Thursday, November 11, 2010

#amazonfail


Thanks to Amanda, who posted about this last night, I too have been observing the Amazon controversy. And I am outraged - though not in the sense everyone else is. If you don't know what's been going on, here's a short version for you: Amazon was peddling a book entitled The Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child Lover's Code of Conduct by Phillips Greaves. Here's what was in the product description:

"This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certain rules for these adults to follow. 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 the ever be caught."

The whole nation outraged, people started boycotting Amazon via Twitter (hashtag #amazonfail), Facebook (groups such as Boycott Amazon for Selling Pedophile Guide) and finally Amazon itself, via reviews. At the same time, defenders (of sorts) have spoken, with comments mocking the protester's shock ("It eliminates the need for candy and a van", says a commenter on Facebook). Finally, the book was pulled.

Here comes the part where I tell you what I think, but not before I make it perfectly clear that I am not a pedophile and do not condone pedophiles. In fact, I think it's cowardly and disgusting. I'm all for whatever two consensual adults wanna do together, even if it seems disgusting to me. However, pedophilia, rape, necrophilia and other situations where it's not consensual and/or not between two adults are not okay.

That being said, I think that this is most likely much ado about nothing. First of all, I couldn't find any information about this book, and I've looked. Nothing! No synopsis, no reviews. Sure, it's entitled A Pedophiles Guide, but that does not mean anything. Is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy really what it says in the title? Perhaps this is a big case of judging the book by its cover. Secondly, there is the issue of the author - the name is obviously a pseudonym, Google is no help, and the only thing we know about him is what he posted (quoted above). And this could very well be a marketing trick.

Finally, the issue of censorship. After Amazon pulled the book, I am a bit disappointed. Does this mean that now all the books by Marquis de Sade (especially 120 Days of Sodom) will be pulled as well? And then the movie version? And what about A Single Man and Lolita? If these books and movies get pulled, that will be the biggest #amazonfail of them all.

20 comments:

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I'm glad to hear you voice this specific opinion.

The content may be distasteful but the larger issue is of censorship.

Amazon has failed in the face of social pressures.

Bad Amazon. No cookie. At least not from me.

Nikola said...

Thanks for the comment. Again, I wanna stress that I don't condone pedophilia. I would not read this book.

However, I also wouldn't read books that deny the Holocaust or books. I just thing that this is blown out of proportion simply because you can buy ANYTHING out there. And definitely, this is basically an issue of censorship, which I'm against.

Amanda said...

Ugh. When I went to bed last night it hadn't been pulled. I'm sorry to hear it has been this morning. To me, that's the real Amazon fail. And the book blogger Fail too, because so many book bloggers who are against banning were totally for banning this book. That really disgusts me.

Teri said...

Did you know that every retailer out there 'censors' what they put in their store. They have vendors approach them, asking them to sell their products and the retailer says yes or no, typically based on what they feel their target clientele would want to purchase. If Amazon feels that this book was appropriate for their target clientele, then I want nothing to do with them. The book will be out there somewhere else I'm sure, but not at a store I shop at.

Nikola said...

@Amanda Agreed. And I don't know anything about this whole blogger thing. Mind sharing some links? :)

@Teri Thanks for the comment. Of course I know they censor what they sell - if they sold porn, for example, people would find that objectionable and it would hurt their sales. Even though porn is 100% legit. The thing is, if you don't want to do with them because they sell this particular book, I am afraid you'll quickly run out of places to shop - I guess every single book (or movie for that matter) out there could be objectionable for people. "Mein Kampf" anybody?

Angela said...

This isn't an issue of censoring. That guy is free to print his own book and try to find someone to sell it for him. Or he can go door to door selling it himself (ha! try that sicko)

It's also not some fictional work that is disturbing but not reality. Too many people have their eyes closed to the fact that pedophiles are lurking everywhere and while I appreciate that this book has opened up the issue so we're at least discussing it I find it completely disgusting that Amazon considers the rights of this pedophile more important than the morals of the issue.

I will certainly be boycotting Amazon FOR GOOD. They will never get another cent from me.

Angela said...

Oh yea and the author is a real person. The content is no joke or marketing ploy. Quotes from it are disgusting as I heard them on Anderson Cooper yesterday. There was also a description of the book on Amazon, not sure why you didn't see it.

He even had the gall to get on TV for an interview. I saw it yesterday and I can't remember where now - maybe on Anderson Cooper.

He was basically defending his right to sell the book and feels pedophiles are misunderstood (barf!)

Nikola said...

This isn't about this "pedophile's" rights, it's about people being selective. Why this book and not others? And how is this not the issue of censoring? Not to mention people who honestly believe this guy should be locked up. For writing a book.

And "Mein Kampf" is not a work of fiction.

If you believe pedophiles are lurking everywhere, this book won't change that. Don't get me wrong - I am 100% against pedophilia, and I am not defending this particular author, but the idea behind the public outrage.

Soccer Mom said...

I'm sorry, but I am a huge, huge, huge supporter of Freedom of Speech--journalist after all--and I do believe the Supreme Court has ruled on child porn...i.e. not protected speech. It's one thing to portray a situation to enlighten the masses, such as House of the Spirits' violent rape scene. It's a complete bastardization to say a how-to guide to make it "safer" for these kids in abusive situations and "lighter" (I fixed his spelling) sentences for these sickos! I believe comparing the title of this book to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is misleading. There is a description--you quoted it above. It is a at least parading around as a how-to guide for abusing children, plain and simple. Unless I missed something the Hitchhiker's Guide the Galaxy never did that...and besides hitchhiking the galaxy isn't illegal. Also, I do believe NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Lovers Association) actually did give the book a star on that Amazon page that has since been taken down. Finally, free speech and censorship is only illegal when it comes from the government, not a private retailer or citizen. While I appreciate your take on it, I just can't justify the necessity of selling it.

