Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Pedophile Guidebook: Free Speech, Censorship and Boundaries

Amazon failed or better yet humanity failed. As you may have learned there is a pedophile guide book available for the Kindle called: The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure. Personally, I'm nauseated that such a book exists and that it has been published and is distributed through the biggest book-selling website and that there are people who rate the bashing reviews as not at all helpful. I'm horrified that a person would go as far as advise how to 'love' children 'safely' and I want to go Nazi on this book and burn it had it been a physical book.

It's a fact that most pedophiles are pedophiles at heart and a large part of them are too afraid to act and remain latent. But a guide that promises to make it all safe by 'establishing rules for adults to follow' will most definitely prompt those who fantasize to act. Maybe I'm exaggerating and this is the paranoia of watching too many criminal shows, but I think that this is crossing a serious line. When people conceived the idea of free speech, I'm pretty sure that they did not see this one coming. Curtis Silver phrases this better than me:

The Kindle e-book titled The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure crosses the line of free speech, spits in our face and then crosses back over the line. Everything that is happening here, with the existence and sale of this book is protected by free speech - unless a crime has been committed by the author. That is yet to be proven.

AND what makes me so darn angry is the fact that this is free speech, no matter how twisted and corrupted and demonic.

If I demand that the book be banned, then I become one of those people, who rile up hate and aim it at books. I mean, Banned Books Week was founded as an awareness event to promote the freedom of reading... Wouldn't it be hypocritical to demand this certain book to be banned and still preach how books should not be restricted nor access to controversial ones? Yes, I do hate that this guide exists, but I'm talking about the principle, the big picture.

When this broke out on Twitter, I've read these opinions:

@JohnKlima: even if I don't agree with what a book is about, I can't advocate censorship; we don't get to chose what the 1st Amend protects

@tn_tobias: Freedom is about making choices, not taking them away. I understand your frustration. Sometimes humanity lets you down. Censorship begets censorship.

Sadly, they are right as far as the principle goes. Once we censor something, then it will be a lot easier to censor something else the next time some other controversial book pops up.

I'm pissed off that this books exists and I'm pissed off, because if I demand to censor it, I betray the principle I stand behind. If I don't demand something be done about this book, then I betray the values I have been brought up with.

In this situation I feel so helpless.

I feel that there should be some boundaries [even if that is selfish of me as far as the Bigger Picture is concerned]. I feel that as society we are entitled to protect the moral integrity intact and I think that encouraging child molestation is a bit too much and a bit too illegal.

Your thoughts?


Bryce L. said...

I have to say I'm all for censorship in this area. If we go to far with censorship, then we can repeal it. But things like this, involving children, go too far.

I'm only a law student, not a practicing attorney, so take this for what it is (which is not legal advice), but the US law is that something that will cause imminent danger (like an actual crime) will not be protected, but otherwise it's protected under free speech.

Again, learned in law school, not real legal advice, not an actual attorney here.

Metafrantic said...

But there's another thing you didn't consider here. There's a difference between the book being written and only maybe 5 people in the world seeing it, and the book being distributed on the largest online bookseller in the world. Amazon doesn't have to sell it. It's not censorship if they decide (rightly) that carrying such a book will seriously damage their reputation. It will. And a bookstore is not obligated to sell everything that's written - they can sell (or not sell) what they want. They can make a business decision to take the book down.

Harry Markov said...

@ Seak: It's disgusting... very, very disgusting and in this case I seriously hope this book vanishes.

Harry Markov said...

@ Metafrantic: NOW that is an awesome way to get around the whole censorship deal. I was a lot more thinking about myself rather than observing the business angle that Amazon should take.

Unknown said...

We do allow `censorship' to some degree. For instance the distribution of child-pornography. As far as I can remember, we allow censorship when it protects society from danger or crime, such as yelling bomb on a plane. Is it possible that censoring a book such as this falls into this category of topics which can and should be censored for the protection of the greater good? Really in this case it is to protect a non-empowered group of people, children.

Mieneke van der Salm said...

While on principle I'd have to agree that banning books is bad, in this case I think the safety of the children that might become victims because a paedophile decided it could be okay to abuse them because of this guide has to come first. Because any one child is too many. I've been hemming and hawing over whether to click the report inappropriate content link on Amazon ever since I saw Ana tweet this afternoon. But when I got home and picked up my daughter and held her, my mind was made up. The thought that some thing vile like that book might end up in the hands of someone who might go on to hurt my child or anyone else's is chilling. So I clicked and told them that it should be taken down.

On a more rational note, I think Metafrantic makes a really good point about the image thing. Amazon is very careful of its brand and will not want to see it smeared with this.

Harry Markov said...

Really in this case it is to protect a non-empowered group of people, children.

Truer words have not been said.

David Moore said...

After a long, hard think, I've decided I (and this is my own opinion and not representative of my employers or any other party, etc. etc.) still stand firmly on the side of free speech. The very concept of the book is reprehensible, but it is one (judging by his other three books, loony-tunes) person's personal expression, and he is within his rights to create and distribute it.

Personally, I think it's either an elaborate joke, or a publicity scam; maybe he intended to start a controversy about it to expose people's true views on censorship...

