How does a book with the heinous title, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure" make Amazon's Top 100 list for Kindle? How does Amazon accept pre-orders for the hardcover version of "I Am the Market: How to Smuggle Cocaine by the Ton, in Five Easy Lessons," or sell "RapeLay," a video game in which the protagonist stalks and rapes women?
In a statement recently released by TechCrunch, Michael Arrington noted that Amazon is standing by the first amendment right of free speech and that "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."
Amazon might have gone on to say 'we live in a capitalistic society and the almighty dollar rules' but that is solely an inference on my part. What I do know is that the rank and file from several social media networks were outraged by this type of literature being made available by one of the world's largest online book retailers.
Phillip R. Greaves II, the author also defends his work as follows:
Yes, the word "liter" is misspelled by the author - but that is a minor critique, when you weigh in the import of what he is trying to justify. Devoting an entire book in defense of pedophiles is something truly abhorrent, and while Mr. Greaves deserves the right to say and write what he wants, it is apparent that the 'wisdom of crowds' are not on the same page with him.
After countless tweets (many using the hashtag #amazonfail) and a Facebook page created demanding a boycott of Amazon, netizens did voice their opinion loud enough for Amazon to back down on their position and actually remove the book from sale.
Similar sentiment was posted by the Twitterati.
Bordering on a lynch mob mentality, some of the tweets targeted the author more so than Amazon.
In a Fox News report, Christopher Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression indicated that Amazon should not have been prohibited from selling the book. He asserted that the e-Book retailer has the right to do so under the First Amendment. According to Finan, they can sell any book that is "not child pornography" or "legally obscene." Apparently since the book did not include any illustrations, it does not fall into either category.
The Internet has long been seen as a dangerous playground for children, when pedophiles can disguise their identity and prey on the young. TV Shows like "To Catch A Predator," was the first to boldly expose this dark side of humanity. Hugh Collins in an AOL report probably summed it up best, when he noted, "Social media has become a key marketing tool for musicians, celebrities and sports stars. But for Greaves, it may not prove a happy hunting ground for prospective readers."
UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this blog, the following update came in. As social media attacks are mounting, other developments are occurring that could not only damage Amazon's reputation, but potentially hit them in the pocketbook, where it counts. It's been reported that Amazon is acquiring Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com and Soap.com, in a $540 million acquisition. This is a cash deal, and the founders of Quidsi have been reportedly signed to employment contracts by Amazon. According to a TechCrunch article, titled, "Diapers.com Wants Nothing To Do With New Parent Amazon’s Pedophilia-philia" - it appears that this saga could threaten to damage the relationships between the two companies and the eventual outcome of this acquisition. I will keep updating as more news comes in.
Your thoughts, readers? Do you vote for Freedom of Speech, or censorship?