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November 2010
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Amazon pulls “A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct” from Kindle Marketplace

Either Amazon has reversed their initial stance on keeping the book (The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure by Philip R Greaves) in the marketplace or the author has pulled the book himself. As for 11:55PM PST November 10th the book URL returns 404 Not Found status code.

The book has apparently been on the marketplace from October 28th and it was just one of 750,000+ books on the marketplace (most of which no one will ever see). Here’s excerpt from author’s book description:

This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught.

The book slowly drew notice until inevitably all hell broke lose on October 10th in the blogosphere. Cached copy in Bing search dated 11/10 has 8 customer reviews (all negative). Posts written on the same date at a later time mention 500+ reviews (vast majority of them negative) leading me to believe that all of them were left in the second half of the day. As of now there are 1,700 blog posts on the subject that were published within last 24 hours.

Amazon’s initial stance was summarized in the following statement:

Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.

Pretty soon boycott petitions started circulating on the internet rapidly collecting hundreds of signatures despite the late hour.

Eventually either Amazon or the author got their wits together and pulled the book from the marketplace.

There were pretty much bare facts.

Now for my personal opinion…

Somebody within Amazon who reviewed the book and approved it for the Kindle marketplace exercised some very bad judgement by letting a book like this get published. While it’s hard to say if the book text technically constitutes a crime or not, there is no more moral justification for existence of such book than for hypothetical ”Humane murderer’s field manual – How to kill your victims without making them suffer”.  Just as Amazon leadership believes in the “the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions” I believe in the right of every company to use moral judgement and plain common sense when making their own selling decisions. Legality shouldn’t be the only criteria when deciding whether to sell something or not.

I do hope that Amazon realized that selling this kind of book is wrong not only because customers and bloggers scold you for it but just because it is just wrong regardless of freedom speech. I will be looking forward to an official press release admitting as much. If would merely be a symbolic gesture since with or without Amazon there are loads of filth in the Internet but the right gesture nonetheless.

13 comments to Amazon pulls “A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct” from Kindle Marketplace

  • Stephen

    Free speech is all very well but people just can’t say that.

    I mean, I can see what the problem is with this book but eventually you have to say “I don’t support free speech at all, I want some books banned”.

    I think the best argument is that this book incites people to criminal acts and to ban it for that reason. Saying that pedophiles are immoral is, I think, true but lots of people think gay or black people are immoral too and I don’t want to be limited by people like that. Legality, if we actually have freedom of speech, should be all that matters when selling books. I don’t want some faceless guy in an office at Amazon to decide what my morality should be. Common sense is just a nice way of talking about your own gut feeling. People’s sense of common sense can totally differ.

  • admin

    Stephen,

    I agree that you may get into a gray area when censoring books. I come from a country where state censorship used to be really bad. But this book is clearly beyond the line. And I’m not talking about censorship here. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that everybody is obliged to publish every single bit of information. People can still choose. If somebody wants to publish a piece of garbage that is otherwise legal – I’m fine with them doing so – just not in my store. That should have been Amazon’s position.

  • Theeo123

    the problem is, where does it stop, who get’s to determine what is “too wrong”
    I have no interest, whatsoever in what the KKK has to say, but I’ll bleed to defend their right to say it.

    I’m a parent, I have three young children, I worry about things happening to my child.

    I almost bought this book, how better to know how to protect your child then to know and understand the mind of those that would do them harm?

    is this book going to create pedophiles? I don’t think so, there are sick people out there already, reading this book is not going to create new pedophiles any more than violent video games will turn normal kids not terrorists.

    Shall we ban chemistry books, because they can teach the making of explosives? Or any book that reveals supposed government secrets for the nations safety.

    Again I’m not advocating what this book is saying, but who do we put in charge of deciding for us, what is safe & what isn’t? more importantly, why do we want someone else, to make that choice for us? and what happens when that same person, you trusted, makes a decision you don’t agree with?

    To the end that this book encourages criminal acts. What about all the “how to hack” books? Any book that gives a tutorial on how to Rip DVD’s is encouraging a criminal act as well, the supreme court ruled AGAINST fair use, and said ANY method of circumventing protection technologies is a federal crime., so I think half the O’Rilley library needs to be taken off amazon if that’s your standpoint. Books about cryptography would mostly be out as well.

    telling someone HOW to do something is NOT the same as saying GO DO IT.

