It's not always about being funny.

About pedophilia and censorship

Pedophilia to us humans is a bit like Kryptonite is to Superman. Have you ever seen any incarnation of Superman where someone approaches him with Kryptonite? He stumbles, usually closes his eyes, sticks his hand out and just flails wildly, trying to crush it or cover it or knock it away.

When you mention the words “pedophile” or “pedophilia” to anyone, their initial response is to immediately swat it away with disgust. You’ll hear that those people should be castrated or murdered. That it’s despicable. That it’s the worst crime possible.

You won’t get any argument from me. Pedophilia is utterly despicable (although not any more despicable than rape, in my opinion – the age of the victim should have no effect on the heinous nature of the crime). It’s a base crime that preys on the innocent, and it’s the nature of this crime that makes people react like idiots whenever pedophilia is mentioned.

Here’s why I’m talking about pedophilia:

CecilyK is a blogger with enough of a voice in the blogosphere that yesterday, when she tweeted about a despicable book that has in its Kindle store – The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure – several thousand people had the chance to witness her outrage. The description for this book states “This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [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.”

After her tweet, the floodgates erupted. Hundreds of people condemned Amazon for allowing the existence of this book on its virtual shelves.  To summarize the tweets:  “This book should be censored immediately and while we’re at it, the author should be castrated or, even better, put to death. The content was prima facie illegal and how dare Amazon permit it.”  I tried to discuss the actual issue: wanting a company to censor an item that may or may not be permitted under the First Amendment, but having any serious type of conversation 140 characters at a time is damn near impossible. I gave up when Cecily said:

People, these are the issues where one must be reasonable. If you’re going to wield your influence like a big, ugly club, it’s irresponsible to do so when you are admittedly irrational about the issue. Inciting a mob based on assumption, a feeling of complete ickiness, and unreasonable thoughts only means that the reactions and actions that result have a high likelihood of being blatantly and completely inappropriate.

I’m not attacking Cecily for getting upset, even if she does have a perpetual chip on her shoulder. It’s understandable to think that a book that advocates any type of sexual activity with a child would be upsetting. You’d have to be a monster NOT to be upset about it. However, I think it’s wrong to demand that Amazon remove it for being illegal or expect that Amazon has a moral obligation to pull the item.

I haven’t read this book. All I know about it is the title, the cover, and the description. It is objectively impossible to make a statement that the book is illegal based on those elements. In order for a author to cross the line so deliberately as to lose his or her right to freedom of expression, the content would have to do more than simply condone an illegal act. For example, Barack Obama’s memoir condones his drug use, which was an illegal act. For this book to be considered speech that is not protected by the first amendment, it must be reasonably apparent that the book itself will incite someone to violence or that the book presents a clear and present danger, or that the book is obscene, which means that in the community writ large, it is pornographic and has no redeeming social value.  And without reading it, you cannot make that statement (update: someone bought it and read it, and while it sounds like it discusses illegal activities, it also sounds like it’s discussing legal acts as well and may not be illegal.).

If I, a man who is not a pedophile, was going to write a book to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles who find themselves involved in said situations, I might write content that said the following:

“Don’t touch children. Appreciate their smiles from afar. If you actually love them, do not touch them or approach them in any way so that they can retain the innocence that you love.”

Is that content illegal? It’s still creepy as all fuck, yeah, but is it illegal? The answer, in case you’re still being irrational, is no, and until you can determine explicitly that the content is illegal, you cannot assume that it is.

Other people might argue that Amazon has a moral obligation to remove this book. Bullshit.  Amazon has a moral obligation not to remove any book unless it violates the law. There was a huge outcry and call for a boycott two years ago when scores of books were removed, allegedly over a pricing error. Since that point, Amazon’s policies have been refined and revised. Now that it’s a book that you want removed, should they change their policies to become pro-censorship? Absolutely not.

No company should ever use moral obligation as an excuse for censorship.  It is too easy to expand the moral obligations until everything is being censored for different reasons.  Imagine a fictional murder mystery story where the antagonist rapes and murders a woman. The amount of detail in this hypothetical story is so explicit that it could act as a how-to guide for any potential murderers and rapists. Should this book be removed too? What about a book by a religious sect that explains the proper way to stone a person?  Or one that discusses the way to woo and marry a child in a country where child marriage is legal?  When does the “moral obligation” stop?

Amazon has standards for books they won’t carry – pornography, for example.  If something shows explicit sexual acts, it is not allowed.  That’s not a moral stance as much as it is a legal one – given the community standards in some locations, pornography might be illegal there, and Amazon would have to be aware of which communities would consider which properties to be illegal.  A standard that states that any books that discusses pedophilia would not be allowed would mean that classic literature like Lolita and books like the Bible would be removed as well.  Using a legal standard instead of a moral one is the only way for Amazon to walk  a very fine line.

Our society is founded on the concept of freedom. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression. As deplorable as it may be, those freedoms must be present for all citizens and all types of speech, with the limited exceptions that already exist. And unless a type of speech is not protected by the First Amendment, corporations have a moral obligation to protect that speech, not censor it.

In conclusion, for those of you with short attention spans: Pedophilia is deplorable. Thoughts aren’t illegal. Words are only illegal in very specific circumstances. Companies shouldn’t censor products that are legal.  And try to understand a situation before reacting irrationally to it.

Share the love:
Follow by Email

287 Replies to “About pedophilia and censorship”

  1. ClumberKim

    I’ve been wrestling with this all day and still don’t know where I land, but I do agree with those who said Amazon is being hypocritical. They won’t censor words like this book but they will delete comments that are negative. Words are words.

  2. fidget

    If amazon wants my money, they should be more decerning about what they carry. End.of.story. They have no obligation as a business to permit the sale of just any old thing, they have the ability to pick and choose what is available for purchase from their store.

    I purchase A LOT from amazon- food, diapers, camera equipment, toys, books, etc. and I am not down with the idea of them providing a platform for a pedifile to earn an income based on his illegal and horrifying activities.

    Does this ‘book’ have a right to be published? Sure, but I don’t have to support a store that’s going to sell it .

    Additionally from what Im reading, they removed a video game from their site that was based around raping women but they are totally cool with carrying books directed at people who are looking to rape children?

  3. Poppy

    I’m not reading this post, although I’m sure I agree and disagree with some of your points.

    I’m just severely disappointed that one day it’s NOT OK TO BULLY ANYONE OMG and then the next day it’s totally fine too because it’s for a purpose.

    And anyone who dares to think I’m for pedophilia: Yah, you’re fucking wrong.

    I’m also not for hypocrisy so I’m trying my hardest to ignore this topic. My silence means: I don’t agree with this process.

  4. Lona


    Is the idea of an Improving Pleasure for Perverts book enough to make me want to vomit? Of course. As a parent and as a human being, it makes me sick. It freaks me out to no end that someone felt motivated to write such a book, and it doubly freaks me out that there are people who have probably thought, “Hmm, I wonder if there is a self-help book out there for me, or people like me, who like to abuse children? How helpful that would be. Perhaps Amazon will have something along those lines.”

    But if it’s not illegal, then there’s not that much one can do about it, and honestly? Freaking the fuck out over it is going to accomplish nothing. You just have to resolve yourself that the people who would actually buy this book will find a special place in hell, probably like two or three circles down from people who buy Nicholas Sparks books. Or somewhere like that.

  5. Thien-Kim

    I’ve only been semi-following this all day. My take is this. If Amazon censors this book, who’s to say they don’t start censoring others: Playboy magazine, erotica, etc? Where would it end? Yes, if people are unhappy with Amazon, they can vote with their dollars.

    Thanks for a rational post on this!

  6. Capricorn Cringe

    I missed this debate and I’m glad I did. I like rational discussion, not senseless screaming righteousness.

    I agree that the subject matter is icky. But I also agree that if it’s not illegal, the person has a right to publish it, no matter how distasteful I find it. I am not obligated to buy or read any book – including this one. One of the coolest things about this country is the choices we have. I think we take that freedom for granted. A lot.

    • Avitable

      @Capricorn Cringe, I think voting with your wallet is a good tactic. I also think that people are doing it for irrational reasons, because they think that Amazon allows illegal material, all without having the capacity to understand that the content is probably not illegal.

  7. martymankins

    Bravo. This is a well-stated position. I happen to agree 100%. Where does the line stop? How far will this go, as you so well wrote, before everything is censored?

    I deplore pedophiles and encourage various distance and reporting laws that keep them away from minors. I do not support a collective community of people that have never read the book (even though I read the updated report above from a person that has) to ask a private business to ban the book.

    If anything, more damage has been done by bringing this book up into the mainstream media conversation – bad press is good press. Look how many more people know about this that didn’t before. Not that everyone is going to run out and buy this book, but the pure outrage over this, IMO, should have never happened.

    If Amazon follows the irrational crowd, I suspect it will open the floodgates to other books and products people want them to stop carrying. Maybe not all at once, but the abuse of the “power to the people” process can have a great affect.

  8. Brandie

    Someone posted excerpts from the book – it most certainly did contain content that would be completely illegal. Now, could those excerpts have been faked? I suppose. Frankly, I won’t buy it just to double check. I can’t even go there. It was hard enough to read the excerpts and I wish I hadn’t. Made me ill.

    Also, Amazon isn’t the government. It’s a private business. It already has decided not to sell certain content. It says it won’t sell things that are a) pornographic b)offensive and c) illegal. (you can check here!default.jspa?categoryID=27&externalID=122 & per the excerpts I can safely say the book violates all three). Anyway, as I was saying – this guy can say whatever the hell sick stuff he wants, but Amazon doesn’t have to sell it. That is not limiting his free speech, it is simply preventing him from profiting from it. Amazon not selling something is not censorship. It is a company making (or in this case not making) a decision based on most of it’s costumer’s requests.

    • Avitable

      @Brandie, actually, it most certainly contained content that is NOT illegal. I read those excerpts. They’re not pornographic, they’re offensive on a subjective level, and merely talking about an illegal act is NOT illegal in and of itself.

      • Brandie

        @Avitable, Yes, you are right. Writing about illegal acts is not in itself illegal. I was wrong on that point.
        I do stand by all else I said. Which basically comes down to the fact that I don’t think Amazon should carry it. As they’ve removed it though, this book is a non-issue now.

    • Christine

      @Brandie, I totally agree…you’ve made exactly my point. The concept that if Amazon didn’t carry this book it’d tantamount to limiting his free speech.

      Should adult book stores have to carry Christian books touting abstinence? Should children’s book stores be forced to carry books on advanced horticulture?

      Point being private businesses have the right to establish parameters regarding which items they select to carry…Amazon has the right to carry this obnoxious piece of crap, and they’d be totally within their rights to NOT carry it (as they don’t carry a bazillion other titles…it’s not like they stock all works ever written. And I use the term “works” lightly in this case).

      So Amazon can bite me, and I won’t be doing my holiday shopping there.

      • Christine

        @Christine, Oh hi, me. You forgot to finish that first sentence. If you weren’t so lazy you’d have proofread your comment prior to hitting send and wouldn’t be writing this right now.

        “this book it’d tantamount to limiting his free speech.” finish with something like, “is silly.” Or maybe something with more syllables and less judgementy.

