Online retailer Amazon has sparked a bit of debate surrounding whether objectionable content available for sale on their site is a decency issue or a censorship one.
The concern is due to a book most people would find indefensible- The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct penned by Philip R. Greaves II. The book’s description, nevermind the content, is enough to make most people ill and angry:
“This is my 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 sentences should they ever be caught,” the author says in the product description.
Free speech hugger? Even the boldest of anti-censorship folk would probably have a hard time taking up a sign and protesting against the banning of that book. But Amazon has reportedly taken the less popular road with the decidedly unpopular bit of Kindle content, according to ABC:
“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,” the company said.
When it comes down to rights, no one really wants to stand up for the kiddy diddlers, who are among the most reviled of humanity even among hardened criminals. However, if Amazon truly backs free speech on its site, banning this particular horrible work could lead to less amenable acts of censorship in the future. In doing a cursory search, the book did not show up among Amazon’s listings, so they could have very well caved to the Twitter pressure and yanked the work from their store.
This definitely raises an interesting conundrum. As a parent of two relatively little kids, I hate to think of a book like this being “available for download in less than a minute.” But as an avid writer and reader, does censoring even the worst of content ever lead to a good place? I’m an avid fan of zombie lit- what if those show up next on the non-grata list for gore and violence? Will banning one e-book lead to future banninations on less objectionable works?