  • christine

    Disgusting… A book like this should have never been published in the first place! Freedom of speech means a lot but, there are always boundary’s of common sense that should apply to everyone.

  • Stephanie

    It’s not just a matter of someone within Amazon having poor judgment for publishing the work of some pedophile. It’s a matter of Amazon claiming they do not censor books when that is far from the truth. In fact, Amazon is KNOWN for censoring pornography, and yet they let someone publish and they profit from a book for pedophiles??

    No. There is ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION for what Amazon has done.

    One has to wonder just how much money Amazon and the writer made from distributing this book and what they plan to do with the proceeds.

    All I know is that they will NEVER get another red cent from my wallet!

  • “Censorship” is, specifically, state suppression of free speech. So Amazon cannot censor, by definition. They are a private company and may choose what to publish or not according to their own judgment. That said, the decision to allow the publication/sale of this particular book was incredibly poor and I applaud its reversal.

  • amalie

    thank you Theeo123, I hate pedophilia but love my civil liberties – as a famous SCOTUS justice once wrote, “sunshine is the best disinfectant”

  • Christopher Sykes

    @Bill Snedden

    Censoring doesn’t need to be done by a state/government. Not sure were you got that from. At the very most, dictionary entries state it must be done by someone holding an authoritative position. Common sense dictates that Amazon and other companies are in an authoritative position within the jurisdiction of their store.

    Onto the book: It’s a damn book teaching you how to molest children without getting caught. Don’t quote me on this, but I don’t think giving instructions on how to break the law is even covered by the first amendment(for the same reason screaming “fire” or “bomb” in a crowded place isn’t). Amazon had a significant amount of people complaining about it, so they would’ve looked foolish to refuse to take it down based on nothing other than principal.

  • James

    Let me preface this by saying that I do not condone pedophilia.

    Censorship is censorship, regardless of how you color it. Amazon is a private business and can (and should be allowed to) choose what books to sell and what not to sell; the same goes for the publisher. But the moment you pass judgment collectively that a book should not be published, you open the door for any book to be questioned. Are the feelings of Muslims any less important when considering the publishing of The Satanic Verses?

    Take personal responsibility for what you and your family read — but don’t try and place the same stricture on me. The freedom of the individual is paramount; the question of taste or what might be done with the book after it is read is only relevant to the individuals involved (i.e. taste is opinion and therefore subjective and ever changing; breaking the law (denying the personal liberty of another) is not a future concern but a present one).

    You either apply the principles of freedom without reservation, or you limit freedom and leave its definition and application to the whim of the mob.

  • vickie cross

    I dont think its all about censorship. I think its about the double standered. They wont distribute porn but will distribute a guide to pedophile. I cant beleive that people are defending this and saying it freedom of speech.

  • theeo123

    Christopher Sykes
    actually you CAN scream Bomb or Fire.
    bare with me here
    Inciting a riot, is against the law, yes.
    but if I stand up in a theater, scream “Fire” and everyone laughs at me, then goes back to watching the movie, I’ll have broken no laws, at all, period.

    For the record, yes Distributing material about how to commit a crime IS covered by free speech, Hacking any computer system is a federal crime, and you can find hundreds of “how to hack” type books, Books on picking locks, Books about explosives, Etc. all very easy to find in any book store or online retailer, and even at your local library.

    Vickie brings up a good point about the double standard though.

  • Carol

    I would applaud Amazon for removing the book had it not taken massive public pressure and a month to do this. It is sad when we don’t require any conscience or morality in the marketplace, or have and standards in society,when people really don’t know what that means. It seems that the most important value is not to hold any values. Anything we do that gives any platform for pedophiles or lets anyone make a profit by it is WRONG.

  • Craig

    I am completely on board with protecting speech from government censorship. Amazon’s freedom of speech stance should have been that they don’t sell or provide access to harmful material. Amazon is large, but they are not the government and don’t have to provide a venue for all speech. It is nice that the consumers are around to remind Amazon what are appropriate boundries for the moral company.

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