Amazon has apparently conducted an about-face over its sales of a book that allegedly promotes pedophilia after a national outcry over its policy. ABC News reports now that the book, while still listed at Amazon, no longer can be purchased through the website after its controversial position was widely criticized by its customers. ABC earlier offered this televised report on the issue:
After defending sales of a self-published book on pedophilia, online retail giant Amazon last night reversed course and pulled the book from its Kindle store.
The electronic book, “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct,” by Philip R. Greaves II, went on sale on Oct. 28 and cost $4.79 to download.
“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,” the author wrote in the product description. “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,” Greaves said in the product description.
The book quickly sparked a massive protest online, with thousands of Twitter users and Amazon customers calling for Amazon to remove the book, and some threatening to boycott the company altogether until it did.
Amazon defended their decision to sell the book, which saw sales skyrocket briefly during the controversy, on 1st Amendment grounds. The online giant claimed that refusing to sell “certain titles” amounted to censorship. They insisted that their position was intended to support the personal choices of their customers.
However, as many critics immediately pointed out, Amazon doesn’t sell everything that gets published. They refuse to sell pornography except of the words-only literary kind, in either printed material or on video, “mainstream” or any other kind. That put Amazon in the remarkable position of banning printed material involving consenting adults while defending the sale of a book that purports to teach adults how to sexually exploit children. Amazon seems to have belatedly realized just how untenable that position was, both intellectually and commercially.
Besides, a refusal to sell a title does not amount to “censorship” or offend the 1st Amendment in any way. No one has a right to publication or distribution, which would involve hijacking someone else’s property to effect as a right. As Amazon so obviously proves with its anti-porn policy, sellers have the freedom to select titles with which they want to associate themselves. Only when government exercises prior restraint to stop speech, publication, or distribution does the 1st Amendment become relevant. And the protest over the policy and sale of the book is a much more apt demonstration free speech and its power than Amazon’s lame defense of the indefensible.