Today, Amazon took a stand! For pedophilia!
No, seriously. Amazon is selling this in their Kindle store: The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure. (UPDATE: as of Nov. 11, the page is down. I've captured screenshots of what the listing looked like, and you can view them as a .pdf file here.)
This is the author's description:
"This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian 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 [sic] sentences should they ever be caught."
Now, anyone can publish anything on Amazon's self-publishing platform, mind you. I don't blame Amazon for not catching it immediately. What I DO blame them for is their deplorable response to the situation once they were made aware of it... over and over and over.
Amazon has received complaints about this book for at least the past few days. I found out about it this morning, as did thousands of others, who flooded their customer service phone lines, e-mail support, reviews, and alerted the media.
I called Amazon twice and got nowhere-- the first (outsourced in India) support person who answered told me he couldn't do anything because their systems were down and I should call back later. I told him I didn't need anything in their "systems." I just wanted to voice my concern that they were stocking this book. He acted confused and told me there was nothing he could do while their systems were down. So I called back later and the second support person "accidentally" disconnected me when I mentioned the Pedophile's Guide and asked if they were planning to remove it.
I've since e-mailed and used the "feedback" form, to no avail. Others have gotten this response:
As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking. That selection includes some items which many people may find objectionable. Therefore, the items offered on our website represent a wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of topics.
Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.
Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable. Therefore, we'll continue to make controversial works available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they're
prohibited by law. We also allow readers, authors, and publishers to express their views freely about these titles and other products we offer on our website.
However, Amazon.com doesn't endorse opinions expressed by individual authors, musical artists, or filmmakers.
Several problems with this statement.
1. "As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking."
And that includes books on pedophilia. Thank you so much, Amazon, for this noble goal of yours to make it easier for pedophiles to find the how-to guide they might be seeking.
2. "Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts."
In fact, Amazon, you do. You are supporting a criminal act against children-- and even promoting it-- by advertising and selling this book. No one is forcing you to carry this book. You are doing it. You are encouraging people to buy this guide and learn how to be a better pedophile.
3. Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable.
That's not in any way censorship. Amazon is a private company and can choose what to stock and what not to stock.
4. We also allow readers, authors, and publishers to express their views freely about these titles and other products we offer on our website.
Liars. Dozens of people complained that their reviews were removed when they posted negative reviews this morning. When I first looked, there were only about 12 reviews-- despite others saying there were more than 100 earlier. Now there are more than 500, so it appears Amazon has either lost its grip on deleting all the reviews as they come in, or are rethinking this strategy. But, if you're going to call "censorship," THAT is much closer to the definition. Removing negative responses to a book while claiming to allow open reviews is censoring.
Free speech doesn't apply here, either. It was this creep's right to write and publish the book, but that doesn't mean that anyone has to sell it. Choosing to do so implies that either (1) you actively support pedophilia and would like to encourage others to try it, or (b) you don't give a shit and just want to make money. Or both.
Jeff Bezos, I thought better of you.
When writers self-publish on the Kindle, they also have to agree to the Terms of Service that says, among other things, that their book is not pornographic. So let's get this straight: pornographic material featuring consenting adults is not okay, but manuals about how to rape or molest children and get away with it are A-OK!
I have never boycotted anything, ever. Today begins my Amazon boycott. That hurts me... I shop at Amazon every week, I have a Prime membership, and I get terrific bargains for my family. But I can't support a company that is actively helping teach people how to molest my daughter... and defending their right to do so.
If you agree, here are some ways to make yourself heard:
- Use the blue "Feedback" box on the bottom of the book's page to report it.
- Amazon customer service: 1-800-201-7575 (or 1-206-266-2992 from outside the U.S.)
- Kindle support: 1-866-321-8851 (or 1-206-266-0927 from outside the U.S.)
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: firstname.lastname@example.org
- "Community help" e-mail: email@example.com
- Call and write to your local media: newspapers, magazines, television news programs, and radio.
- Boycott Amazon until they remove this book.
My own book links (on the right sidebar and elsewhere) point to Amazon. I'm not removing those links yet because it would be very tedious to take them all down and put them back up if Amazon does the right thing-- which I very much hope they will do, quickly. But I will ask that if you do buy my books, please buy them from BN.com or elsewhere in the meantime.
I am a rape survivor. I was 10, and I was asleep in my own home, and so were my parents. If you think pedophiles can't strike you or your kids, think again. This isn't just something that happens to "other people." It happens to us.
UPDATE: 11:55 p.m. Nov. 10
My friend Foinah Jameson called customer service and wrote, "They assured me that this item would definitely be removed within the next few hours. The rep I spoke with said that there had been hundreds of tickets logged regarding this matter in the last hour -- he had personally done ten himself. He was horrified by this book. Take a moment to call customer service. It's worth it."
I was very glad, and called customer service again. Their response to me was the opposite: that Amazon would NOT stop selling the book, but that they would put up details in 24-48 hours stating that they don't endorse or promote its content. They don't believe in censorship. And they hoped I would be happy.
The service rep got an earful from me. She remained perky and unconcerned as I explained that selling an item IS endorsing it and promoting it, and that I am amazed that Amazon would take such a stance against its own customers-- alienating most of the human race for what? To stand up for a pedophile's "right" to teach others how to rape children?
She said, "If you honestly feel that way, then I'm sorry, but we don't believe in censorship."
If I honestly feel that way? No, I'm just kidding about it, lady. I'm just acting all mad, but I really think pedophilia sounds fun. Let's all try it!
This is not about censorship. It is not censorship to choose not to sell an item. If it were, then every other store on the planet could be accused of censorship, as none of them attempt to sell "everything." Corporate buyers make decisions about what to stock and what not to stock. Amazon can choose not to stock this, without having anything to do with the Constitution, the right to free speech, or censorship! It's just a simple business decision.
That decision should have been made much easier by the fact that Amazon's customers are speaking loud and clear about how much this is angering us. You just don't piss off the majority of your customers and expect to keep going with business as usual.
Until now, Amazon has had a clear lead in online sales of not only books, but just about everything. Were I a shareholder, I'd be very nervous right now. I really think today will have long-standing consequences.
Even if they pull the book now, I know my opinion of Amazon has changed permanently.
They've censored my reviews before (and yes, I do mean "censored"), but this is the book they're going to bat for. This is the one they're standing behind, willing to lose thousands of loyal customers, willing to spit in the faces of every one of us who's ever been affected by a pedophile.
CBS and CNN have run stories on this now, and the book's link temporarily went down during those broadcasts. The link and book are back now. And I'm more disgusted by Amazon every second.
UPDATE 12:36 a.m. Nov. 11
Here's a link to Amazon's own self-publishing guidelines:
(Thanks, Celina Summers!)
Here's an excerpt:
If Amazon Digital Services, Inc. determines that the content of a Title is prohibited, we may summarily remove or alter it without returning any fees. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to make judgments about whether or not content is appropriate.Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with some examples of prohibited content:
Pornography and hard-core material that depicts graphic sexual acts.
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of Titles sold on our site.
Titles sold through the Digital Text Platform Program must adhere to all applicable laws. Some Titles that may not be sold include any Titles which may lead to the production of an illegal item or illegal activity.
That's right-- according to its own guidelines, the Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure should be removed immediately. Instead, it's currently the 65th best-selling Kindle title. Way to go, Amazon.