Amazon not getting much love after hawking child-prostitution guidebook
August 3, 2012 | 1:34 pm
By Dan Eldridge
Those of you who don’t happen to agree with Grandma Stella’s doomsday view need only read Andrew Losowsky’s latest HuffPo piece, “Amazon Attacked Over Sex Tourism Ebook“. Losowsky explains the situation best in his article’s lede paragraph:
“Amazon came under fire from Love146, a group that campaigns against child trafficking and exploitation, for selling what appeared to be a self-published e-book encouraging pedophilia overseas, “Age of Consent: A Sex Tourists Guide!” by Peter F. Friedmann.“
Kinda gross, no? Naturally, it gets even worse; here’s the book’s description, which was seen by Amazon visitors who may have been thinking of adding Age of Consent to their summer beach-reading lists:
“In some countries it is even illegal to have sex outside of marriage, with severe consequences if you are caught doing so! On the flipside, there are many countries on this planet where the age of consent is as low as 12 or 13… This $3.49 will keep you out of jail, possibly the most important few dollars that any red blooded testosterone pumped traveller will spend.”
Personally, I think the most interesting aspect of the situation has to do with the fact that after having made the ebook available for roughly nine months now, “the book’s listing was removed by Amazon on Thursday evening,” according to the HuffPo piece. And get this: Back in 2010, a book titled The Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure was similarly banned from Amazon, but only after a significant amount of protesting was carried out against Amazon by an anti-child sex slavery organization based in New Haven, Conn., known as Love146.
“However,” as Losowsky writes, “Amazon initially defended the book’s availability, 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.’”
Does anyone else find it as fascinating as I do that a corporation as large as Amazon would release such a statement? Because while most literary-based organizations do at least give lip service to their supposed defense of censorship, the simple fact of the matter is that even someone who happens to be a hardcore proponent of free-speech will probably be okay with the idea of censoring a guidebook to kiddie-prostitution. And yet, after risking its mainstream, Middle America reputation by releasing the anti-censorship statement, Amazon went ahead and banned the book after all!
I’m very curious to know how all of you feel about this particular situation. Granted, there are a lot of moving parts here, but let’s start with this: Is Amazon doing the right thing by banning this sort of content? Or do they have a responsibility to promote and uphold the very American value of free-speech?