Amazon.com : Pedophiles Deserve Freedom of Speech Too…Right?

What has to be the most interesting defense I’ve ever heard for “freedom of speech” came in 2010 when Amazon.com put a self-published eBook on their online market. After all, anyone that wants to write a book on any subject has the right, because it’s in the Constitution! That’s the American way, after all, or at least should be.  Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wait until you hear the title…

The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure
by Phillip R. Greaves II

Yeah. I was pretty shocked as well.

What was even more unbelievable was Amazon’s argument as to WHY they allowed this eBook to sell on the website…

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.”

For some reason, it’s hard for me to believe that a corporate giant like Amazon would have a priority list that looked something like this:

  1. Not censoring anyone (even if they are pedophiles)
  2. Making money (even if an eBook is only selling for $4.79…every dime counts!)
  3. Not upsetting the customer base and losing profits
  4. Maintain a positive image (who needs those, anyways…PR is completely unnecessary! duh.) 

The Pedophile’s Guide is not Greaves’ only book on the subject, but has also released a book with a more shudder-inducing title (I know, I didn’t think it was possible): Our Gardens of Flesh: From the Seeds of Lust Springs the Harvest of Love.

Perhaps the most disturbing side of this Greaves’ angle in his books is his attempt at trying to justify the pedophile “lifestyle” by pointing out things that are apparently condoning sex with children in American culture.

Aspects of our culture which celebrate a sexual attraction between adults and young children include little naked statues of child-like cupids and comical references to such relationships like the ones on “Family Guy”.

Somehow, when the writers of Family Guy developed the character Herbert, I don’t think they were attempting to defend pedophilia.

If that wasn’t enough, more rantings can be heard from the horse’s mouth itself in the following video…

My favorite quote from the video: “What they don’t realize is, the word ‘pedophile’ itself means somebody who loves children!’ Using this logic, apparently every mother, father, grandparent, and sibling that loves a child is a pedophile. I guess we learn something new every day!

One commenter on this Youtube video says: “Honestly I’d have no problem with this man living in my house. He has a head on his shoulders that is probably more intelligent than all the commenters here combined. It’s disgusting that people say that pedophilia (to love a child) is wrong based on some dogmatic world view of what is ‘good’and ‘right’. It says a lot about society, one can not simply think for themselves. Reality is there a hundreds of thousands of pedophiles by definition. As he said, most are not murderous rapists.”

When I read this comment, I was even more shocked – there are other people that seem to think pedophilia is excusable and an actual OPTION for a lifestyle? That commenter can and probably should live with Greaves…preferably, in a boarded-up house. I am not surprised that “disgusting” and “pedophilia” would be in the same sentence…however, I am a little confused as to why someone would say that people who believe pedophilia is wrong (hopefully, the majority of people) are “disgusting.”

At this point, I feel like someone should be calling up Chris Hansen.

All joking aside, I’m fairly inclined to agree with the book’s commenters. This subject is very touchy, understandably so, as people who have dealt with victimization, rape, and child abuse have tragic memories that they don’t want others to experience. My heart goes out to the people that were personally offended by the release of this eBook, including this one:

“It is ILLEGAL to molest children, and for Amazon to promote such is insane. I’m an abuse survivor, and am OUTRAGED Amazon would choose to promote this nonsense. I will not be purchasing anything from your website until this is removed.”

Amazon apparently put their thinking caps on and decided to remove the eBook, but only after an overwhelming public outcry made them hide in the corner. Personally, I feel that they should have removed any of Greaves’ work off of the site after this ordeal...but people can still enjoy his “revolutionary” and “innovative” thoughts. Perfect for any Christmas list, I’m sure.

At any rate, Amazon should have predicted that putting a book like this on their website would not receive positive feedback. Seeing as I don’t really believe they were worried about “free speech,” it makes me wonder how this little gem passed onto their markets. Is the reviewing process for eBooks not very vigilant? Or did some less-than-clever associate decide that this material would actually sell?