  9. Adrienne

    There really is no good argument to support “boycotting” ALL of Amazon because of a single author’s words.

    I tweeted my opinion earlier, that this whole debacle is of the same kine as the “ground zero mosque”, perhaps morally or ethically it is not a great idea to carry such a book in your store, but legally it is perfectly fine.

    Yes, I totally agree it is a horrific idea for a book, but so is Twilight. And to be quite honest with you, if my grand daughter brings another god damn Fancy Nancy book into this house I may hurt someone, but I won’t boycott Barnes and Noble for selling it.

  10. Thursday's Child

    I couldn’t have said it better.

    I hate pedophilia and everything about it, but I cannot with good conscience say that any literature that supports or condones the practice should be censored. That said, I do not have to like it.

    I think that’s where people begin to lose focus. Because they don’t like it, and it happens to be about an illegal act, it should therefore be unpublishable, unsaleable. Fortunately, such emotions–no matter how strong–do not a law make. Clamoring for censorship is far too dangerous a game. If effective, it can begin a descent into tyranny far more swift than most could imagine. (Tyranny here does not necessarily mean governmental. Ideological, moral, etc are all at play here.)

    With such a sensitive issue, it can be difficult to separate the emotional leanings from the logical, and as you say, that’s exactly what has to happen in order to really foster any discussion about the issue. It’s not that I don’t understand where those arguments come from. At my most primal levels, I admit I have to agree with them, but the repercussions are vast, and a larger perspective must be considered.

    That said, I think that Amazon may still (certainly could still) pull the book from their store, and it not be censorship pure and simple. Perhaps the book begins hurting sales in some significant way. People vote with their dollars, and if they don’t like the book, and don’t like that the store carries it, they may shop elsewhere. And that’s just fine. So Amazon pulls a product that generated bad press. It’s their prerogative as a merchant to carry whatever products they like. I just hope that it isn’t pulled because it’s considered, as you put it, prima facie illegal.

    Sorry for such a long reply.

  11. Jess

    I’m on both sides of the fence here – I get both of the arguments and neither of them makes me particularly happy in this situation.

    Censhorship of any kind sucks – Pedophile’s suck worse. I don’t necessarily agree with you that crimes against children are the same as crimes against adults – adults are bigger and own a larger mental acuity . But that’s not really the point here.

    If this book were to be on the shelf of my local family owned bookstore – I would question them about it. I may choose not to spend my money there any longer if they really tried to defend it – but it would be their right to have it there if they so chose.

    So I really wish that it wasn’t there – but I’m not confident that I can argue against their right for it to be there. I just wish they were more conscientious of the content from which they are making money.

      • Kizz

        @Avitable, The fact that the Twitter hoopla actually made the guy money (and an interview somewhere indicated that’s exactly what he was hoping for) is the part that gives me pause. And a little rage of my own. Tests showed it was a virtually unfindable little piece of stupidity that few, if any, people had spent money on. Until the aforementioned hoopla.

  12. Miss

    Even if the book is removed from amazon, that doesn’t mean it ceases to exist. I’m sure access to pedophilia is easily obtained in MANY areas of the internet. Does that mean amazon has to be included on that list? Not necessarily but you’re right. We can’t say “this” is ok but “thats” not ok when it fits to what our particular morals may be. You can’t have your cake etc etc in this case. Removing the book won’t make the horribleness of pedophilia go away and it certainly won’t make it harder for an actual pedophile to find information like what is published. Boycotting Amazon (or at least shouting from the rooftops that you’re going to *cough*target*cough*) isn’t going to make anything any better.

    Still kinda curious what kind of search brought someone to this book in the first place. I wouldn’t want to think someone was out there LOOKING for this type of content but honestly, what the hell would that person’s google search history reveal?

      • Miss

        @Adrienne, except for the people, like the one Adam linked to above, that bought the book just to find out what was in it. The thing could have been pictures of puppies for all we know.

        Aww puppies.

        But yes, I see where you’re coming from here, totally.

          • Miss

            @Lisa, well clearly. What I meant was, you wouldn’t be able to make a list based on purchasers due to the fact that some people actually BOUGHT the book before choosing to be outraged over it. Which, I suppose, is logical in a crazy sort of way.

            But like any good week day twitter mob, all it took was a few tweets from a well known blogger. Is the book awful? WELL DUH. But to demand it be removed? A pointless request in the grand scheme of things, in my opinion. That solves absolutely NOTHING when it comes to the evilness of pedophilia.

          • Lisa

            @Miss, I know. I was being sarcastic. 🙂

            Do you have kids? Because I do. And I’d like it removed. I’ve had a cousin molested when he was 5. I’d prefer that the molesters not be given a guide from Amazon of how to get away with it.

            As with my rights (and said big bloggers rights), we can ask for whatever we want too, because the only thing that Amazon is going to listen to is $.

            And said book has been pulled (for now). Obviously, enough people cancelled their accounts to make a difference.

            Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a cure for pedophilia so nothing will remove the evilness of it.

          • Miss

            @Lisa, Yes, I have a 9 year old son. I don’t see how that has anything to do with what this post is about.

            The book is wrong. No doubt. It shouldn’t exist. But it does. Being sold on Amazon does not increase the chances of any child being molested and anyone who thinks that is fooling themselves and using Amazon as a scapegoat. Unless the pervert is picked up by the cops with a copy of the book in their back pocket with a “SOLD BY AMAZON” sticker on the cover of it, you just can’t point the finger at a company who is selling the book.

            Now if Amazon put it in its “Today’s Deals” list, then we can be outraged AT AMAZON.

          • Red Lotus Mama

            @Lisa, Miss does have a great kid and she is a great mom (and auntie to my daughter)!

            It doesn’t take a book on Amazon to get a pedophile to act. It is not Amazon people should be boycotting … it is the editor and publisher. Amazon may take the book down, but now it will be simply sold somewhere else. Are all of you going to hunt down where it is now? Are you going to boycott them as well. Instead of tweeting and boycotting use your energy to go to the root of the issue. Fight the good fight, not the one fueled by hate.

  13. Lunasea

    My problem isn’t that this guy wrote the book – I understand that in itself isn’t illegal. My issue with it is that this is not a morally grey area, and no one’s free speech is being infringed upon by a publisher turning down a manuscript for any reason. Society has an obligation to protect children. If he was publishing an historical defense of pedophilia,I could support that because it would be a very different thing than publishing a how-not-to-get-caught manual.

  14. Trish Smith

    I confess – one of my pet peeves is the confusion of “rights” with “privileges” that seems to be all-too-common. A company deciding not to carry a specific book because it violates some pre-determined set of rules isn’t “censorship”. To claim that, if Amazon doesn’t carry/publish this author’s work, it would amount to censorship because my goodness, wherever would he publish/sell his work if they did that? Is fairly incorrect. Amazon (although quite the monolith in the publishing world) is not, in fact, the only game in town. Sure, if he sold his book elsewhere , he wouldn’t get the exposure he would get if Amazon carried it, but the last time I checked, that wasn’t a legally-protected right. No one is stoping him from doing that; in fact, no one is stopping him from standing on a corner and handing the thing out to passersby.

    Amazon not carrying this item is no more censorship than is a department store deciding not to carry a t-shirt that says “Meth rocks!” Guaranteed access to the market is not, as far as I recall, anywhere in the Bill of Rights.

    This author has no God-given (or Constitutionally-given) right to have his book carried by Amazon; there are other routes if they decide not to carry it.

    I recommend checking out Backpacking Dad’s post on this at; he gives a well-supported argument for why it wouldn’t be censorship for Amazon to pull this book, and why all their arguments for keeping it “on the shelves” are patently ridiculous.

    • Avitable

      @Trish Smith, if I deleted your comment, would I be censoring you? Yes. Of course you’d have other avenues to voice your opinion, but in this environment right there, your words would be stifled.

      Amazon is the largest retailer of reading material in the world and it is my opinion that they (and any company like a book store) have the responsibility and moral obligation to protect the rights of free speech as much as our government.

      Shawn has a specious argument, which is his standard, and it all hinges on his concept of “censorship”, which is wrong.

    • martymankins

      @Trish Smith, While you make a valid point that this is not a government form of censorship, it is censoring in a form. True, it’s a private business and they can or won’t do anything they don’t have to. But even with that said, it’s a trend that could lead to all sorts of “I don’t like that, so stop selling it” I don’t see Amazon modifying their policies for each and every incident like this that comes up.

  15. Amanda

    I definitely agree that Amazon needs to set up clear guidelines as to what they will and will not sell.

    There are a lot of things a lot of people don’t agree with, it doesn’t mean a corporation has to bend their policies at will.

    You know what I’m not a fan of? Rape. And racial slurs. So we just probably just go ahead and ban To Kill A Mockingbird while we’re at it.

  16. Moon HalloranLeady

    Well, Adam, I hesitantly would say I have to agree with you on all points ~ as disgusting as pedophilia is, and as the mother of two offspring who are now teenagers ~ my boy being newly 18 and my girl just 15 ~ I walk a careful tightrope here ~ but I agree.

    But free speech is free speech and thankfully, our Constitution guards that ~ we don’t have to like what is said and published but it IS a slippery slope when the word “banning” begins to be bandied about.

    My ex used to work at Borders….and he is a HUGE proponent of free speech. They used to have to keep certain books behind the counter and you had to ask for them and this disagreed with all of his senses, no matter how much he may have disagreed with the contents of those books…and I tended to agree with him.

    Yes, pedos are bad but censoring is bad too. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it, buy it, or view it ~ and while I would find a book such as the one you speak of horrendous on all points……..I cringing-ly would defend the right of it to be published under the right of free speech in this country ~

  17. Red Lotus Mama

    First, I didn’t (nor will I) read this book … for very obvious reasons.

    Our country is founded on freedom … and freedom of speech happens to be one of these. There are so many topics written that I do not support, find despicable, physically make me want to vomit, and clearly tiptoe the fine line of provoking an illegal act. But, these authors have a right to write what they have the freedom to say. Did this disgusting human being write something that may illicit an illegal act … I have no idea, but apparently someone thought it didn’t because they edited the book and published it. So, why not boycott that editor and/or publisher as well? And, if you are going to boycott Amazon you probably should go visit every brick and mortar bookstore, online bookstore and library to see if they are also carrying the book.

    Second, I didn’t (nor will I) join the torch and pitchfork party on Twitter to boycott Amazon.

    Do people really think that there aren’t pedophiles on Twitter? Those raising a huge stink publicly online just handed these monsters an early holiday gift. Or, now this piece of literary garbage has just gotten enough attention that has peaked the interest of someone who is not a pedophile, but just might buy it just to see what it is all about. Let me congratulate the lynch mob on increasing traffic and ROI for this author and his publisher.

    This brings us right back to the freedom of speech … Twitter has provided us the ability to voice our opinion which in turn will allow debate. If I recall correctly a lynch mob is illegal, so should Twitter boycott anyone that encourages this behavior?

    Ok, that is my $.02 on this topic and I really don’t want to spend any more of my money on it.

    P.S. Adam, thank you for writing this post and freely expressing your opinion!