Harry Markov said...

@Mieneke: I thought about my sister, which chilled me to the bone. I am not exactly saint-like and tend to not judge, but this can be someone's child and by child I mean child, so I do think it should be banned, even though inside I know I'm being a hypocrite.

Metafrantic said...

Bear in mind Harry, I'm not necessarily advocating that people pressure Amazon to take it down. Gay-bashers have the legal right to boycott Amazon to pressure it to take down anything gay-friendly, but that doesn't mean it's right. You still have the problem of a slippery slope - where do we decide that something's SO immoral it can't be said or done?

There's a difference between writing about something and the real thing. Actual pedophilia is disgusting and wrong, just like murder. But we can legally write about committing murder, so long as we don't actually do it. The same, sadly, should be true of pedophilia.

Now personally, I hope like hell the FBI is investigating this guy, and if they find he did something, he goes to jail for the rest of his life. They should also investigate anyone stupid enough to buy the book. And I think there's a case to be made that the book advocates an illegal act to the point that it's a real risk someone takes it to heart. But until there's some real analytical evidence that the book's existence *will* cause pedophilic acts to happen, I don't think it's legitimate to take it down.

Harry Markov said...

David: This is what bother me. If we ban this person, the next one could be me for some controversial fiction that I write. On principle it's not right and yet I definitely think that there should be repercussions.

Tis why I am conflicted.

Let's just hope that this is a scam.

Harry Markov said...

@Metafrantic: AND that is the sad part of it... Really.

As compensation I do hope that FBI is on to him!

Melissa S. Green said...

"Freedom of speech" does not obligate a business like Amazon to provide the speaker with a forum from which to speak, or through which to continue to propagate his offensive message.

geceosan said...

"I hope like hell the FBI is investigating this guy..."

They've been alerted to the book and it's author.

Law enforcement will review the tip and if there is cause, they will act.


Weirdmage said...

Since this is a Kindle-only book, as far as I can see, it's clear that Amazon doesn't care what they are publishing.
Obviously their moral is: We love money!

Diana said...

My ex-husband is a pedophile, and not a latent one - he molested my (then) tween-age sister. The thought that this book exists - and that a publisher thought there was enough of a market to put it out there - sickens me.

That being said, we cannot censor this book, nor will I be boycotting Amazon until the book is gone. Censorship is a slippery slope...while we all find pedophilia revolting, what are the other things you, personally, find revolting? I find fundamentalism in Christianity revolting. I find seafood revolting. I find depictions of rape and spousal abuse revolting. Does this mean that material with these topics should be banned?

No. Information is freedom, no matter what that information is. A society that bans books or other media creates hatred, fear, and ignorance. Don't we have enough of that in America?

Melissa S. Green said...

Diana wrote, The thought that this book exists - and that a publisher thought there was enough of a market to put it out there - sickens me.

I really doubt Amazon was even aware of this book: it's self-published by a guy using Amazon's "publish your own Kindle book" software. Amazon is undoubtedely now aware, & probably taking action.

"Censoring" is not the correct term for a for-profit business like Amazon looking to its image & its bottom line in a case like this. How many times can this be said? -- a business is not obligated to be the conduit for this guy's "free speech." This guy could go make copies of his writing and go from bookstore to bookstore in his own city and ask them to sell this book for him, but they don't have to. Likewise, Amazon doesn't have to permit him to use their storefront.

Nor should they.

Bryce L. said...

@Diana - We can still draw the line at this point. Christian fundamentalism might be revolting to you but it's not against the law not to mention something, like pedophelia, where we can all (outside of a very small and criminal minority) agree is reprehensible.

And I think we're all in the right to hate/fear such books and it probably doesn't hurt to be ignorant of it's content either.

Metafrantic said...

That's still slippery-slope talk, Bryce. You mention it's illegal - well so is murder, but we can still write about murdering people. You say we can all agree it's reprehensible... except for this group of people over here.

Also: the person who wrote this book? Not a criminal. The people who read it? Not criminals. UNTIL they actually act on it and commit pedophilia. It is not illegal to read something, nor to write something.

Yes, we are all right to hate such books. (Though I think fearing them is wrong.) And it's certainly our right to call for Amazon to remove it, and boycott them until they do. But I still contend that such thinking leaves itself open to the censoring of anything, so long as someone else feels it's wrong.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is atrocious!
Since it is instructing people how to do something that is illegal, I think it falls outside of the boundaries.

Unknown said...

As this seems to be the only site on a google-search that actually discusses the problem between free speech and potentially harmful content I'll try to express my views here, even though I'm not a native English speaker (or writer or whatever).

On the one side we have to see the medicinal side of paedophilia. The subject is highly disputed, is paedophilia a mental illness, a normal sexual alignment, a hybrid between both?
The only thing I can say is, that the actual sexual contact with a child is never to be tolerated, as the child is not able to decide rational for himself.
But we have to see that paedophiles do not only want to have sex but do want to have a romantic relationship with the child.