Clearly, Amazon’s handle on their public relations was pretty flippant in this case. Namely, the conflict management seemed to be lacking. On page 48 of Think: Public Relations, the “threat appraisal model” is mentioned.

“A threat to an organization requires an assessment of the demands that the threat makes on the organization as well as an assessment of the resources available to address the threat…Are the knowledge, time, finances, and management commitment available to combat the threat?”

In this case, I’d have to say yes. All Amazon had to do (and what they did end up doing after over 2,000 people posted irate comments on Greaves’ book site) was remove the eBook. The general reluctance and outstanding lack of judgment on the part of Amazon was inexcusable. I’m still quite puzzled as to how this happened. Time and finances were no obstacle, especially considering the fact that the eBook was selling at less than $5 a copy. I’m just baffled why this eBook was placed on the market in the first place…much less why it took Amazon a few days to delete it.

For those of you who are curious what happened to Phillip Greaves, I don’t think you will be surprised. But at the same time, I do find that Florida cops must be pretty tricky. The man lives in Colorado, after all. But I won’t criticize their actions, it just makes me wonder how many states don’t have strict obscenity laws. Specific laws by state are surprisingly difficult for me to find on the Internet – can one of the commenters help me out?

Silvana Taylor

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26 thoughts on “Amazon.com : Pedophiles Deserve Freedom of Speech Too…Right?

    • I realize that the company may be attempting to take the “high road” by allowing freedom of speech, but at the same time this seems a little too much. I feel like more people would be outraged at allowing this eBook on the site, not “yay Amazon for upholding our rights!” There are limitations on all of our rights, like not yelling “Fire!” in a crowded place for no reason. Also, eBooks on how to steal, mug people, knife fight, or other illegal actions are not allowed…so why would one on pedophilia (also illegal) be allowed?
      -Silvana

      • I agree with what you are saying here. Amazon should have thought this through ahead of time, so that they would not have posted the book in the first place. Then they wouldn’t have made it worse by posting it and removing it after defending why they posted it.

    • I’m sure that amazon didn’t think much into it considering there are a lot of books that are ban such as huck finn that are band but are also very popular books. Maybe amazon thought that this book would be controversal but wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it ended up being.

      • Honestly, I think pedophile should have triggered a red flag for Amazon. They knew better. I wonder if anyone actually purchased the book before they took it down.

  1. I can see where Amazon was coming from here, by trying to show that they are unbiased in what they offer on their site. However, it seems like they would know what a controversial issue offering this ebook would become. By issuing a statement like they did, they alienated customers who did have a problem with the ebook, and possibly others who view “we support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions” as “we don’t care what you think of the book, you don’t have to buy it but those who do will make us money.” Amazon had to know that they would lose some customers from this. Then by removing the book they went back on their statement, getting themselves in more hot water by being a company thats stances on issues fluctuate with the wind of customer dissapproval.

    • I understand their point, but it is obvious that it wasn’t their true intentions when they took it down just because people complained. They must not have been too worried about freedom of speech, honestly. I think they would have known it was controversial if they thought it through – but honestly they probably didn’t even see the eBook. I agree they alienated customers, and they seemed like they only cared about money. Amazon didn’t take a strong stance whatsoever – they just seemed careless and greedy.
      -Silvana

  2. It’s quite strange the products and material that make it to consumer hands. This topic is actually very disturbing. I somewhat understand what Amazon may have been trying to get at but it seems like they were just being careless. Maybe they thought that particular ebook would only get noticed by buyers looking for a “specific genre” or something like that. Maybe they though no one would notice. Either way it showed poor judgment on their behalf. I think it’s funny how they said ” 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.” How is it you do not support criminal acts but you’re company sells a book with close association to criminal acts.
    I think their PR should have taken more control over the situation. By simply pulling the books that doesn’t do enough. I can understand why someone would boycott because of this issue. I would choose not to use their services again not because they have this book available, I’m sure there’s way worse books. I would prefer not to use Amazon because they’re making poor decisions on the behalf of their company. It shows me they’re careless with their image, when all they have to do is sell books, not sympathize with pedophiles. It’s not THAT difficult !

