spank him until it’s obvious he’s totally broken."

    "Switch him 8-10 times on his bare legs or bottom. While waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If his crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If his crying is still defiant, protesting, and other than a response to pain, spank him again. If this is the first time he’s come up against someone tougher than he is, it may take awhile…if you stop before he is voluntarily submissive, you have confirmed to him the value and effectiveness of a screaming protest!"

    "If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally…A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child has surrendered."

    On p.60 they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”
    But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.
    On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
    A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
    On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.
    After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.
    On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.
    This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

    Need I add more?

  17. Inesa Jenza

    here is some quotes from To Train up a Child: They talk about spanking toddlers:

    "If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, wait a moment, lecture again, and again spank him until it’s obvious he’s totally broken."

    "Switch him 8-10 times on his bare legs or bottom. While waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If his crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If his crying is still defiant, protesting, and other than a response to pain, spank him again. If this is the first time he’s come up against someone tougher than he is, it may take awhile…if you stop before he is voluntarily submissive, you have confirmed to him the value and effectiveness of a screaming protest!"

    "If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally…A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child has surrendered."

    On p.60 they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”
    But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.
    On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
    A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
    On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.
    After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.
    On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.
    This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

    Need I add more?

  18. Inesa Jenza

    here is some quotes from To Train up a Child: They talk about spanking toddlers:

    "If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, wait a moment, lecture again, and again spank him until it’s obvious he’s totally broken."

    "Switch him 8-10 times on his bare legs or bottom. While waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If his crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If his crying is still defiant, protesting, and other than a response to pain, spank him again. If this is the first time he’s come up against someone tougher than he is, it may take awhile…if you stop before he is voluntarily submissive, you have confirmed to him the value and effectiveness of a screaming protest!"

    "If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally…A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child has surrendered."

    On p.60 they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”
    But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.
    On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
    A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
    On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.
    After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.
    On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.
    This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

    Need I add more?

  19. Inesa Jenza

    T he deaths of three children have been linked to one of these books.. It is not about cookies! On p.60 they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”
    But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.
    On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
    A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
    On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.
    After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.
    On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.
    This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

    Need I add more?

  20. Inesa Jenza

    Yes, may be they should make a movie from this book. You will just turn the damn TV!
    On p.60 they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”
    But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.
    On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
    A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
    On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.
    After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.
    On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.
    This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

    Need I add more?

  21. Milli Hill

    Hi – I'm Milli Hill, the originator of the petition being discussed here.
    Thank you very much for covering this issue and for all the comments.
    I have attempted to address the issue of censorship here:
    http://mamamule.blogspot.com/2012/01/shouldnt-we-all-be-free-to-buy-whatever.html
    Please do have a read.
    My view is that it is more important to protect children from serious maltreatment and abuse than to protect the freedom of an adult to sell any book they like on Amazon.
    Should the petition be successful the books in question will still be published but a large corporation such as Amazon refusing to stock them will send a clear message that this treatment of children is not considered acceptable by society at large.
    Amazon DO draw lines, there are many books that they DO refuse to stock on the grounds of their content. About a year ago they had to withdraw a 'how to' manual for pedophiles.
    I don't think a 'how to' manual for physically and emotionally hurting and abusing small children and babies should be treated any differently.
    Please support the rights of children to be protected from violence (rights enjoyed by EVERY adult, in the UK and and USA!) and sign the petition:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/jeff-bezos-amazon-ceo-refuse-to-carry-books-which-advocate-the-physical-abuse-of-children
    Thank you
    Milli

  22. Alec Duncan

    To the people who are saying that censorship is always wrong: do you really believe that? In that case I'm sure you think that Amazon should also be selling books that encourage people to rape two year old toddlers. Or urge people to poison a city's drinking water supply. Or encourage people to assassinate the President. You don't think those books should be available? But that's censorship! Yep – it is – and not one of those books would be legal to buy in the United States.The right to free speech is an important right, but even in the United States that freedom is not unlimited: the Supreme Court has ruled that such books are illegal because they are "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action" (See the Wikipedia article "United States free speech exceptions"). This book is simply a how-to for committing crimes against children. Any parent who follows the advice of this book is committing criminal child abuse – no ifs, no buts. 3 children have died already. Tens – nay, hundreds – of thousands of others have experienced appalling levels of physical abuse, abuse that is criminal in any civilised country, as a direct result of parents following this book's "parenting advice". Do I want it to be censored – absolutely! This is not about art or literature, this is not about not wanting a book published because you disagree with its political views, this is not about freedom of religion. This is about protecting innocent children from crimes against them. As such I have no problems at all with calling for it to be banned.

  23. Amber Bante

    If Amazon doesn't allow the sale of books encouraging pedophilia and child pornography they should take these books down since they promote child abuse as well.

  24. Amber Bante

    Cook books don't encourage harmful acts towards minors though. This is what this petition is all about because these books encourage parents to abuse children.

  25. Emily Strength

    Government censorship is wrong. However, a private business can choose to carry or not carry anything they want. A smart business carries the things it's customers demand and does not carry the things it's customers find objectionable. I hope that the demands of those of us to find these books to be dangerous and reprehensible will outweigh the demands of the few who want Amazon to carry these books. If you are opposed to this petition simply on the basis of being an advocate for free speech, I urge you to find out exactly what these books entail. I am also an advocate of free speech and I would NEVER support government censorship or banning of books- even as awful as these are. By pressuring businesses to stop carrying them, we can decrease their sales and bring light to the controversy surrounding them, which might encourage new parents to think twice before using their advice.

  26. Adam Randon

    This is not a call to ban a book or stop the Pearls from speakng or expressing themselves and their insanely misguided belief system. They have a website, you could buy the book directly from them I assume and contribute to the distribution of a child abuse manual if you like. This is a call to have Amazon – a third party distributor – remove it from stock. The right to freedom of speech and expression does not automatically confer the right to have whatever crazy ideas one has to be published, stocked and sold for profit on a large retailers website. If it did I'd be a very rich man – maybe as rich as the Pearls.

    You should also know that even in the most liberal societies there exist certain laws which (for the apparent benefit of wider society, passed and enacted by the elected representatives of wider society) curtail certain speech. Whether that is a bad or a good thing is an academic debate – the fact is such laws exist. In the UK it is illegal to unreasonably chastise a child. In Scotland it is illegal to use an implement to hit a child. It is also illegal to incite criminal activity. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume this book breaks UK/Scottish law and by selling it Amazon is complicit. This book is not a work of literary fiction or an historical record – it is not Lolita or American Psycho. It is an instructive manual which incites child abuse.