The book, The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure by Phillip Greaves, was available for sale on Amazon.com for $4.79, causing bookworms to call for a boycott of the online retailer until the offending title was removed.
Amazon was having none of it. It issued a response to the calls for a ban, saying:
“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.”
This also applies to other objectionable topics like Holocaust denial, which is illegal in many countries, but is allowed on Amazon on the grounds of free speech.
The problem with the free speech argument is that it does not apply to pornography, which Amazon will ban in a second. While obviously pornography is a different kettle of fish to text books on Holocaust denial and paedophilia, it’s hard to justify a policy against censorship while certain subjects remain censored.
Business Insider has called on Amazon to apply its non-censorship policy to pornography as well, rather than having different rules for different things, but chances are that there is a legal block in place to prevent Amazon from doing so.
The book has been removed, but it’s not clear if Amazon has changed its policy under mounting public pressure or if there’s something going on behind the scenes.
Initially it defended the book, then removed it, then put it back up again, and now it’s gone again. We wonder if an offended employee might have taken it offline, despite Amazon’s staunch defence of its policy. Potentially the book may resurface on Amazon.
Many people may believe that the book is illegal – but if it does not actually contain child pornography there is little law enforcement agencies can do – as the law is particularly grey on the dissemination of information, no matter how objectionable.
There are countless books out there from a psychological perspective on paedophilia, which are all important texts to help psychologists and victims address the problem, but a guide for pedophiles is a different matter entirely. Yet if it has literary, artistic, political or scientific value it is well within the confines of the law.
The problem with this book is that it acts as a “how to” guide for paedophiles.
Censorship, in all its forms, remains debatable. On one hand we must all protect our rights to express ourselves, even if our opinions are questionable or against societal norms, but on the other there is a fine line of responsible communication that can be crossed.