    • There are many ways for Amazon to attempt to justify this whole thing, but in the end I think it had to do with carelessness and neglect of what was being published in the eBooks. I totally agree – it seems strange that they said they do not “promote” criminal acts – but what else would selling a pedophile’s guide be?

      I think their PR should have tried not to make excuses, and admit what they did was a mistake and wrong instead of going for the freedom of speech angle. Seeing as they did withdraw the book, I don’t think they were that worried about freedom of speech. Maybe it’s “unfair” to discriminate against pedophiles, but in that case I guess I’m unfair. I’d rather be unfair than offend thousands of people and appear to condone illegal acts.
      -Silvana

  3. This is a GREAT article by the way! At first I understood their motive, but when they deleted the book two days later it made them look both “messy” and “contradictive” in my eyes. I feel like if they were that passionate about being unbiased then they wouldn’t have deleted it regardless of the negative comments they were given. In fact, unbiased or not, that book and its title is alittle disturbing and can definitely offend someone that have dealt with something like that in their past.
    I loved when you mentioned Chris Hansen because I used to watch that show all the time and was pretty disgusted by what I saw. Knowing that Amazon, such a huge company would sell a book that displays that awful image is mind blowing. This is more of a common sense conversation because in this case, they didn’t use any.
    -Martise W

    • I totally agree with you! By deleting the eBook, they totally contradicted their freedom of speech argument. And I thought Chris Hansen would be pretty appropriate for this case, haha! Yeah, sometimes money can cloud our judgment, I think.
      -Silvana

  4. I really don’t know what Amazon was thinking! I am shocked to hear this, I had never heard of it before. Did corporate America really reach that level of greed and carelessness. I don’t think that PR can help in something like that and I think their statement was even more ridiculous. That should’ve been exactly the moment when they chose “NO COMMENT.”

    Did they really think that those words they said would’ve made the public understand! In the meantime, how did this book got published to begin with??????? Seriously!! How did it get an ISBN number and went through all the procedures? Shame on Amazon! by the way, did they apologize?

    • I hadn’t heard it either! When I found out about this story, I figured it’d be a great blog post. Corporate America reached that level of greed long ago, I’m afraid. In this case, retroactive PR would have been a lot less effective than using preventative measures. No, the words wouldn’t make the public understand – they just wanted to come up with an excuse that sounded good. They didn’t release any other statements, including an apology, from what I’ve seen.

      -Silvana

  5. I understand that this is a personal and touchy subject, and I do believe that this can surely offend people who have been traumatized and hurt before. The term “pedophile” does not sit well with most people at all, and nothing is really ever positively attached to the term. With that said, I do see where Amazon made the decision to let the book be offered on the site. Although there was much backlash, they were showing their objectivity and fairness, as well as complying to the Law. We all have the option of Freedom of Speech, and while we don’t agree with every opinion published, said, or written, all anyone is really doing is exercising their right to freedom. There are many things that people do not approve of: pornograhy, hate speech, many different things. Although none of this is honorable, it’s still out there and this, unfortunately, is the case. I can tell from your blog, as it is heavily opinionated, that you don’t approve of the actions taken by Amazon. What would you have done, to stay fair and yet please the public? It’s not the easiest thing, in my opinion.
    -Jaleesa

    • It may be opinionated but I’d rather have a strong opinion that I can back up, than be wishy-washy and not take a stance on anything (; I think the point of these blogs is to share our opinion on how the PR was handled in different cases.

      Although freedom of speech is a right, it is not the job of Amazon to facilitate this. Just like you can get fired for not showing up to work in uniform or for cursing on the job, they can choose what to sell on their website. I don’t think they were showing “fairness” because if they truly upheld this policy, they wouldn’t have deleted it after people complained. I think they were trying to find a good excuse for neglecting what was appearing on the site, and the “freedom of speech” argument was the best thing they could have come up with.