Nikola said...

Hey Soccer Mom, thanks for commenting.

I agree the description quoted above is disgusting. But as far as I understand (and I saw this on Anderson Cooper when he discussed this book with some lawyer, so I guess it's right), this book itself is not illegal. More specifically, it's not child porn, as it's not porn at all.

My comparison with the "Hitchhiker" thing was solely because not one single comment I've heard came from someone who has actually read the book. So it's just based on the title and a blurb or two.

Finally, apart from groceries, there is no necessity of selling ANYTHING.

And again, I'm not pro-pedophilia. I'm just trying to put this scandal into a certain context.

Angela said...

No this book won't change the fact that there are pedophiles but I and many others will simply choose to not support a company that sells material that blatantly supports such a sick criminal activity.

They've announced they've pulled the book but the fact that they defended it did it for me. That and there is another book supporting boylove with reviews and all that are seriously sickening. I would NEVER have bought from Amazon or supported them in any way knowing it was there.

Anyway, we obviously have a huge difference of opinion and I won't keep going point for point.

Nikola said...

But saying that Amazon supports pedophiles by selling this book is like saying that they support antisemitism by selling Mein Kampf.

We in fact do not disagree all that much - I would never EVER buy/read this book - but we are looking at the problem from different angles.

Patience_Crabstick said...

My initial, emotional, response to this story was to be outraged against Amazon for selling such a book. This quickly turned to selfish worry about the items in my Amazon cart. Did I really have to boycott them now? Who else would sell me all three seasons of The Mighty Boosh at a discount or deliver a 700 pack of Splenda to my door every six months?
Then I felt a faint distaste for the people proclaiming a "victory" when Amazon agreed to pull the book. They seemed so thrilled to see another book made unavailable to the public. I wasn't sure I wanted to be on their side. I thought about the book itself. The author is surely not someone I would ever want near me or my children, but would it really cause the victimization of more children? Then I realized that the author's motive is hardly to create a safe and sanitized culture of pedophilia, as he claims, but simply to make a lot of money and get noticed. Who is the real audience for this book? Actual pedophiles or voyeuristic types who are titillated by the title even though they have no intention of abusing a child? If I wanted to write a book denouncing the victimization of children, I might need to read this one. Amazon was wrong to cave to the pressure of the emotional over the reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, I am against pedophilia.

I wonder at Amazon's thought process for even picking the book up to be sold. Amazon DOES get to choose which books it sells, as do all book stores, and with the internet as it is, SOMEONE will choose to sell this book. Why choose a book that is so completely polarizing, about a subject that is illegal to pursue, about a subject that will so obviously, to any marketing class drop-out, be a bad business move?

Forget for a moment (if you can -- the book title is burned into my brain and no amount of Clorox can get it out) the title of the book. For Amazon to carry it, but then REMOVE it, starts a slippery slope. It opens the way for anyone to call for a ban on ANY subject, and have people forgotten about book burnings?

Bad on Amazon for not choosing wisely in the first place -- let another book store carry it. Give this one a well-deserved ick, a shudder, and a pass. Think twice -- YOU DON'T HAVE TO CARRY EVERY BOOK KNOWN TO MAN. Carrying books, then pulling them, makes you look like you have no one at the wheel.

They messed up on so many levels.

(Any comments, please email me).

Wall-to-wall books said...

Wow, I had not heard of any of this! What? Do I live under a rock?

I do not agree with censorship of any kind! If you don't want the book, don't buy it. There are books (and websites) out there on how to build a bomb but we don't have to buy them. There are going to books of all kinds about everything under the sun (and under the covers) and we can't protest everything. They can't only publish books that everyone agrees on! If that were the case there wouldn't be any vampire books, no witch books, no homosexual books, actually no sex books of any kind LOL, no religious books, no political books, anyway you get the picture.

I don't agree with the supposed subject but I don't agree with censorship even more.

Wall-to-wall books said...

P.S. I also would not stop shopping at a store just because they carried something that I didn't like!

Nikola said...

@Patience - What a fabulous post - thanks for commenting. I agree.

@Anonymous - Exactly my point. *Maybe* it was wrong to sell it in the first place (which is a topic I won't get in), but pulling it just seems inconsistent and proof that censorship still exists.

@WalltoWall I agree 100%. And as soon as I heard the news, my immediate thoughts were - I know so many important books that could be banned on the basis of not falling into what we see as normative. And this makes me sad.

upsideofinertia said...

The Harry Potter saga are currently the most banned books in the United States Libraries.
http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedbydecade/2000_2009/index.cfm

mywordlyobsessions said...

I caught something about this a while ago but didn't really bother to look into it. As you said, with book banning it's often 'much ado about nothing'. I've seen people tear a novel to pieces because of its' title wihtout any knowledge of what it ACTUALLY contains.

You make an excellent point. The public shouldn't be so quick to crucify an author just because what he's writing LOOKS iffy.

Dana Wright said...

I think the subject matter of the book is objectionable, but if you don't like something, don't buy it. There are so many books that have been banned. To someone's point, even Harry Potter. Censorship is wrong. I may despise the book, but it is not my call to stop people from reading it. Pedophiles are slime and I think they deserve what they have coming to them, but if it is just a book that is objectionable, walk away. If we don't, it will be one step closer to banning any book that is disagreeable in some imaginary way. Not to say that a field manual for child rapists is ok. It's not. But if we start dissecting every book that offended someone we wouldn't have anything left. I don't want to live in a world without choices. I don't want a future like Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.