  18. Julie {Angry Julie Monday}

    Here I go, agreeing with Adam, yet again.

    I’ve been following this shit storm all day, while in between stuff at work. I rolled my eyes a few times. I’m not a huge fan of the word “boycotting”. I think it is a pretty dumb word. If this was not blasted all over the net today, would anyone even know about this book? Probably not.

    I was a Sociology Minor in college, and I learned many little tidbits about fetishes, pedophiles, and other people with um different sexual “tastes”…there are more websites and groups devoted to all of this than you will ever know about. Yet, I don’t see anyone tweeting or talking about this? I’m not going to name them for fear of the Big “Google” Lords bringing nastiness to Adams’s site, but they are out there.

    These pedophiles are not going to learn their craft from a book, seriously. I think the writer of this book is an asshat, and probably every person who even buys something like that will be probably be on some kind of watch list.

    I just think that sometimes people need to focus more on the things going on around them, as in REAL LIFE than a book on the Internet. Your child is more like to be abused by a known person such as a family member, babysitter, or friend than the random pedophile. I would rather be ignorant to what Amazon is currently carrying than stuff that happens in reality. I work in a very icky business sometimes, in law enforcement and have dealt with sex registrants etc. for years. You would be amazed at how the average sex offender just looks like you and me, not the creepy old guy wearing glasses.

    Enough of my rambling, just tired of Twitter shit storms…

    • Avitable

      @Julie {Angry Julie Monday}, at one point or another, I think I’ve probably talked about every fetish and group out there. You should see my search analytics!

      I’m tired of Twitter shit storms, too. Arguing with irrational mommybloggers 140 characters at a time is too frustrating.

    • Finn

      @Julie {Angry Julie Monday}, Thank you. Now I don’t have to tire my fingers typing a version of this.

      I’m the wife of an LEO and have been for a very long time. Most people are scared of the nameless, faceless boogeyman – I’m more concerned the people I deal with on a daily basis.

      But I guess it’s much easier to rail against the ugly that’s at arm’s length than to deal with the ugly that’s right next to you.

  19. yoshi

    You know I read all the comments here and I agree with some and disagree with the rest. That being said, I’m just gonna have to say pedophilia : bad. writing a book on how to get away with it : bad. amazon selling the book : who cares. I’ll never buy it so who cares. I don’t know how many other books amazon carries that I’ll never buy because I don’t search for it. illegal or not.

    Why are we still talking about this?

  20. Backpacking Dad

    You’re wrong about what an attack on actual free speech looks like. You use a broad notion of censorship and apply the characteristics of a narrow notion to it, and that’s equivocation. Which is a fallacy. The 1st Amendment guards against censorship in a narrow sense (the government suppressing speech in most cases), not against censorship in a broad sense (refusing to forward my grandmother’s cat video e-mails). Amazon refusing to publish this book would be censorship in a broad sense but not even close to censorship in a narrow sense. Twitter exploding and demanding that the government shut down Amazon for publishing it WOULD be advocating censorship in the narrow sense. Expressing a consumer preference to not shop at a store that sells things you don’t like? Censorship in a (very) broad sense. Although you can get away with throwing “censorship” around in the discussion because in a very literal way it’s true, it’s a fallacy to invoke that version and the 1st Amendment (or any principle behind the 1st Amendment) at the same time. That’s not what we’re interested in guarding against.

    Also, I’ve said on Twitter several times today and I’ll repeat it again: Slippery slope arguments (like “where do we draw the line?”) are INVALID unless they demonstrate not only that there is a slope (a continuum from A to B to C) but that the slope is actually slippery (that there’s something inevitable about transition from A to C).

    All of that is not to say that Amazon is in any way qualified to make the decisions about what OUGHT to be published. But they are claiming they don’t even have the RIGHT to make the decision, and that’s just bullshit. They have every right, and won’t end up infringing actual freedom of speech in any way.

    • Avitable

      @Backpacking Dad, no, you’re wrong. When the Amazon boycotters are screaming about it being illegal and how dare they carry a book that is illegal, you have to talk about the First Amendment to identify whether or not the material is legal in the first place. If the government has the right to censor the material, it’s a non-issue. Get rid of the book completely.

      However, once you determine that the government will not be censoring the material, the next question is whether the largest retailer of reading material in the world should censor it. Censorship doesn’t have to come from a government entity. Like I said to Trish above, if I deleted your comment, I would be stifling your words in this environment and censoring you. Yes, you could bring your words elsewhere, but it’s still censorship.

      Amazon is large enough and has enough of a reach that their choice to remove a book is censorship – it has a chilling effect on that person’s words being heard. And if that person has the First Amendment right to express himself, how does Amazon make that moral decision?

      This is a completely valid slippery slope argument. If Amazon decides to start operating under a moral imperative to remove books that people find “icky”, even if they’re not illegal or pornographic, what’s to stop other groups that are even louder than frenzied mommybloggers from pushing Amazon to remove books that THEY don’t agree with? It is a slippery slope.

      The thing is, we both agree that Amazon probably shouldn’t be making the decision of what should be published. I just agree with them and think that they have a moral obligation to protect our First Amendment vigorously.

      • Backpacking Dad


        I’ve never said anything about what Amazon has done being illegal. Who has? No, actually, it doesn’t even matter if people have.

        Even if everyone on the Internet said it was illegal they’d be wrong AND Amazon still wouldn’t be defending free speech (unless the government started listening to the people crying “illegal” incorrectly) AND you’d still be equivocating on “censorship” and arguing for an interpretation of it that isn’t actually or theoretically enshrined in the Constitution. You should have ended your post after a discussion about whether or not the contents of the book were protected by the 1st Amendment instead of sticking your foot in it with a discussion about what Amazon was doing. The issues are distinct, and just because the book is protected doesn’t mean a publisher refusing it would be an infringement.

        No, the problem is that Amazon CLAIMS to be defending something that isn’t threatened by a boycott. Boycott isn’t censorship. Not that some of those who threaten boycott don’t also think the book is illegal in the first place. But unless they muster a prosecutor out of bed there’s no infringement here.

        It’s not about the book. At least not for me. It’s about Amazon’s interpretation of free speech. And yours too, since you seem to think any comment deletion is an infringement. I’ve told you why that’s equivocation and invalid and I’m not sure if you just disagree that I’m right about what counts as equivocation, or you don’t think equivocation is a problem. In either event you’re wrong. Saying that it’s censorship in some meaningful way over and over again doesn’t make you right. You haven’t shown anybody that you’re not equivocating. That’s what makes the majority of your post, and your reply here, wrong.

        As for slippery slopes, saying “If Amazon decides to start operating under a moral imperative, what’s to stop….” you’ve built the slipperiness into the slope instead of looking at the slope that’s really there. Amazon can remove the title (or refuse to publish it) without taking a moral stand that implicates other decisions. They can also act arbitrarily, according to what they think will sell. That’s what publishers do all the time. There’s no moral component to that decision. There’s a moral component to the outrage, but that doesn’t mean it gets enshrined in a filtering principle. There is no principled slipperiness here. Although, as I said in my post, there is a slipperiness-from-incompetence that we should worry about. And you’re right that we both agree Amazon probably shouldn’t be in charge of making decisions like this.

        But in your world publishing houses have to publish every manuscript they get. That’s just a straight reductio ad absurdum against your interpretation of what censorship is.

        • Avitable

          @Backpacking Dad, the book’s already published. Amazon has almost infinite space to list books. That’s not the same as choosing not to select a publication in the first place.

          Also, my entire argument surrounds my opinion that a bookstore of this size has a moral obligation not to censor anything. Since we disagree on that concept, we’re never going to agree on the conclusions that I’m drawing from that opinion.

          • Backpacking Dad


            What is the moral obligation BASED ON? A principle of free speech you think exists somewhere, but which in fact, if we accepted it, we wouldn’t be able to tell grandma we’re not forwarding her e-mails. There is no principle of free speech that we accept as a society, that anyone accepts without reductio, that supports the moral obligation you think Amazon has. Unless you think Amazon controls the market and the publishing industry with the same practical effect that a government restriction would (which would mean that an Amazon refusal amounts to an inability to even distribute pamphlets on the corner) you have NO CASE for that moral obligation. And I have no idea how you can claim Amazon has anything like that kind of market control. They may sell more books than anyone, but their selling of the books doesn’t prevent anyone from saying or writing or sharing whatever they want to.

            This isn’t just us disagreeing about what principle to use. If it was something like me saying “Well, there’s a right thing to do based on human nature” and you said “Well there’s a right thing to do based on the greatest good” that would be a principled impasse. That’s not what’s going on here. This is about you having a terrible principle in mind, and one that isn’t enshrined anywhere, that is over-broad and in the end creates ridiculous situations. You can’t defend it without just saying “I’m right” over and over again. You’ve provided no reasons to think you’re right about the principle at all.

            That’s pretty much all the new stuff I have to add here. If you have nothing new I won’t keep going. If you have something new, some argument that I haven’t already discussed, then I’m happy to come back.

    • Avitable

      @Backpacking Dad, Also – I just realized I didn’t use the slippery slope argument anywhere in my post! I used it on Twitter because of character limitations, but I tried to approach it in a non-legal sense in my post.

  21. Nicci

    I do not believe in censorship. I think that says it all.

    My question is, how did she find the book? Looking up stuff to get pissy about? Did a friend send her the link? If so, shouldn’t she be more worried about how they found the book?


  22. Coal Miner's Granddaughter

    This is what I got from all of this:
    How many pedophiles have now purchased this book because of the 24 hours of publicity it has now received?


    Leave shit like this buried where it belongs. It shouldn’t be pulled from Amazon’s virtual shelves (because, like you, if they censor this, they can begin to censor any damn book they please), but now attention has been brought to the forefront.

    • Coal Miner's Granddaughter

      @Coal Miner’s Granddaughter, Oh, and, a pedophile having access to this book as opposed to not having access I don’t think, in any way, would change said sick person’s actions. They are going to do what they are going to do. Which means it’s not up to us to blow up about some book. It’s about us physically protecting our children as much as possible as we can from said people.

  23. Loukia

    I hate how some people online today are rolling their eyes and wondering why we’re still yelling about this. Like, oh well, yesterday’s news… Sad that we’re not able to carry on discussions about issues we’re passionate about.

    • Avitable

      @Loukia, yeah, but the passion will die down soon enough, I’m sure, and then everything will go back to normal. These things never last, because the rabble rouser who starts it doesn’t have the attention span for it.

      • PsychMamma


        I always wonder if all the people who scream boycott really do it. And for how long? Until it becomes inconvenient for them? I know several who shouted “boycott Target!” but have since tweeted about shopping there.

        And why stop at just this book? Someone at Twitter pointed out (with links) there are other books written by pedophiles or about pedophilia being sold at Amazon. If people are so passionate about this topic, why stop at this book? Aren’t they concerned there are others? And who, then, decides what qualifies under that topic? Your point that the Bible talks about fathers “laying down with” their daughters, fathers killing children, etc., is excellent, and surely it would be on the list of consideration for banning.

        I’m thinking somebody better get busy reading every. single. thing. Amazon sells if they’re truly boycotting on this principle.