      To stay fair, I would exercise my right as an owner of a website and not allow this eBook to be sold in the first place. Pornography may be available on the Internet, as well as hate speech, but I see neither of these things on Amazon (maybe I haven’t looked hard enough). Just because something is available doesn’t mean it should be condoned. Molesting children or having sexual relations with minors is illegal, so this book should not have been available. eBooks on subjects such as how to mug people or make bombs are illegal, so this should be too.

      -Silvana

      • Silvana,
        I wasn’t trying to offend you or get you in any way defensive about your stance; everyone has a right to their opinion, AS DO I. We are supposed to be looking at this from a PR perspective. I don’t know if you were in class that day, but our teacher did tell us that we weren’t supposed to be like THIS IS WRONG to anything against the other side. I am a journalist major, and part of being a journalist is to be objective, even if you personally don’t agree with something. i don’t agree with this book, you wouldn’t see me buying it, but Amazon is in the business of SELLING books and they are an equal opportunity business. They are not the face of America; once they had enough customers that opposed the book, then they got rid of it. I understand that, and if I would have known about it, I would have been one of those (anonymous) to comment on it and try to get the book off myself, but that would have been me taking a stance as a citizen, NOT a professional. But the could be just me.
        -Jaleesa

  6. Silvana,

    At first when I began reading your blog, I thought perhaps this is a satire or perhaps this is like Lolita, but as I began to try and research and find out what the book was about, I found out it was more closely related to a how to manual rather than a love story or something else. That, to me is shocking. I found it interesting in this CNN article http://bit.ly/9xUaXe was the limitations that were laid out, as well as his early introduction to sex, which in itself could have had some psychological impact on him. With all that being said and based on the topic of the book, I believe that Amazon should not have sold the book. Personally, I do not believe the book should have been published. And I’m sure you are thinking, but that is in violation of the First Amendment, censoring the publication of book! but, there are limitations. In another class of mine, we are going over laws. And, while it is not necessarily a law, but rather more of an unwritten, but typically followed rule of thumb, like the golden rule, you have rights, until you hurt someone else. In this, case, this book is setting up hurt to someone else. On that basis alone, I would say this book should not be published. If this book were not set up as a how to guide, and rather, someone’s opinion on why they are okay with pedophilia, then by all means, publish it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But this, from the research I did as well, does not sound like what the book is about.

    Dayna

    • I completely agree with you, Dayna. It never occurred to me that it could be a satire, but I think that would have been a better defense on Amazon.com’s part – “we thought it was meant to be satirical.”

      There are always limits to people’s rights, as you said, and this book is basically advising people on how to break the law and molest children. It is definitely meant to hurt other people, despite Greaves’ claims. I don’t think it should have been published either, but if Amazon wanted to use the “freedom of speech” claim, they wouldn’t have taken it down.

      If this book was defending pedophilia, I wouldn’t have a problem with it being published, either. I may not agree with the book, but it would just be opinion. This goes beyond that and tells people how to become pedophiles or live that “lifestyle,” which is against the law.

      -Silvana

  7. Well, I think that Amazon was sloppy with this move. You hit the nail on the head with those comments you put in parentheses. It’s as if they just said “Who needs PR? We’re Amazon!” ..just sad. Amazon could have just left this one alone. If it was an attempt to appeal to all of their customers, it simply wasn’t worth it. People as controversial as Pedophiles ( the negative connotation i guess) can do their own reaching out, if it’s that serious.

    -Porsha

    • I see what you’re saying. I think they should have just sent an apology and taken it down instead of using an excuse in an attempt to justify what they did. I really don’t think they were worried about free speech, they just wanted people to believe that they weren’t neglecting their material.

      -Silvana

  8. An interesting read I have to say. I agree with Gina when she say that this is nothing new and that a lot of companies uphold freedom of speech for everyone. I personally this guy is insane but insane folks write books all the time. I think it is useless to argue about the pedophile, knowing that the majority of people have a negative connotation with the word. Just like the word gay meaning happy but when someone says their gay most people believe that they are homosexual not happy. I do not agree with the cause or purpose of the book being abused as a child myself but if people want to be irate, they should be about irate about everything else too. Take O.J. Simpsons book, “If I Did It”. This man had one of the most famous murder trials in American history and was acquitted and then wrote a book about if he committed a murder or making light of human’s life being taken away. Amazon didn’t take that down. It’s free speech right? Or the hundreds of hate books or separatist supremacist books that are still in heavy rotation. If Amazon is going to take one down, take all of them down. Lets censor across the board. I am not condoning pedophilia but the thought of free speech is something to consider.

