Amazon.com is apparently selling just such a book (or three or four) online, and it's got the feathers of many a parent (legitimately) ruffled. Calls for a boycott have spread like wildfire through Facebook and Twitter (using #AmazonFail). And hundreds of thousands of people contacting the company through a variety of mechanisms are demanding they remove the book from their shelves.
A commenter on the original Business Insider article reported that Amazon's response was this:
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.And I have to say that I agree with Amazon.
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.
Yes, I am the mother of two 7-year-old children, the aunt to a beautiful niece and 2 gorgeous nephews, and the cousin and family friend to many many more. And yes, I temper every single day my fears and anxieties about the million-and-one things that can happen, and do happen to children in my town, in this country, in this world every minute of every day. And yes, I worry myself sick on occasion about what I would do, how I would deal, how I would ever survive if anything ever happened to someone that I know and love. Let alone, my own children.
Although I may find the content objectionable and incendiary and deplorable and even possibly criminal, I do firmly believe that we can not as a country begin to allow the censoring of books under these terms.
A handbook is not a necessity for the pedophile. And the absence of it won't lessen the instances of their attacks on our children, and certainly won't prevent them from "educating" themselves elsewhere.
But to demand that a public retail store remove something from their shelves that does not violate their stated policy or any laws, is absolutely and unequivocally censorship. And while there is a risk that this book may easily fall into the wrong hands (and, perhaps, even more so now that this boycott has called so much attention to it), the greater risk is that of becoming a society that condones the infringement of free speech, and the right of any retailer to make a buck off of it.
I won't even go into the slippery slope argument. But you can see it right there. Can of worms. Floodgates. And all.
It is, nonetheless, without a doubt your personal choice as to whether or not you continue to patronize such businesses, whether or not you choose to share your personal views with your friends and family, and whether or not you choose to read or purchase material that others may disagree with or find downright offensive. And that is a right that you have because so many have fought and died to defend it. And it is, therefore, a right that we ALL have in this country, pedophiles and online bookstores included. And it's certainly not one that I'm willing to waive.
So while it is inarguably reprehensible from my perspective that there is even a market for such filth (and I have to say that I haven't even actually read it, so I honestly can't speak objectively to its actual contents, only to my presumption based on the overheated responses), I would much rather have my children live in a land where I have the right to voice that opinion, where you have the right to spend your hard-earned dollars elsewhere, and where our children are afforded the opportunities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, than not.