      • PsychMamma


        P.S. I’m not in ANY way ADVOCATING a witch hunt through the Amazon virtual shelves. Ugh. Simply trying to raise the question: Where does it end? Which seems to imply a slippery slope (by my definition) that BackpackingDad says doesn’t exist here.

  24. Jenni Williams

    In this case Amazon IS the publisher, it is not a matter of censorship when a publisher determines that a books is not fit to be published. And yes, Amazon refuses to sell porn. They allow some soft core magazines, but that is all. So clearly they do have some sense of social/moral obligation. In this case they are choosing to back the wrong horse. The book is pure crap from a writing stand point. I have heard from someone who read it and a few credible news services that the writing is bad enough and the timing of the release of the “books” looks to be the works of a fake, perhaps to trap people searching for this type of material.
    As I said on twitter, Adam I think not having kids allows you to be more accepting of this. As a parent of child who ended up trapped alone on a Disney ride with a man who took odd interest in him just this weekend, I can’t support a company that publishes that garbage.
    That said I am not going out and rallying against them in a rage, I am just giving my holiday money to other companies, now to choose between evil big business (Walmart) or anti-gay (Target). Sigh

    • Avitable

      @Jenni Williams, the “you don’t have kids so you don’t understand” argument doesn’t work here. I agree with you that pedophilia is despicable. End of argument. Now, maybe the fact that people have children is making them more irrational and less likely to look at this from the big picture, that might be true. In the end, though, this book isn’t porn, it’s not illegal, so, as deplorable as it is, it’s got a right to be there.

  25. Becca

    I think the point here is not whether or not one has children, like that makes one less likely to ‘understand’ the heinousness of pedophilia. As one who works in a prison with a sex offender population, I can say, whether you agree or not, they have been judged and sentenced for their crimes. It is no more wrong to suggest that Amazon should censor their items, than it is for people to suggest that all pedophiles should be put to death.

    If you don’t agree with your state laws then work to change them. If Amazon were to begin censoring one book, where would it stop? Would it stop with them censoring Lolita? I believe I’ve seen a copy of that book there. It is considered literature, and whether one agrees or not, a company has the right to decide what they will and will not sell. Censorship is like the road to hell, it is paved with good intentions. I am sure that people will continue to scream about censorship, but some of them also want them to censor the Kuran.

    If you don’t want a company to have your money because they will not follow your guidelines of morality then don’t buy from that company. It’s that simple. And stating that the author of this book (while he might be disgusting) deserves to be castrated and killed is the worst form of bullying. “I don’t agree with your lifestyle, therefore you deserve to be dead”, see the problem here??

    To conclude, Adam, Bravo! I applaud your courage for standing up for your principles!

    • Barnmaven

      “And stating that the author of this book (while he might be disgusting) deserves to be castrated and killed is the worst form of bullying. “I don’t agree with your lifestyle, therefore you deserve to be dead”, see the problem here??”

      Pedophilia is NOT a lifestyle. It is a crime. If the author of the book has, indeed, sexually abused a child, he has committed a crime, NOT made a “lifestyle choice.” BIG difference.

      Were some man to sexually abuse my children, I don’t think I would see the things I would want to do to him as “bullying.” I would consider them to be less than adequate redress.

      • Becca

        @Sheila, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I have learned to pick my battles. I don’t like sex offenders either, but they have been judged and sentenced and I am there to do a job. It would be irresponsible of me to think about it more than that. And I’m sure you are not evil!! 🙂

      • Becca

        @Sheila, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I have learned to pick my battles. I don’t like sex offenders either, but they have been judged and sentenced and I am there to do a job. It would be irresponsible of me to think about it more than that. And I’m sure you are not evil!! 🙂

        • Sheila

          @Becca, I’m totally evil – with a capital “E”. Just ask Adam, LOL. I would never be strong enough to do the job you do….I’d be fired and placed under investigation after one too many “accidents”.

  26. Elizabeth @ Table for Five

    I discussed this with several people yesterday, two bloggers plus my husband. Both of the bloggers had that instant visceral reaction of “it’s wrong, Amazon should be ashamed of themselves.” My husband, on the other hand, listened to the story and then said “well, Amazon sells The Anarchist Cookbook, which teaches people how to make bombs, which they very well might use to blow people up.” Good point.

    Pedophilia is despicable. So is making a homemade bomb and blowing up an outdoor cafe. Some people think Penthouse magazine is despicable, some people think Bella making out with a dead guy in “Twilight” is. People for whom this is truly a deal-breaker can stop making purchases on Amazon, vote with their dollars.

  27. Grant

    I don’t know if you remember, but a book and its author made the news during one of the previous Catholic pedophile scandals. It was being published by the University of Minnesota and the author, a woman, asserted that children should be having fulfilling sex lives with each other and adults beginning at age seven. It had been turned down for publication six or seven times prior, but the UoM said their policy was not to censor books based on their opinion of the material, just to ensure they met a minimum standard for backing their points of view (in her case, she had the required minimum number of experts who agreed with her). They forgot to mention the corollary to their rule “unless the press finds out and it looks bad for us.” So that book was canceled and the closest you’ll get to your pedophile fantasies is to read the Kindle book while fapping to the doctored photo of Emma Watson you posted some time ago.

    Yeah, you’re fooling nobody with your fake disgust. Next time don’t oversell it.

  28. Barnmaven

    My ex works in an Amazon call center. You can imagine what his day was like yesterday, people calling in and blaming HIM personally for this book being available on the Kindle. All of the call center people were treated like absolute crap and probably will be until this shitstorm dies down.

    I’m sure the executives will review the book in question and determine whether they want to keep selling it or pull it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they continue to carry it, but that will depend entirely on whether they want to make a statement about the principles of censorship. If they do pull it, they’re simply bowing to the weight of the almighty dollar and the power of the consumer in a capitalist society. The “right” thing to do, for many, is whatever sells the most stuff.

    • Avitable

      @Barnmaven, I hope that they don’t pull it, though, because what happens next time some angry mob decides they don’t like something. I think the best route is to wait it out. In three days, nobody will be mentioning Amazon at all, except when they make their wishlists.

      • Barnmaven

        @Avitable, I just don’t know, Adam. I am so torn on this issue. I’ve posted about it, so I won’t repeat it all here, but its one of those times where my convictions and my morals collide. There’s a backstory, of course, which makes it hard for me to be objective. And as a person who prides herself on being logical and an ardent defender of freedom and democracy, I’m upset as hell that I can’t seem to find the way to discard my emotional reactions and go with logic.

  29. Grumble Girl

    I don’t see how deciding not to sell this book is censorship. It’s just bad for business. And of course the subject matter is disgusting – everyone agrees that it is (even many pedophiles know their behaviour is deplorable) so though information is everywhere, and a person can source any kind of information one wants (illegal, unpopular or otherwise) I don’t see the merit in Amazon helping it along in any way.

    What makes something “bad” gets fine-tuned along the way. There was a time when slavery was still considered the norm, and legal! But some people behaved differently over time because it felt wrong, you know? That’s where the social/moral obligation comes into play. Never mind what’s legal – sometimes there’s just plain wrong, and we need to make socially acceptable decisions. It’s a civilised society, isn’t it? Why would anyone WANT the right to sell THIS book? To be happy to stand behind the law that says “sell whatever you want.” They have the right… but MUST they? They absolutely do not have to. And they shouldn’t.

    They’ll see what happens to their bottom line and decide from there, I suppose.

    • Avitable

      @Grumble Girl, the problem is that it’s always about good intentions. The moral line is always very clear to the person who wants to censor or remove something.

      The reason that you want the right to sell that book is because if that guy is protected and able to speak his words, it means the rest of us have that same protection.

      • Grumble Girl

        @Avitable, The guy is going to speak his words. I understand that I don’t have to listen or see him… sure. I think acting in a socially conscious way, regardless of what is legal, is the onus of (in this case) Amazon. I still don;t see how it’s censorship choosing not to sell it. I know they’re in the business of selling books – all books and any books – I’m saying in some cases, they could take a pass, and it’s not putting asunder every bound copy of anything that says “pedophile” or “nigger” or “anal rape” or anything of the sort. Civilisation is born of being less black and white about things that most would deem “wrong.” Most people don’t walk around saying “nigger” because it’s gross behaviour that is socially unacceptable – even if you’re within your rights to actually “say” it. It’s wrong. It’s gross. It’s not what people do. It’s a new time in history. Act right, Amazon.

        • Avitable

          @Grumble Girl, it’s not putting asunder every book that uses racist words or mentions rape, no, but it sets a precedent that could very easily backslide into additional censorship. It’s gross and it’s wrong, but he’s still free to say it and maybe they have a moral obligation to let him say it.

          • Grumble Girl

            @Avitable, Why would they be obliged as the seller? Maybe he’s free to say what he wants and not be persecuted/incarcerated for saying it (I get that part) but he needn’t have the support of others – and that does not equate censorship to me.

            He can stand on a street corner and spew his bullshit, and the police need to protect him from the certain beating he’s about to get – yes. They don’t need to offer to photocopy his pamphlets, or help him hand out his bullshit. He has a right not to be attacked (kinda) but he doesn’t need any other help.

            I don’t see the immediate worry of backsliding… especially since I still can’t see this as censorship.

  30. muskrat

    Yeah, but if Amazon’s client base is upset and wants a product taken off its sales page, the product should be removed as a business decision. I don’t think selling this thing is illegal, but I do think it’s upsetting, and smart business people adjust their sales and marketing when their customers are upset about an offering. See, e.g., New Coke.

  31. lceel

    @The World At Large … If you don’t like the book, don’t buy it. Simple as that. If you don’t like that Amazon is carrying the book, it is certainly your right to say so. It is also your right to deny yourself access to all the other wonderful books that Amazon carries on their virtual bookshelves. It is also your right to cut off your nose to spite your face. It is, after all, your face. And your also have the right to stick your head up your ass as far as you possibly can – although you may find it a bit stuffy in the and probably somewhat lonely.

    Come on out, take a deep breath of fresh air, and remember why all those kids are over in Iraq and Afghanistan – many of them won’t agree with what you say, but they will defend to the death your right to say it.

  32. Jen

    I agree with 99% of what you said. You’re wicked smart Adam.

    I hate the argument that you (or anyone else not supporting the boycott) might feel differently if you were a parent. That has NOTHING to do with anything. You don’t have to have a child to be disgusted by pedophiles.

    What I do think though is that having a child might mean it’s easier to put a face on the potential victims of this crime. I mean, the idea of any child being hurt this way makes me ill. Imagine one of my own children as a victim and my response is multiplied by about a million. So yes, as a parent I may have a more visceral, knee-jerk reaction to the ideas contained in this book. That doesn’t mean that I have a better understanding of what’s right and wrong and if it should be published or not than a person who does not have children does.

  33. Jennifer

    I was curious to see if the website carried the book or not, so I did a search, and Glen Becks book came up. That made me laugh.

    I think its a really complex issue about where to draw the line with freedom of speech and expression. The book in question, well, its the individual that is responsible for his/her actions. The book isn’t responsible for someone becoming a pedo. The book didn’t lure a child. The book (according to the person who did read the book) is giving some instructions apparently which is even more horrifying. BUT if the individual ACTS on it, well, that is on the individual.