And here comes the second point. No one seems to have read the book. So how comes people want to banish it, even though they don't know what is written in it?
There might actually be tips on how to avoid raping children and focussing your sexual desire on older and therefore legal subjects. (And hell no, I won't download it either to read it up. I don't want the police knocking on my door, asking me for a Pedophile Guidebook. And I don't even own a Kindl.)

To me it seems that the only people who might actually know what is written in it are the guys at and the author. Others who may have downloaded it might have pretty good reasons to not admit it.
As I see it we can only trust that they know if the book is putting someone up to something illegal or not. And that they are acting accordingly.

So for this reasons I'm on the side of free speech. If the book is illegal by law than ban it, if it's not illegal than amazon can sell it as much as they want.

~ schandgalgen

P.S.: It might be a bait for paedophiles set up by law enforcement. But it would be quite... obviously.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Greaves can write about pedophilia all he wants as far as I'm concerned- that is his right, no matter how disgusting and vile I believe it to be. But Amazon does not have to sell his books. They are a company, they choose what books to sell and not sell all the time. Greaves has every right and opportunity to sell his loathsome how-to guide at child rapists conventions and online, I won't try to stop him.

But I will not associate with any company promoting or selling this book. It's not that it contains the subject of pedophilia, as others have pointed out Lolita is a highly read book (one I've personally read), but I somehow doubt that Amazon would sell books on how to blow up abortion clinics and get lighter sentences, or how to abuse old people in nursing homes and steal their pensions. I'm not calling for a boycott, but I won't be buying from Amazon until this book is removed. I can go buy a Nook.

Bryce L. said...

@Metafrantic - And yet we still have laws that censure freedom of speech. I really don't think just because we censor one thing, it automatically means everything we ever hold dear will be censored. I do agree that we have to be careful giving too much power to the state.

But, with books like this, where the intent is obvious - it's a guidebook for pedophiles - then censorship is okay.

And I completely fear this. I have a son and I don't want some sicko ordering this crap and using it against him. I fear for such things. The more we allow the more we're setting ourselves up for a fall.

I agree is a tough line to draw, and I usually support free speech, but this is my line.

Anonymous said...

This book disgusts me. It horrifies me. But two thoughts come to me.

1) I'm not sure I'm for censorship, even in this area.


2) Amazon is a private company. This isn't a state matter. It isn't a matter of 'free speech' (unless the law steps in, which is sounds liek it might). Amazon can step in and make a judgement call. They have done it before.

I was pissed off at AmazonFail. Why are my feelings mixed about this? I guess it's because AmazonFail was about Amazon (apprently) cutting out people and books for doing something that's perfectly OK - i.e. including homosexual content. Whereas this is about them NOT blocking something. Granted, there is no question that pedophilia is disgusting and so unlike homosexuality I don't even like using those terms in the same sentence. But people talking about something without acting on it... I don't like them talking about it, but I struggle when it comes to the point of banning them.

SQT said...

I think this crosses a line. I know the argument that we have to allow speech we don't like etc. etc., but like someone else mentioned, we make exceptions for things like child porn. This is at the bottom of the slippery-slope and I think a real argument can be made for pulling it.

CJ said...

It is certainly a tough topic, Harry.

If free speech is to mean anything at all, it must protect all speech, including written words, not just what we agree with. If it doesn't, it is meaningless babble.


Someone else mentioned the limitations to free speech. In the US, that includes the concept of 'yelling fire in a crowded theater'. Such behavior is not covered under the First Amendment here because of the potential harm of such an act - the patrons could panic and people would get hurt trying to get out.

So, is their potential here, with this book, for people to be harmed?

I'd say yes, without a doubt. As far as I can see, there is no redeeming value in such a book so I have little trouble calling for it to be banned.

Free speech isn't at issue. Protecting our most vulnerable people and upholding cultural mores and the law are.


Weirdmage said...

If I yell "Allahu Akbar!" and "You are all going to die!" on a plane, that should be allowed, according to the "not-illegal" point of view.

"Allahu Akbar" means "god is great"(,or "greater" according to some translations of Arabic), so that is an expression of my freedom of religion.

"You are all going to die!" Is a fact. We are all going to die.

However chances are you would be in a prison camp in Guantanamo, or a US friendly Arabic nation, if you uttered those.

-This may seem a different subject, but actually in my example above, I don't fascilitate anyone else doing something illegal, but will likely go to jail.

The book is, according to the author, written to help people get away with something illegal. The author knows this ,by writing it's his intention to help pedophiles getting "liter sentences".

Yelling "Allahu akhbar" on a plane will get you jailed indefinately without a trial, and is not covered by the US 1st amendment.

This is not an easy case, but for me it's not about banning books, but helping criminals.

Kathy Berken said...

This is not a free speech issue. This is a business decision by Amazon to sell this book. Period. The author can write what he wants and print what he wants and then it's up to us if we want to buy it or support it. Booksellers do not have to sell everything in print. If enough people complain, Amazon may see their bottom line jeopardized and remove the book. But if that is their only reason, I want to know what in the world has happened to our decency.
Think about all the possible how-to books that could be written and sold on Amazon. Really, do I have to outline this? Why can't Amazon take a moral stand on this?

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

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