Today I found myself defending a How-To guide for pedophiles. Yep. Didn’t see that one coming. But I got into some good discussions on twitter and thought I might try to lay out my thoughts in a blog post.
Yes, this book is reprehensible. Yes, I would prefer that it didn’t exist. But it does exist. So now what do we do?
Today I watched the call to arms go out through twitter. Call Amazon! Make them pull the book from their “shelves!” My first instinct was to do the same. And then I found myself pausing.
The same people reacting this way are the people who celebrate Banned Books Week every year and generally despise censorship. They praise the First Amendment.
And then something happens that makes them question this stance. Because this is a Bad Book. No question about it.
I started out the day just playing devil’s advocate. But then I realized that I really I do think that it is hypocritical to be anti-censorship and then ask bookstores to pull this book from their shelves.
First of all, I don’t think this is child pornography. At least not anymore than Lolita or any other book that features an adult/child sexual relationship. You can argue that a How-To guide is different, sure. But where do we draw the line? And I could argue that it incites people to commit crimes and therefore is not free speech protected by the First Amendment but that’s not really the issue.
And I don’t have a problem with Amazon making a choice not to sell this book or people choosing not to shop at Amazon because of their choice to sell it.
I just think that if we really are against banning books, we have to be against banning any book. Period.
Please comment (respectfully) and let me know your thoughts whether you agree with me or not.
[Update: As of 11/11/10, Amazon has pulled the book from its site.]