    Do we start banning physics and chemistry books (because de terrorists can lrn to makes de bombsies!), what about erotic fiction (can’t give the girlies at home a reason to become “loose women!”), what about books about herbs and plants (Oh no, the loose women will start poisoning their husbands so they can be loose women and make bombsies!!!). Where does the line get drawn? It’s a slippery slope. Hell, they’ve banned childrens classics like Little Red Riding hood & huck fin. When will the book burning start?

    And you totally sounded like a lawyer making his final statement. Just sayin. I know…. “well duh”.

  34. Red Lotus Mama

    Did you see this article:

    The executive director of Wired Safety even stated that all the buzz yesterday only INCREASED the sales of this book prior to it getting taken down. And, guess what … Amazon rose $3.06 to $173.33 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

    So, now I want to know … will the lynch mobbers who canceled their Amazon membership rejoin now that the ebook is taken down?

  35. hello haha narf

    i am against pedophilia and have zero desire to buy a book about it.
    i am against censorship in any and all ways.

    honestly, i am just amazed at the mob that was so easily created less than 140 characters at a time. i really to think nicci hit the nail on the head with her comment up there.

  36. Sheila

    I guess I still don’t understand what all the fuss is about – like, yeah, pedophiles are obviously numero uno on my list of people that should be hit in the fucking face with a brick and all but all I hear [most of the time] when the internet gets outraged is “BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH…DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!” a la “Nokia Hates Babies” “The BlogHer 2009 Crocs Scandal” and Douche’s, I mean, Dooce’s, “Maytag Mishap”….at least, I think it was Maytag.

    Anyway, my point is, stop thinking that just because 50,000 other SAHM’s read your blog every day and you have companies throwing free samples at you to review, you are some kind of force to be reckoned with.

    I am Mommy Blogger, hear me roar.

    And that’s why I can’t take any of their “campaigns” seriously.

    Personally, I think that instead of getting up in arms because some asshole wrote a book about how to not get into as much trouble should you be caught destroying a child’s innocence, I prefer to just be aware of who is living in my neighborhood, who my kids play with AND their families and I don’t send them to the park by themselves. Plus other stuff but those are the basics.

    I realize that you can’t protect your kids from every single thing in life but, ultimately, it is up to you, as a parent, to take the steps necessary to reduce their risk of abuse, abduction, etc. Basically, it’s your job to protect them from the creeps. It’s *not* Amazon’s job to make sure the creep doesn’t know the loop holes around being fully accountable in a court of law.

    Also, has anyone realized that basically (and from what I understand) this book is just a cliff’s notes book on the various laws and statutes that any overachieving pedophile can learn by simply reading their local state laws?

  37. Cecily

    While I might take offense about the perpetual chip on my shoulder and say “pot, meet kettle,” I do agree that this turned into a shit storm of epic proportions which I did not intend.

    I, just for the record, NEVER called for an Amazon boycott. Not once. Not ever.

    I was just wanting Amazon to uphold their own rules about books promoting illegal activity (apparently, according the news stories, the book did contain images of child porn, therefore meeting that description). I just asked the question.

    Am I unreasonable about this subject? Yes. But I’m not a pro-censorship person either. I will fight to the death for the right of this fucking perverted asshole to be able to publish his book. I just questioned the wisdom of a retailer carrying it.

    • Avitable

      @Cecily, I know you didn’t call for a boycott, but you created said shit storm with your words, irresponsibly. And no, the book did not contain images of actual pornography, or else it would have been removed immediately. The book was essentially a guide to pedophile laws and where they’re more relaxed and what the loopholes are – despicable, yes, but not illegal. Amazon stood by their standards, although it seems like they may have caved to the mob.

      What happens when an organization like the American Family Association or another uber-right wing organization decides that Amazon shouldn’t have the Qur’an because it “incites people to violence”? You understand that’s the same thing as the crusade you started, right?

      • Cecily

        @Avitable, I see much truth in what you are saying. As someone new to the rather useless twitter “fame” I’m still figuring this shit out.

        If the news stories I’d read were in error, I apologize, I’m not going to read the actual book.

        I still disagree with your basic argument. I don’t believe asking Amazon if carrying the book is smart = censorship. But then, I don’t think an art museum refusing to carry a piece of art is censorship. I worked for an art museum. The number of artworks submitted to be put in the museum was astronomical, and the number of pieces accepted a tiny percentage. Does that mean the museum is censoring? No. It means it’s acknowledging facts ranging from physical space to quality of the work to whether or not it meets the museums qualifications to be featured.

        • Krëg

          Your museum analogy if flawed. Museums have a limited amount of wall space. Amazon does not. Museums must make pragmatic decisions about how to use the space they have. Amazon has enough virtual room to publish already-colored coloring books or photos of nostril hair if they so choose. Further, Amazon doesn’t have to represent it’s offerings as “art”.

          As for figuring out your twitter fame shit, here’s some advice: If you aren’t aware that your actions have consequences (on Twitter and in the real world), perhaps you shouldn’t POINT AT SHIT AND SHRIEK IN OUTRAGE.

        • PsychMamma


          My brain just completely explodes when someone can say in the same statement that they refuse to read a book but question the “smartness” of a seller carrying it (essentially implying that the seller should NOT carry it). What, exactly, are you basing your question to the seller ON? The title? The cover?

  38. Krëg

    I think the only answer to this crisis is a good old fashioned Kindle burning. We can all pull up copies of literature we despise and then toss our Kindles into a bonfire. (insert Kindling pun here)

    Relatedly, do you think Amazon will publish my Barnyard-Sodomy How-To & Retrospective?

      • Krëg

        Hey, if the children at the copper-reclamation facilities in India can handle breathing toxic smoke all during their eighteen-hour, seven-day shifts while being whipped by taskmasters, I think you could hack it for a couple of hours.

        Toughen up!

    • Catootes

      @Krëg, the beauty, or horror, of the vanity press print on demand model is that most certainly Amazon will publisher your Barnyard-Sodomy How-To & Retrospective. Whether someone buys it, well that’s another thing altogether.

      Vanity Press POD processes make it easy for any nutfuck, as the pedophilia guy clearly is, to “publish” whatever the hell they want. Amazon’s CreateSpace allows any and all material to be made into an insta-book. The vetting process begins and ends with “did your credit card go through?”

  39. Charlie

    I think we’re waving the term censorship about rather freely when what we’re talking about is a retailer/distributor choice. No federal or state official or regulatory commission banned or attempted to prevent publication of the book. Similarly, no official or agency tried to stop Amazon from distributing the book. Cecily (my wife) simply questioned whether Amazon wants to be associated with such a book.

    Let’s take a simple retail example: if a retail grocer chooses not to stock a particular brand of pickles, is that retailer “censoring” that product? No. It’s just not available at that retailer. You’re welcome to go to the next grocer and see if it’s stocked there. Same in this situation. Amazon could have said, and in fact its policy statement
    DOES explicitly say, “ does not support hatred or criminal acts,” and could have refused to distribute the title on this basis. Doing so would not have been censorship.

    • Avitable

      @Charlie, if I delete your comment, am I censoring you on my blog? Yes. And the pickles argument is specious. Books are a form of speech and can be censored.

      If there was an artist who had a display made of pickles and a museum removed it, that would be censorship.

      The book actually discussed how to avoid doing criminal acts, so it falls clearly within the standards that Amazon has set.

  40. Dave2

    As long as it doesn’t involve children or unwilling animals, I’m okay with whatever sexual escapades people care to participate in so long as it’s consensual.

    Thusly, a book which promotes pedophilia even by the title alone is not something I would choose to sell in my store (if I were to have a store). Just as I would not sell a book titled “The Serial Rapist’s Guide to Love and Pleasure.” I don’t care what’s inside, I wouldn’t even bother reading it to find out. The title alone is enough. This is not censorship, as I am not preventing anybody from writing or expressing anything. This is me being personally and socially responsible the best way I know how by not promoting a “how to” manual on raping children with MY business. My personal beliefs are such that presenting sex with children as something that’s okay and acceptable is not freedom of speech, it’s creating an atmosphere which validates infringing on the liberties of innocent kids in one of the worst ways possible. Nothing could ever convince me that it’s NOT wrong, so forcing me to sell these book is against MY freedom of expression. Let some piece of shit pedophile open up their own book shop and sell this fucked-up crap. I’m not going to be the one distributing it. And as this is still The United States of America (for the time being), nobody should force me to do so.

    That Amazon came to the same conclusion as I would is nothing more than a business making a decision. It’s not censorship. And, just as I support Amazon for their decision, I have the option of NOT supporting them with my money when they make decisions I DON’T agree with. That’s my personal choice just as it’s their personal choice. But I guess labeling “making a business decision” as “censorship” is more exciting because it gets people all riled up (this kind of thing seems to be working great for the Tea Party!), but I’m not buying into the hype.

    Out of curiosity, if one of your readers posted a comment here with detailed instructions on successful methods for seducing young children into having sex and ways to keep them quiet about it… would you approve it?

  41. Charlie

    Censorship still applies to the state. A school board refusing to teach a text is far more likely to fall under the rubric of censorship than is a private art gallery refusing to show a particular artist’s work. My question is this: Does a book retailer/distributor have any discretionary power? Would they be obliged, for example, to carry a book titled, “Assassinating Supreme Court Justices for Fun and Profit”?

    • Avitable

      @Charlie, I think you’re misunderstanding the word censorship. It has varying definitions, one of which is government action, but another which includes what I would do if I deleted your comment. That IS censorship by the very definition.

  42. cagey

    I shared this on my reader for the last graf.

    I don’t necessarily agree with everything you’ve said, but I do respect your right to say it in YOUR space in complete sentences, rather than 140 character bursts. I also appreciate how you went about this logically and respectfully.

    I think for Amazon to rush and remove something from their shelves based on mass hysteria, rather than inspecting and evaluating the situation first, would be incredibly irresponsible of them.

    Also, did this ever illustrate why Twitter is such a shitty place to have ANY sort of real, thoughtful conversation. One of the many reasons why I’ve had to back away from The Tweetle in the past month.

    Finally, I *AM* a parent and I am calling bullshit on those who said your opinion is not valid because you have not procreated yet. As a parent, I always respect the opinions of the non-parents in my life and even ask them for advice. Many of of my non-parent friends are aunts/uncles, I appreciate getting their perspectives on what they see. Christ on toast! At a minimum, we have ALL been children ourselves at some point.

    • Avitable

      @cagey, what you said here: “for Amazon to rush and remove something from their shelves based on mass hysteria, rather than inspecting and evaluating the situation first, would be incredibly irresponsible of them” – I agree completely.

  43. Charlie

    PS – If you delete my comment, I don’t believe that qualifies as censorship. You’re under no constitutional requirement to let stand every damn thing someone might want to post. Unless your blog is funded by the state and I missed something.

  44. Superjules

    I just… can’t even get worked up about any of this. It just seemed like such a ridiculous thing to get mad about in the first place. “Amazon carries a book I don’t like!” You don’t say! They carry hundreds of thousands of books so WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!

