Learning to Embrace Limits

By now most of you would have heard about the furore that erupted over the decision of Amazon com to sell a book praising paedophilia. After a huge public outcry, the mega online bookseller finally pulled the book. The episode again raises questions about freedom and censorship.

Here is how the story was first reported: “Amazon is selling a self-published book defending paedophiles, sparking discussions about the retailer’s obligation to vet items before they are sold in its online stores. The book, The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct by Philip R Greaves II, offers advice to paedophiles afraid of becoming the centre of retaliation.

“It is an electronic book available for Amazon com Inc’s Kindle e-reader. The book has triggered mounting outrage on Twitter and beyond. A chorus of Twitter users is calling for Amazon to pull the book, with a few threatening to boycott the Kindle store until it does.”

As mentioned, a fierce public reaction soon resulted in Amazon having second thoughts. This is how one news outlet describes the situation: “An e-book for sale on Amazon com entitled ‘The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure,’ was apparently pulled by the online retailer late Wednesday after shocked consumers across the nation called for a boycott.

“The title, authored by Philip Greaves, was published late last month, according to product details previously available on Amazon com. It sold for $4.79 on the company’s Kindle Store. ‘This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] rules for these adults to follow,’ a product description read. ‘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 content led to hundreds of tweets criticizing Amazon for allowing the title to be sold and a Facebook page was created calling for a boycott of the Seattle-based company. ‘This is totally unacceptable,’ one Facebook posting read. ‘This is not about freedom of speech. This is a HOW TO GUIDE FOR PEDOPHILES! Shame on you Amazon com’.

“Another posting read: ‘They are screwing themselves over just in time for holiday shopping.’ Earlier Wednesday, Amazon stood by its decision to sell the e-book. ‘Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable,’ the company said in a written statement. ‘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’.”

The article continues, “This isn’t the first time Amazon has sold material that promotes illegal activity. It is currently accepting pre-orders for the hardcover version of ‘I Am the Market: How to Smuggle Cocaine by the Ton, in Five Easy Lessons’ by Luca Rastello.

“Nor is it the first time Amazon has come under attack for selling objectionable content in its store. In 2002, the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, threatened to sue Amazon for selling ‘Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers.’ That title is still available through Amazon. In 2009, Amazon stopped selling ‘RapeLay,’ a first-person video game in which the protagonist stalks and then rapes a mother and her daughters, after it was widely condemned in the media and by various interest groups.”

While it is good to see Amazon bowing to public pressure, it seems this is not the end of the story. Evidently Amazon is still selling other books by the same author. But the question remains, why in the world did they allow a book like this to be sold in the first place?

Of course libertarians will claim that censorship is always worse, even worse than allowing pro-paedophilia books. Sorry, but they are dead wrong. Indeed, only a moral midget would make such reckless claims. There are some things worth having limits on.

Indeed, there are some things worth banning altogether. Paedophilia is one such thing, and books praising it would be another. Anyone who thinks that adults should be free to have sexual relations with children – whether consensual or not – is not someone who should be handed a microphone in public.

Amazon was quite happy taking the libertarian position on this. Of course they would do so not out of a great love for the freedom of speech or expression, but to simply make greater profits. They will want to sell anything and everything, just to make more money.

So it does no good having them lecture us on the importance of free speech and letting the public decide what it wants to read. Not surprisingly, other libertarian groups sprung to the defence of Amazon. As the above news article notes:

“That doesn’t mean Amazon should be prohibited from selling it, countered Christopher Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. He said that Amazon has the right under the First Amendment to sell any book that is not child pornography or legally obscene. Finan said Greaves’ book doesn’t amount to either because it does not include illustrations.”

Wonderful – there are no illustrations, so this textbook for paedophiles and how they can get away with their sheer evil is quite acceptable. As has been said before, a lot of open minds need to be closed for repairs. All civilised societies have limits and regard certain things as taboo.

As one American commentator put it, “Censorship is a defining act of civilisation. Societies cannot exist without proscribing certain things.  When we outlaw racial discrimination or drunk driving or price-fixing, we are defining who we are.  And just because we proscribe drunk driving does not mean that we’re on the slope to forbidding driving. Only the weak-minded find it impossible to make simple distinctions.”

Or as G.K. Chesterton long ago said, “Art, like morality, consists of drawing a line somewhere.”


