Welcome back to What's Up Tweep?! Welcome to the third edition of my monthly feature. This is when I take a look at bookish questions, and whatever else tickles my fancy. This month's question was: The Amazon.com conundrum, what are your thoughts? Will you still buy from them? I'm torn. Amazon.com has been a hot button lately after their failed attempt to hide behind free speech. They let a pedophile publish a book about how other pedophiles can love children, without crossing a line. Riiiiiiiiiight!!! I know that idiot "writer" said he had never done anything to a child, but Amazon.com should have used some common sense. I know this is a long-winded question, but what are your thoughts?
My thoughts: A couple of months ago I said I don't believe in banning books. I think I have to amend my opinion. Recently, Amazon.com had a book written by a pedophile on how other pedophiles could love children. I personally would love to ban this book, but issues of free speech arise. If I'm allowed to say what I want, who am I to censor someone else. I'm also not a parent, but I don't think you have to be in this case. When something is wrong, it's wrong. During the controversy here is what Amazon had to say:
"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."
My first thoughts were, "Who is the idiot who approved this?" Where was the common sense? It can't be all about the money. The "writer" of this book said he wasn't promoting criminal activity, but it's lunancy to think something criminal wouldn't happen. Some disgusting pervert who bought that book could easily get ideas from it. Someone probably has already, but likely we will never know. So in a way Amazon was supporting criminal acts. Did no one forsee a big backlash? Before this I bought books from Amazon regularly, but I have stopped.
A few days ago, I was shopping online for a Christmas present for my brother. I found what I wanted on several sites with several different prices. A Google search showed Amazon.com had the item, and at a cheap price. But I resisted the urge to go back on my vow. I found it on another site just as cheap. Now what about my blog? I have links to Amazon with the books I read. I must stress that I make ZERO from Amazon, it's purely to provide an image of the book. I personally will never buy from Amazon again.
Thanks to Sugarbeat and Julie for their comments on the subject.
Sugarbeat had this to say: Here's a longwinded answer. I sell used books on Amazon. I pick up estate collections of books and then sell them on Amazon as well as Abebooks. Although I am absolutely against the pedophile book being up for sale on any reputable medium, Amazon breaks it's own rules in other genres. As two examples, in the past year I have sold a coffee table book called Nazi Ensignia for a fair amount of money (to Brazil) and another book called The Romance of the KKK. Both would fit their criteria of hate literature, yet I listed and sold both without being challenged. There are multiple listings for erotica. At what point does erotica become pornography according to their guidelines?? But this doesn't make the news......
Julie had this to say: I emailed Amazon this morning to cancel my account. At this point, I'm sure everyone is aware of the recent "scandal" (for lack of a better word) surrounding Amazon's decision to make a how-to book on pedophilia available for sale through their website. I won't be naming the book or author on here because I refuse to provide any further publicity for something so disgusting. I will be including links at the bottom to news articles as references, so if you are unaware of the situation, please check them out.
When the first wave of complaints were heard, Amazon defended their listing of the book as an issue of free speech. Although the book has since been removed, Amazon has issued no further statements. Then, yesterday, I read an article from MSNBC on books featuring nude photographs of pre-pubescent girls from Eastern European and Asian countries (areas well known for their ties to child sex trafficking) that are available for sale on Amazon. Again, I won't be linking or naming names, but the news article is linked below. Amazon has not given any statements on their decision to make these books avaialble for sale. I have also not heard that the books have been removed, although it's possible that they have been. It's not really something I care to go looking for.
Regardless, my decision was immediately to remove all business and personal ties to Amazon. My decision had nothing to do with free speech issues and I won't be discussing that here. There are a TON of blog posts already discussing the free speech issues, and it is a fascinating conversation so I do urge you to check it out. I'll include links for that as well. My issue with Amazon is one of corporate responsiblity. A company's decision to stock handbooks for pedophiles has nothing to do with free speech. I'm not requesting a government ban of the book or that the author be arrested simply for having filthy, disgusting beliefs. I'm asking that companies I support with my money refuse to sell such material. Bookstores, even large ones like Amazon, are not denying an author free speech by refusing to stock a book. If that were true, Amazon would need to stock every book ever written by any author.
In recent years we've heard a lot about corporate responsibility in terms of our environment. Amazon has a wonderful web page listing all the things they've done to "go green" and I support all of their efforts to do so. But just as corporations have a responsibility to citizens of earth to take care of our environment, they also have a responsibility to society to refuse to make available materials that we know are dangerous and harmful to society. I realize that this can be seen as the "slippery slope". And I agree that it is very hard for a company to know where to draw a line as to what is appropriate and inappropriate. But I don't think you will find much room for argument that pedophilia is acceptable. Selling pictures of naked children/how-to books for those who wish to abuse children is wrong. We all know it. It's not up for debate except among those like the author who wish to make such practices legal.
I don't propose Amazon begin arbitrarily removing books because they deem them inappropriate. I would suggest that, like most libraries, Amazon develop a policy regarding the content they sell. I realize that there are many risks involved in deeming materials unfit for selling. But I would like to see Amazon say that they are willing to take on those risks and start determining as a company what they will and will not sell based on their responsibilities to society and their customers. We would all be appalled to learn that a company dumped toxic waste into our rivers, right? I think we should be equally appalled and angry that Amazon is dumping the toxic waste of pedophilia and child pornography into our communities. I'm angry about it - angry enough that I can't sit back and do nothing. So as much as I love using Amazon and as convenient as it is, I'm done supporting them. I've started a personal letter writing campaign and I'm encouraging others I know to do the same. And I'll be telling everyone I know how angry I am and exactly why I won't support Amazon's blatant disregard for a very serious social problem.
Next month's question: We got really serious with December's question. Let us go back to the lighter side. How would you encourage a non-reader to read? I have this problem with my little brother. He thinks reading is for girls. I disagree. What are everyone's thoughts on the matter? Email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries are open until Jan. 19.