  45. cat

    I think Amazon should continue selling the book, and hand over the list of people who bought the book to authorities, who can then monitor their online actions more closely and catch them in the act.

    Yeah, I know that what I’m suggesting sounds a little illegal (or unethical), too… but if ever there was a great way to figure out who a POTENTIAL pedophile is, it’s this…

  46. Faiqa

    The difference between mature political action and acting like a rebellious teenager is research and a deliberated plan of action. How many of those people crying for the boycott of Amazon waited for a response from Amazon before launching that campaign? How many of those people considered that there are OTHER vendors on Amazon that would be affected by this that had absolutely NO input into whether this book would be published? How many of these people took the time to contact establishments that advertise on Amazon and inform THEM that their ads were being placed next to a pedophile manual?

    FURTHERMORE. Where were all these people when copies of Mein Kampf or the Anarchists Cookbook (as someone mentioned above) were being sold?

    I have e-mailed/reported, etc. this book because I don’t like that it is being sold. I have a right to that as a consumer, and I don’t consider this to be a censorship issue with respect to the first amendment. In fact, I find that idea ridiculous. Vendors should choose to sell what they sell based on consumer demand… that’s a fundamental of a free economy, right?

    On a completely different note, I’m a little miffed at the comparison of a manual for pedophiles to the building of a ground zero mosque. In fact, I’m more than miffed, I’m offended.

    • Avitable

      @Faiqa, I don’t think you should be offended by the comparison, because they’re both actions that resulted in people offering knee-jerk reactions instead of thinking about the situation and using logic. These are two instances of people reacting emotionally and while uninformed.

  47. Issa

    I have my own issues….which you already read about.

    I’ll tell you quite honestly, that despite them? I agree with you. Do I think that a person should have written that book? Nope. But it’s his right as an American to do so. Do I think people who are buying the book are deplorable. Yes, yes I do. However, it really won’t stop me from believing that boycotting Amazon isn’t the way to go.

    Free speech is free speech. A lot of times people are wrong. They are still entitled to their opinions. Just as I am mine.

    I won’t be boycotting them. It won’t stop me from hoping that they take that book down though.

    • Avitable

      @Issa, they have taken the book down now, but there are many like it still on their virtual shelves. I fear that there will be the possibility of a witch-hunt now, going through books to find ones that are immoral or reprehensible that should be removed.

      • Issa

        @Avitable, Sigh. That is what I hear.

        In the end it comes down to, where are the lines? Who gets to decide them?

        I mean I won’t say that I disagree with the taking down of that book. I can’t say that. I’d be lying. I emailed and asked them too. But I do wonder where a witch hunt comes to an end.

  48. WebSavvyMom

    –>I hate that all of this attention to the book caused it to grow in sales by 101,000 percent (based on an news source I saw this morning). I have no issues with free speech but I think Amazon would have been wise to not carry a book on this topic. I suspect that those interested in the topic will find a way to get their hands on it.

  49. Mari

    First, I’d like to say you’re da bomb! Da Bomb I tell ya!
    I have a child (so take the youhaven’tprocreatedsoyouropiniondoesn’tcount bullshit and shove it) and would do pretty much anything to keep him safe. I know that doesn’t mean that I will always be able to, but I do my best. I can also speak from the pov of a person that was molested as a child. Does that make my opinion any more valid? Of course not.
    This whole shit storm seems like a double standard to me. It’s not ok for kids to bully others but if you’re an adult it is? Wake up people. Just because we don’t call it bullying when adults do it (it’s an ‘opinion’ or a right to ‘free speech’) doesn’t make it right. You will never see me posting in a public forum about how I would like people to die, be tortured, maimed, etc (except maybe this one!). THAT is bullying. Period. And we wonder where our kids learn their behavior? (although, quite honestly, I personally believe that pedophiles should spend the rest of their lives giving 24hr nursing care to the elderly in nursing homes – doesn’t that seem like more of a fitting punishment?)
    Then to jump up and down, loudly proclaiming that Amazon is in the wrong – it just seems a little ridiculous. I’m not advocating the publication of such material, nor the sale of it, nor do I believe that pedophiles should have mainstream outlets like Amazon. However, I do believe that unless this book can be proven illegal, the responsible thing to do would have been a succinct letter to Amazon pointing out the *PROBABLE* violation of their stated guidelines and asking them to review it. The rallying cry and subsequent mob mentality of the ‘Twits’ just doesn’t seem like a rational decision made by adults. Of course, mobs by definition aren’t rational, and everyone *knows* that two wrongs make a right. Right?

  50. Karen Sugarpants

    I think you were considerably unfair to CecilyK here (chip on her shoulder? why did you say that?). I think in these situations, emotions tend to run high, and rightfully so. Had it been me that had found that book, I likely would have done the exact same thing in her shoes. I also wouldn’t have expected the type of reaction she got, but there it is. We can’t turn back time.
    My basic thoughts, since I’m between classes and feel I’ve already said enough about the issue on Twitter:
    Children deserve to be protected, as does Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Speech in Canada has it’s grey areas, as it does in the U.S. (
    I agree that this American creep has every right to write and publish whatever he likes.
    I agree that Amazon has the right to decide whether to sell the book or not. What they did here, in my opinion, is make a bad business decision. And whether you like it or not, some business decisions are based on emotions and how society will react. That’s life.
    As to Amazon’s decision (of putting the book up for sale in the first place), I don’t have to like it or support it. I don’t have to give my money to Amazon ever again, in what little protest I can muster. That’s my right. It’s also my right to exercise my Freedom of Speech to encourage others to follow my lead.
    You don’t have to like it or support it.

  51. Colleen

    I will first admit I’ve been trying to avoid getting involved in this entire thing. I was a little shocked today to find my reader FULL of posts written about the topic.

    But… I found myself wanted to applaud you on having a post that was well written and without an emotional basis. A lot of the other posts I found were written entirely based on emotion and ranting.

    I caught on to the whole “shit storm” late in the twitter day. I’ll say I was disgusted at the idea of the book. I’ve come across other things on Amazon that have equally disgusted me in the past. That doesn’t stop me from shopping with them.

  52. Grant

    Wow – almost 200 comments, many of which are from people other than yourself. I’m definitely going to blog about pedophilia tomorrow. But I’m going to do it right with a positive attitude instead of like you, little miss Bitchy McBitcherson.

  53. Trishk

    You know that I work for a DV & SV Center and we have some very strong feelings on any type of sexual abuse. We started following this yesterday and at first our response was the same as the hysteria that was circulating on Twitter. Then we started actually discussing what else was out there and freedom and rights (not the rights of pedophiles actually).

    Short story, you don’t like what someone sells….don’t shop there.

    And Adam, whether you are a parent or not has nothing to do with anything! Of all people I think you understand people, parents and children better than anyone..(maybe because you are a big child at heart)

  54. maman

    As the mother of teens, I hate the idea that there are pedophiles out there. But censorship isn’t an answer. I thought American’s understood that we were constantly walking a tightrope between freedom and fear. To have one, you have to live with the possibility of the other. Because the truth is that even if they took away every book about pedophilia you still can’t guarantee your child will be safe, because when push comes to shove, it is an attraction, an urge and as such will probably always exist.

    Our rights on the other hand? Can disappear in an instant. Let’s not hand them over.

  55. Tracy Lynn

    I kind of hate the way people feel free to act crazy on the internet. If you think it’s wrong to carry a book that isn’t illegal but that you do not agree with, do not fucking shop at that store. Don’t try to incite a mob of like minded twits with fearmongering.

    People need to stop blindly following whoever yells the loudest and perhaps take a moment to think for themselves. Sadly, that takes effort and thought, while being crazy just requires an internet connection.

  56. Natalie

    I wondered who would have the balls (and energy) to take this on. Illegal and icky are do not have the same legal standing. Now I know what you did all day!

    ps – I wonder how many times we’ll have this “with great power comes great responsibility” discussion?

  57. Jessica Sides know? I just can’t do it. I can’t see censoring the works of a pedophile as a slippery slope argument to the whole of literature being banned and censored (not that by the way this doesn’t happen regularly..check out the Comic Relief Fund for a real eye opener to the censorship in this country)

    However…I unequivocally do not support child pornography in any shape form or fashion. And this book? with it’s ‘helpful ways’ to pedophilia situation is the how to to at -best- inappropriate behavior with a minor at -worst- the how to get your hand on some young ass guidebook.

    I think that if you write about fucking children or wanting to fuck children in a ‘self help’ section..then you need to not be published and wildly available. The first amendment does not cover screaming fire in a crowded building nor does it cover inciting the illegal actions of other. Touching a child sexually and writing a book about how to make it a better experience for the child is inciting the illegal actions of another.

    Flat out. No debate. No lets be reasonable. No lets look at the other side.

    Sometimes, and I know this is a radical suggestion now adays, but sometimes the other side doesn’t have a legitimate point of view guys. If someone wants to diddle your kid and got a way to make it better for him/her from this book….that’s sincerely and seriously fucked up.

    And should be completely and without the fallacies of logic being presented…be acknowledged as fucked up. With no buts, or amendments.

    That’s fucked up.

    • lorrie @ clueless in carolina

      @Jessica Sides, Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m a lawyer! Oh wow, yeah!!! Wow!! /sarcasm off. But here is my argument. If I was briefing the case I would say this: You either have an unequivocal First Amendment or you don’t. The Supreme Court has consistently shot holes in it whenever possible, and wisely I think. But you cannot rest on the sanctity of the First Amendment when it’s already been shaped, limited, restricted, etc. in dozens of cases over this history of our country.

      And then to carry the FA argument into whether or not a company chooses to carry an item and try to compare that to censorship? Do what? Unless, as someones else said, Amazon is a government funded company who controls access to all media, even assuming the book passes all FA tests, they still have no obligation to sell the thing.

      But I’ll freely admit that I’m not objective either. After being forced to represent a man who sold tickets to people wishing to rape his 7 year old stepdaughter, I quit practicing law.

      • Avitable

        @lorrie @ clueless in carolina, my point is that once you determine that it is indeed protected free speech, what reason does a company have to remove something that already exists on its virtual shelves? It was already there, so removing it is a form of censorship.

        • lorrie @ clueless in carolina

          @Avitable, okay, it’s censorship. Now why is that a bad thing in this case? I hate sounding like I’m some sort of prude. Honestly, I can match most drunken sailors and have made grown men blush…often. But this hits me where I live. Like I said, I’ll have to just concede that I cannot be objective. I don’t know if you’ve ever practiced or not??.. but in South Carolina attorneys are bombarded with orders to represent this type of scum. A couple of lawsuits have been filed over it by overworked lawyers in tiny rural counties.

        • Jessica Sides

          @Avitable, I don’t understand. A business doesn’t have the right to change it’s mind and sell what it chooses to sell?

          The government has not intervened and arrested this man on any charges at all but the issue you have is with a private corporation making a decision based on it’s clientele and removing an item for sale?

          Isn’t that their right? I mean lets talk about restricting the freedoms of others…they have a right to respond to their clients just as their clients have a right to speak about their opinions.