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16 Replies to “Learning to Embrace Limits”

  1. I sometimes wonder if my children will be fighting the pro-paedophilia movement in 20 years. Now that homosexuality is seen as acceptable it seems a small jump to consensual sex between two people with a large age gap.
    Kylie Anderson

  2. Thanks for that Kylie

    I have not yet looked at the link you provided, but given what you said, notice her glaring double standards. Normally, paedophilia is a “complex” issue and we mustn’t judge. But when it comes to the church (as rare as it actually occurs there), then all of a sudden it is no longer complex and we certainly should judge!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Society has already accepted the thin edge of the wedge in the Homosexuality debate (marriage, adoption etc). Paedophilia becomes the inevitable corollary…

    Next will come the bestiality argument, & then what? Necrophilia too??? (Corpses can hardly so “no” and if they are dead then there’s no “impingement on their human rights” is there?

    My soul weeps…

    Paul Evans

  4. Yes quite right Paul

    When we take the view that there are no moral absolutes, then eventually we have to argue that anything goes. And why not? If right and wrong is whatever I happen to decide it to be, then some folks will like sex with children, or animals, or the dead, or other possibilities. Who is to say they are wrong if everything is relative and there are no universal standards of right and wrong?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. I agree with Paul – a strong movement exists to keep pushing the boundaries; as it stands now paedophilia is universally rejected on the Left & Right and most religions of the world – but a constant push & pressure will be seen in the coming years for the legitimisation of it. Another major battle down the road. Sad, but predictable that the sex party lady would justify the actions of paedophiles by saying it is complex – but she is an attack dog against the Church – she hates the light because she loves and is addicted to darkness.
    Neil Innes, NT

  6. “Another posting read: ‘They are screwing themselves over just in time for holiday shopping.’ Earlier Wednesday, Amazon stood by its decision to sell the e-book. ‘Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable,’ the company said in a written statement. ‘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’.”

    Does the Amazon spokes-per-thingy realise that they have contradicted their own position:
    a) it is censorship to not sell certain books because the content is objectionable
    b) Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts.

    So do Amazon sell books promoting hatred or criminal acts, or not?

    If not they are engaging in censorship.

    If they do they are supporting things which they have said they do not support.

    John Angelico

  7. Kylie, I am guessing that what the woman meant by it’s a complex issue, is that if the paedophile relationship is consensual, healthy and enjoyable then it is is OK. Whereas if – as she would suggest, with examples from the church – the relationship was manipulative and coercive then it was wrong.

    But using the consensual argument would mean that as long as sadomasochism and cannibalism were consensual and enjoyable then anything goes.

    Life sure gets complex when we move away from the God given ordinance of marriage. The day that marriage between one man and one woman is once more restored, then life will also become simpler.

    David Skinner, UK

  8. This is just disgusting. We need to pray, pray, pray….

    Jane Petridge

  9. David, if you watch the video the complex issue is whether we should censor anything or if everything is allowed under free speech. She said it is hard to draw the line, we don’t want to become pro-censorship, anti-free-speech after all. Melinda (the other guest), said it was easy. You draw the line at things that are promoting the harm of children.
    Kylie Anderson

  10. Kylie, The woman from the sex party believes in dualism, in that what we do and say has no connection with what we are or become. For her the saying, “sow a thought and reap a behaviour; sow a behaviour and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a character and so on and so on” is a meaningless statement.

    And clearly as Melinda says, we have tough choices to make in life and no human right is absolute, such as the absolute right to freedom of speech. We cannot have it all.

    We have to choose between the spiritual, moral, emotional and physical health of our children or a free for all which will lead society to self-destruct.

    But we cannot have both. It is either one or the other and we have to choose.

    David Skinner, UK

  11. Amazon was taking the position that refusing to sell such material is paramount to censorship. I disagree. No retailer has to sell everything. A dress shop may refuse to sell a certain dress that a designer would like them to carry. A department store may choose not to sell a brand of laundry detergent for whatever reason. And, of course, a book store may also refuse to sell a book. Refusing to sell a book does is not equal to censorship.

    That said, I do agree that any material that glorifies crimes against children and pedophilia should be illegal.

    Kendra Mallock, US

  12. I have sometimes pondered what, if I owned a newsagency, I would feel about selling some mainstream magazines with dubious content, but at least in the most part these magazines are concerned with adult consensual sexual activity.

    But this is disgusting. I submit that any material that promotes anything illegal or provides a how-to guide for the same should also be illegal, be it paedophilia, bomb-making, tax evasion or how to avoid paying legitimate parking fines.

    David Williams

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