    -Orlando

    • If they were actually worried about free speech, I’d say censoring was not necessary. However, since they gave into the pressure a couple days after all the comments were posted, I’m inclined to think that the free speech argument was just a ploy to shift the blame.

      I understand that murder is very wrong, but I don’t think OJ’s book told people HOW to murder people. It’s not right that he was making light of the situation, but it wasn’t a how-to guide. Also, children are defenseless and need protecting more so than adults, in my opinion. They have to learn not to trust people – when you’re young, you don’t know what could be bad in the world yet.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      -Silvana
      Th

  9. Definite tort of outrage case. That’s really all I can think to say, but…if I am to wholly stand for First Amendment rights, saying someone should never publish what they want to publish is wrong. Except when that publication poses an immediate danger to a person/persons, of course. Which is what I’m assuming is the case? I honestly am not too excited to go and look up more details to be certain, so…yeah.

    As for the Youtube commenter, look at the environment we reside in, Internet-wise. This is a place where people who, without use of this tool, would perhaps never realize there are other people who think/act/do as they do. Kinks, especially. And when enough people of similar mind in this regard make contact, communicate, and grow, a sense of justification grows with it. It’s okay to think/act/do these things because others do, regardless of how “normal” people react.
    This is as true for something as mundane as knitting as it is for people who come together in “pro-ana” groups, promoting each other to become anorexic. Everything becomes justified in a group. I don’t doubt this mentality is in said commenter to some extent. The author, too. You gotta wonder what circles this fella floats in, especially web-wise (probably exclusively web-wise…).

    (I’ll spare you what I’ve heard around the younger blog culture about supporting or condemning shotacon/lolicon, which is along these lines pedophilia-wise)
    –Laura

    • I do think that his book posed an immediate danger, as it was basically outlining how to have a sexual relationship with minors. Children who suffer from sexual abuse often feel like they can’t do anything about it or tell anyone, and for this reason amongst others I feel this case should be taken more seriously than actions of murderers or thieves.

      It’s true you can find pretty much anyone on the Internet, and it’s a way to justify actions. I’ve seen pro-ana sites and they’re pretty tragic, in my opinion. I wish someone would encourage those people to get help instead of letting other people egg them on.

      Thanks for not telling me about shotacon or lolicon…those sound dangerous! Haha.
      -Silvana

  10. Silvana,
    I’m also surprised by Amazons actions. I can’t believe that they’re one of the biggest online sites, and it took so long to remove this eBook. I feel they were worried about not letting people use their freedom of speech; however they’re going to receive more controversy for selling these terrible books then people upset because their books have to hold acceptable standards.

    Just like Laura said, freedom of speech is a right, but not if it’s going to hurt or cause danger to someone. Maybe, Amazon’s PR people should have considered that? Promoting freedom of speech is not necessary, we’ve all known about it since elementary school. They should have allowed people to write their own books, but have had many people reading over the content. I would like to think the majority of people would not accept this.

    Yes, promoting the fact that you’re allowing anyone write their own eBook is something cool and fun, but they went about it in the wrong way, and they were clearly not prepared for all the “crazies’ out there in the world.

    Taylor 🙂

    • The fact that they’re such a popular and well-known company may be exactly the reason they didn’t feel they had to remove the eBook. If it were a less profitable web site, this sort of backlash could really affect their profits. But Amazon probably thought (and was right in thinking) that they wouldn’t lose too many customers.

      A lot of the commenters seem to think that I’m against freedom of speech, which isn’t the case! I just think Amazon used that as an excuse. If they really were worried about that, then they wouldn’t have deleted the book despite the outcry. However, they are their own business and can decide whether or not they want to publish it.

      -Silvana

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