          I could -almost- buy the first amendment conversation. -Almost-, simply because I think that the KK K has a right to talk about mud people and those guys are batshit crazy but I don’t see where as you have a leg to stand on considering a private business making private business decision.

          Yes they are powerful, yes, they are large and widely used. However….and this is a -huge- however. Do you think they would have that power and influence if they did not listen to their customers and respond to their needs/issues/desires?

          I really disagree with that assessment on yours and others parts. Sorry.

    • Avitable

      @Jessica Sides, writing a book about the legal loopholes in the US is not inciting someone to violence; hence the book is not illegal. And as long as the other side isn’t doing something illegal, they do have the right to express themselves. And by protecting the despicable dregs of society, we’re making it safer for ourselves.

      • Jessica Sides

        @Avitable, At best..those are slippery slope arguments.

        ‘Oooh no you stop the pedophile and soon everyone will be censored!!’

        I flat out disagree with that.

        As for the unequivocal free speech argument that argument has been tossed from side to since the constitution was put into place. We have comic book artists arrested in florida for making pornography, we still have pornography and free speech issues on network tv and we have the Inciting illegal acts precedents.

        This is not about providing a defendant the right to innocence until proven guilty and a fair trial. Do not fall down that rabbit hole. This is not an ambiguous area of black hole ethics in which the possibility of this man not having an intention of facilitating some sort of emotional and or sexual relationship with a child is open for questioning.

        You are using a man who is openly admitting to the undeniable harm and irreparable damage of children in a sexual manner and saying ‘if we don’t protect him there but for the grace of god go I’. I just flat out do not buy that nor agree with it.

        • Avitable

          @Jessica Sides, slippery slope arguments exist for a reason. There’s a reason that they’re considered so seriously in the legal arena. It sets a precedent that is easy to manipulate.

          A book doesn’t fuck kids. Nor will it cause someone to fuck kids. A person does. If there need to be stronger laws about pedophilia, we should contact our legislators and demand them, not focus on making a retailer censor itself. It’s misguided and hurts us as a society.

          • Jessica Sides

            @Avitable, It is a fallacy of logic. Slippery slope is an invalid argument by it’s base nature.

            The point from which we are where you determine we will slide down into helpless ruin has many many many steps along the way and many many many incidents and you are discounting each and every one of them.

            This is textbook example of a fallacy of weak induction. Literally. I looked in my old logic text book and this is the text book example of unsound logic.

            “Both arguments (for and against censorship of pornography) attempt to persuade the reader or listener that the welfare of society rests on a ‘slippery slope’ and that a single step in the wrong direction will result in an inevitable slide all the way down.

            It occurs when the conclusion of an argument rests on an alleged chain reaction and there is not sufficient reason to think that the chain reaction will actually take place.”

            Beyond the fact that using the slippery slope fallacy you’re talking about the fact that a private business has no right to conduct it’s own business as it see’s fit..which infringement upon their own rights.

            This doesn’t hold water for me. I respect that you have a position of passion from it..but I don’t agree.

  58. Candace

    I’ve been going back and forth on this topic. My first reaction was almost word for word yours (although I do think raping a minor is worse than raping an adult, although both are horrific and I say that as a survivor).

    I discussed it with my husband who is a lawyer, though certainly not a Constitutional Law expert (he was a litigator for a big firm, then he blew stuff up for a while as a field artillery officer, and now he’s an ADA). We came up with a lot of the same examples…Anarchist’s Cookbook, Lolita, etc. If this were government censorship or calls for government censorship, I’d be 100% with you.

    At the same time, I think Backpacking Dad has some very valid points and I also believe in the right, maybe even the obligation, of consumers to vote with their wallets when they feel strongly on an issue.

    You keep responding that it would be “censorship” if you delete a comment on your site. At the same time, our Constitution does not grant equal protection to all speech in all situations.

    Speech that is political in nature is given far more protection than other forms of speech.

    I haven’t seen this book and you are absolutely right that a title and synopsis are not enough of a basis for making a judgment as to how “protected” this speech is.

    However, I also do believe a business, even a very large business, can make decisions, even very arbitrary decisions, about whether to carry a product or not. If its customers want to buy a book it does not carry, for whatever reasons, they simply may go and purchase it elsewhere.

    If people believe that the retailer, which otherwise has a very comprehensive selection, is making a mistake in not agreeing to publish / carry a particular title or titles, they are likewise entitled to vote with their wallets and secure the title, and possibly other purchases elsewhere.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding but you mention the “mob mentality” that “mommy bloggers” are being irrational because of their love for their children…possibly your love of literature is leading you to overvalue its sanctity over the mechanics of capitalism? Just a thought.

    Anyway, I’m a Libra–worse, I’m a pregnant Libra–so I will probably be going back and forth on this issue for a while.

    • Avitable

      @Candace, censorship does not always mean a state or government action. It’s also the act of one entity removing the content created by another without their permission.

      By deciding to remove the book that was already available on its site, Amazon censored it. As a company, they have the right to do so, because they’re not bound by the First Amendment protections.

      However, I think that (a) a book retailer as large as has a moral obligation to uphold the First Amendment as if they are a government entity, and (b) this sets a very frightening precedent. What happens if the Westboro Baptist Church gets enough support to start pressuring Amazon to remove books?

      By setting standards of only removing books that are illegal or pornographic, or for legitimate business reasons, Amazon was making the right choice. By capitulating to the mob, and I saw the tweets – it was a frenzied mob – they’re beginning a trip down a slippery slope.

      Already, Anderson Cooper is on CNN going through other “troubling” books that can be found in’s site. This will not end well.

      • Candace

        @Avitable, I read your post and all of the comments before mine (and your responses)…so yes, I understand that not all censorship is government censorship. However, when we talk about the censorship that we need to avoid at all costs, we’re usually talking about government censorship. When we talk about deciding what to publish or not publish, or what discourse to allow or not allow on our own personal sites, that is a far less scary form of “censorship”.

        Amazon is large, yes, and when we talk about the printed word, I also tend to error on the side of protecting speech. However, Amazon is not a monopoly. If it is, that is a separate legal issue. There are alternatives, and consumers have the right to “vote” with their wallets.

        Honestly, if we are going to start endowing Amazon, or other similarly large corporate entities, with the responsibilities of governments, that is a far more frightening and slippery slope to me.

        As to what would happen if Amazon’s arbitrary business solutions did not suit you or me? Why, then, we would also have the right to take our business elsewhere. We could buy our books from any other place we wish.

        No, I do not trust Amazon to set up a policy that would catch trash like this and not also catch the Anarchist’s Cookbook or Lolita…but that doesn’t mean that Amazon’s business decisions must all defend and protect free speech.

        My guess is that if Amazon started making decisions to exclude a political perspective, it would start losing its giant market share…but maybe I put too much faith in market forces.

  59. Allyson

    This post has too many comments for me to read, so if I’m repeating someone else, I apologize. Adam, I applaud you for your post. I am also not a pedophile, and I don’t think that I would choose to give the author my money for fear that if (s)he makes the best-sellers list, (s)he may decide to start a series. However, that is my choice. And other’s are free to make their choices. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. We’re free to speak, and we’re free to listen, or not.

    Also, sightly still on the subject, being a pedophile is (similarly to being gay) something you’re born as. So if there is a book out there that discusses the issue from the standpoint of trying to be ‘helpful’ to the parties involved in this abhorrent behavior, shouldn’t we thank someone for choosing to face this head on, instead of just pretending it doesn’t happen? To offer the children who feel like they’re living an isolated hell, a mass produced book that proves they are not the only ones who have suffered this atrocity, seems like a gift that Amazon would be the perfect store to give (considering the anonymity of shopping online).

    • B.E. Earl

      @Allyson, Wow…I have to be reading that last paragraph wrong. You aren’t comparing pedophiles to gay folks, are you? Or just for that one little commonality of being born that way? Because talk about your slippery slopes…

      • Allyson

        @B.E. Earl, only in that one way. I would never say that being gay is wrong in any way. Pedophile actions are totally wrong. It was only that you don’t choose to find children attractive any more than you choose to find someone of the same sex attractive. Or the opposite sex, for that matter.

  60. Zoeyjane

    I’m going to say something that I’m POSITIVE is going to get me hung on the internet. Sixty years ago, homosexuals were stereotypically considered disturbed, depraved and disgusting. At that time, if a book had come out explaining how-to or pontificating on the wonder of guy-on-guy and girl-on-girl love, social norms would have also called for a ban/censorship of the material. People would have cried out “what about our children?!” and used ideology typical of “if you print it/teach about it/talk about it, it will be encouraged.”

    Of course, homosexuality is IN NO WAY the same thing as pedophilia. I’m bisexual and I’ve never dug children. Pedophilia and homosexuality were, and still are to some, linked, but that relationship seems to me to be one created entirely out of fear and bigotry toward gay people. Pedophilia, to anyone who isn’t a club member, is likely only seen as attempts to cause pain to, steal the innocence of and subjugate a child (one should, if being logical, attempt to assign a larger understanding than this, if we’re going to judge it, but that’s an argument for another day, and a topic not so full of hurt and sharp knives); homosexuality can finally, by an ever-growing population, be a lifestyle rooted in the same principles as a heterosexual one.

    The following point remains: to our society, having sex or thinking sexual thoughts about children is wrong, period. So to us, this book deserves censorship for that fact alone, much as homosexuality was once universally wrong and should have been censored as well. Historically, children were married off earlier, and in the future, it may happen again, but right now, we think anyone having sex with someone not of adult age is disgusting.

    Censorship, if it’s to be encouraged, must be across-the-board. If there are groups that are against abortion, training manuals or those supporting therapeutic abortions should be censored, right? How about books about drug use and prostitution? What makes these subjects more appropriate for publication is only the size of the group who is against it. It is ONLY because such an overwhelming majority are against pedophilia, that the book apparently deserves to burn – if there were as many against heroin, abortion, escorts and blow jobs, our book stores would be missing entire sections.

    • Candace

      @Zoeyjane, Except that most of the things you mention only involve one or more consenting adults.

      Only one of your examples has any possible “victim” aside from the person committing the act whereas in pedophilia, there is a clear victim.

      That’s a fairly clean line.

      And if we are to discuss people marrying children off younger in ye olden days, we have to be clear, as well, that most of these marriages were done not because it was socially acceptable for middle aged men to lust after 10 year old girls but rather for political reasons. The girl often was taken in as more of a ward and the marriage not consummated until much later and the girl might be so betrothed to several suitors, depending on shifting political needs, before finally consummating a marriage.

      This happened because the patriarch’s family was his chattel, to be moved around as chess pieces. A style of familial relations I doubt, and I hope to God, is not coming back any time soon.

      To me the following point remains: not only is pedophilia a moral wrong within my world view, it is a deep ethical wrong. I believe in few absolutes but I believe that this is one of them. And even in cultures where the lines blurred more (though we’re usually talking about teens, here), there were those that recognized the fundamental inability of a child to consent. Even as there were those who always knew slavery was wrong, even if the majority of society accepted it.

      So, I am absolutely willing to defend the right of this author to write his book and the right of the publisher to publish it if it so chooses, etc. I’m in 100% agreement that I would be hard pressed to write a policy that would exclude this garbage but allow Lolita or The Anarchist’s Cookbook–although I don’t think Amazon needs to have a clear standard and can make its own decisions and then the market will either support those decisions or not.

