madworldorderShould a serial killer-rapist be allowed to do a Tom Clancy act in a self-published e-book, a novel about Russia’s geopolitical ambitions?

Amazon doesn’t think so. It pulled A Mad World Order, by Paul Kenneth Bernardo, aka Paul Jason Teale, a Canadian whose murders are loathsome and numerous enough to have earned him a long Wikipedia page. Families of Bernardo’s victims and others had complained.

I can see both sides of the argument here. On one hand, there’s freedom of speech and the fact that Amazon dominates so much of the book market.  I don’t want Jeff Bezos and friends to routinely kill…books.

On the other hand, consider that any serial killer’s book will come with a built-in advantage in many cases—his or her notoriety. And Amazon is, after all, a private company, not a government censor.

So Amazon in my opinion made the right choice here.

If the novel were of great historical or cultural importance or gave outstanding insights into a deranged mind, I might think otherwise—especially if earnings from it went to the victims.

Meanwhile the question arises of how A Mad World Order book got on Amazon despite Bernardo’s theoretically lacking access to the Net or email, due to prison regulations.

You can read more at CBC Canada and in the Huffington Post, which ran a video. A HuffPo follow-up with another video is ihere.

What do you think?


  1. YOU might be OK with Bezos deciding who does what but you shouldn’t be. This guy certainly isn’t the first prison convict to have written a book and, somehow, all of those got published. So how come this one can’t.

    The book wasn’t about his crimes and if he gets any compensation, it’ll likely go back to the victims. So where’s the harm??

    More to the point is the Bezos Morality Test that apparently is being applied. Is Amazon now going to be conducting background checks to ensure that those who publish meet Bezos’ moral standards? And what if Bezos suddenly decides that socialists, communists or Democrats aren’t “moral” enough to publish? No homosexuals. No Arabs (because, you know, they’re all terrorists). No books with sexual references, maybe? No books with blue colors or mentions of blue colors because everyone knows Bezos hates blue. And, of course, no books which are critical of Bezos in the slightest. That goes without saying.

    When you draw one line, it’s pretty easy to keep on drawing lines. That’s the problem with drawing lines.Nobody should be OK with that. If some other author could submit that book and get it self-published, this guy ought to be able to.

  2. Okay, now you’ve made two unsupported assumptions.

    The first is that Amazon took the ebook down for no other reason than that the author is a terrible human being. The second is that there could only be two reasons why the ebook was removed (there are other possibilities).

    I don’t know why the book was removed, and neither do you.

  3. @Nate: I doubt that the book vanished on Amazon because Bernardo had just negotiated an exclusive with Barnes & Noble. 😉 Nor do I think – you’re welcome to disagree — that a large publisher came calling. I will concede that there are factors here besides Bernardo’s crimes per se, notably that hordes of customers threatened to boycott Amazon. But guess what was the root cause of it all. So what’s left? Plagiarism or other copyrighted-related issues? I doubt it. I think that in the end, this debate is getting into “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” territory.

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