      I’m even willing to go on an intellectual adventure with Adam here and entertain the idea that *might* have some sort of “obligation” due to its sheer size and stated commitment to comprehensiveness…although I’m less and less enamored of that argument, frankly.

      But the idea that it is all relative and no lines can or ever should be drawn by consumers, publishers or retailers of their own volition…that I just don’t buy.

      • Avitable

        @Candace, there are cultures today that marry AND have sex with under-age children and it’s acceptable. Also, in New Mexico, with a parent’s permission, I could marry and have sex with a 13-year old, if I so wanted. These moral and ethical absolutes aren’t that absolute.

        • Candace

          @Avitable, Regardless of the legal status of teenage marriage in various cultures, that doesn’t affect my stance that this is an absolute. Slavery was once legal and is still practiced in some places. It is still morally and ethically wrong. I believe in the theoretical existence of absolutes…although I’m always willing to engage in discussion and questions and only have confidence in declaring a very few. Sex with children is one of those few.

          We can quibble about what constitutes a “child” and the “age of consent” but most cultures are willing to draw a line somewhere. And when we are talking about pedophilia, we are usually talking about people who are unequivocally children. Unfortunately, our laws are written in such a way that, yes, some 18 year olds who have sex with 16 year olds are caught up in our sex offender laws.

          But when most people discuss pedophilia, that is not what they mean.

      • Zoeyjane

        @Avitable, the worst thing about this post and subject? There’s no way I can respectfully drop a that’s-what-he-said joke.

        Also, I’m starting to think that some (not all) people literally have no ability to follow a subject without muddying it with “I’m right”, “you’re wrong” and “I know this isn’t what we’re actually talking about, but this is my overwhelmingly ethically-based opinion.”

        • Candace

          @Zoeyjane, You jumped in with the argument about now it is pedophilia but at another place-time it could be x, y, or z.

          Disagreement does not mean someone doesn’t understand your point.

          I’m more than happy to stick to the subject at hand, which I take to be Amazon’s rights and/or responsibilities.

          • Zoeyjane

            @Candace, I wasn’t particularly referring to you, eh? It’s not just this blog, it’s widespread. It’s on twitter, it’s on the news. It’s everywhere that when people are arguing against the demand for censorship, others are attempting to quiet that argument by interjecting their opinion of pedophilia, period.

            See also, Poppy’s comment above re: bullying. That’s what I was just getting at, not attacking you. I don’t particularly think anything is ‘won’ by attacking someone in a debate about reasoning.

          • Candace

            @Zoeyjane, I would agree with your point, certainly, about personal attacks in debate. There’s no place for them. Mostly, though, they just make the person doing it look like an idiot so I don’t worry about it much.

            But I think the bullying card is overplayed, lately. Poppy’s right about public statements about maiming, killing, specific people, etc. But I am also seeing “bullying” thrown around a lot when people are just vehemently disagreeing. Also not sure I see a consumer protest or boycott against a giant company as bullying…and just to be clear, this refers to things elsewhere in this thread and on other topics but not to Poppy’s remarks, or yours.

          • Zoeyjane

            @Candace, ah, but the reference to ‘bullying’ wasn’t related to the boycotting of Amazon. It was in relation to the wide-spread ‘you’re with us, or you’re on the other side’ message that has come up several times in relation to the book’s production and availability. Some of those who are vehemently against it seem to feel that if people are openly saying that Amazon doesn’t merit boycott, those people are for the book, and therefore merit online bullying.

            Online bullying is a real thing, and its first action is often being shut out socially. I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost followers on Twitter since discussing my POV and Amazon’s role. Not that I particularly will MISS those people – they’re likely as open-minded as the ones who unfollow me after an It Gets Better link is shared – but it still blows that open discourse seems impossible without some group poking fingers and causing abusive divisiveness, like some have experienced.

          • Candace

            @Zoeyjane, Again, no argument from me. Online bullying is real. I’ve acknowledged that.

            My point was just that it is thrown around A LOT.

            And yes, it HAS indeed been brought up, in this very thread, as mommy bloggers “bullying” Amazon…I was clear though that this portion of my response was not directed at you or Polly.

            My points are two:

            1. Bullying sucks and yes it does happen as you say: “I am right, you are wrong. If you don’t agree with me, you are supporting pedophilia. Hey everyone–let’s bash this pedophile-lover!”.

            2. But we have to be careful with the word bullying, which is tossed around quite a bit in relation to this issue and other online discussions.

  61. NYCWD

    First off, I think this is probably the best written explanation of the actual issues surrounding this that is out there. The conversation on Twitter was definitely over the top in what was yet another case of the bullying Internet Lynch Mob who forgot to take off their purple “spirit” ribbons for the occasion.

    Secondly, I see there are a truck ton of comments, and I’m sure many of them are very good and I’m also sure many of them talk about how they are going to “boycott” Amazon. To those who say they will “boycott”, do it. I DARE you. No, really, even though they pulled the one book there are obviously other objectional materials on the site that you may not be aware of. While you already suggested a few things that “may” be out there, I know that they are indeed out there and therefore obviously those threatening a boycott need to really do it… even when every store is sold out of the hot toy or your budget has now been blown because you no longer pay low prices for that cereal you bought. STICK TO YOUR GUNS! Or continue to be the hypocritical consumers you really are. Your choice really.

    Thirdly, I’m sure the author is happier than heck because he probably saw more sales on his book recently than since being published. So congrats people on supporting someone your against.

    Finally, while the book is protected by censorship by the First Ammendment, obviously Happy Meals do not enjoy that same type of protection. Why aren’t parents upset that the government of San Francisco considers them inept dullards when it comes to parenting? It really boggles my mind sometimes that people would prefer to look to restrict others without fighting for their own freedoms as they themselves are being restricted.

    Frakking morons.

    Just sayin’

    • Avitable

      @NYCWD, it’s a matter of only worrying about it if you feel that your particular rights are being infringed. If it’s not affecting you specifically (in your imagination or reality), it’s nothing to worry about. And that’s why people get upset when I bring up slippery slope.

  62. Wendy S.

    At first I was one of the outraged over the whole book and Amazon selling it, being an incest survivor with my brother the perp. still acting out as a pedophile. I really appreciate some of the points you brought up. It’s people like you who might have helped to stop all the innocents in The Burning Times with your logic and ability to help others to stop being hysterical…at least you try, right ; ) I still can’t even think of the book or any book that is based on rape/abuse etc…without complete nausea and flashbacks, but thank you for helping me to be more thoughtful over this extremely volatile topic.

  63. Stone Fox

    i seriously just found out about this today. as in, from reading this post.

    i can’t comment on the censorship issue, because i don’t feel like it, that’s why. what i wanted to say was this: you could probably count me in as one of those loudmouthed mom-bloggers who tells amazon to take that fucking book down. if i had known about it, i would have been indignantly firing off emails and telling everyone i know to do the same. sometimes there are things that you see that are so wrong, so reprehensibly against society’s common morals, that it has to be stopped. if i heard a man say to a small child, “come pet the kittens in my van,” you’d better believe that i would put an end to that el pronto. is it illegal for a man to talk to a child? nope. is there a significant possibility that i have completely misinterpreted what i saw? yup. would it stop me from stepping in? not a chance. individual morals are definitely a massive grey area, but the majority of society believes that preying on children is wrong. hence, the shitstorm.

    as wrong-headed as you might feel this is, i do not believe that a person’s right to free speech is as important as a child’s right to be kept safe from predators.

    and, i did read the exchange between you and BPD. just wanted to say: amazon does not have a moral obligation to not censor any books. they are in it to make money. the best way to make money is to listen to your customers, and if your customers are saying, ‘oh fuck no’ that’s a pretty strong message. yes, they are the biggest game in town, but they aren’t the only game in town.

    • Avitable

      @Stone Fox, I think a child’s right to be safe from predators is very high, but it’s also a fine line between regulating thought and regulating actions. It’s one that must be tread extremely carefully.

  64. Robin

    This is actually something I feel very strongly about. The act of pedofilia I think is wrong and disgusting. I also think animal abuse and murder is undeniably wrong. I hate that we write people off for feelings or thoughts that they have. They have no choice in the matter but we all have the choice not to act upon our feelings and thoughts. Great post, I’ve been thinking about writing something as well, I still might.

  65. Kelly

    One comment: Anyone that would defend a book that clearly states how far touching of a minor can go before it’s considered illegal (definitely written with the intent to incite harm to a child!), is either supportive of this type of behavior or has not done enough research on this book (and the other books Greaves has written) to give an opinion.

    • Avitable

      @Kelly, I state in the beginning, quite explicitly, that I find the entire concept of pedophilia to be deplorable, so your first opinion is moot. Secondly, a book that clearly states how far a touching of a minor can go before it’s considered illegal? That is EXACTLY what a state statute does. Your own definition is overly broad and overreaching. I’m not denying that Greaves has written books that describe loopholes in the law, but isn’t that the fault of the law? He’s a piece of shit, yes, but if the law was better written, he wouldn’t have any book to speak of.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a blindly ignorant comment. 🙂

      • Kelly

        @Avitable, Thank you for the subtle insult. I’ve always found that those that name drop when someone has a differing opinion of their own, are usually the ones suffering the greatest ignorance. Next.

        As for your earlier comments on whether or not the book has illegal content: Are you saying that describing in detail (directed at pedophiles so they know what they can and cannot get away with) what is and is not legal touching of a minor, does not fall under incitement to violence or criminal behavior as outlined in the First Amendment?

        • Avitable

          @Kelly, I didn’t name drop. I said that your comment was ignorant because I explained multiple times, in the post and in the almost 300 comments above, my position about pedophiles being disgusting, so your initial comment, in an attempt to be snarky by saying that I must be sympathetic, was indeed ignorant.

          With regards to the legitimate part of your comment: Incitement to violence is a very fine line. Describing in detail what the legal rules for child abuse and how to avoid breaking the law is not inciting violence nor criminal behavior. Inciting violence or criminal behavior would entail both instructing the reader to have sex with children while also having the requisite power to actually incite someone to act based on those words. By focusing on the loopholes and the ways to avoid breaking the law, the book is doing the exact opposite of inciting criminal behavior. Once again, the law is the issue here, not the creep writing about the loopholes.

          • Kelly

            @Avitable, you said “By focusing on the loopholes and the ways to avoid breaking the law, the book is doing the exact opposite of inciting criminal behavior.”

            Yet, the author of the book described the book as an “attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow,” and adds “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.” (copied verbatim, those are his spelling mishaps).

            Knowing these are his words, would you still ascertain that this is the exact opposite of inciting criminal behavior?

  66. Kristin

    That was so well put. I teach US history, which is almost American Federal Government, so I get it.

    Forgive me for a silly reference, but remember in The American President where Andrew Shephard syas something like “standing on the corner screaming at the top of their lungs about the very thing you would scream at the top of your lungs in opposition.” That’s our country. And it works.

    I have more thoughts but not enough time 🙂

Leave a Reply