The roar of the Internet, the smell of the torches. And pitchforks.

So, by now you’ve all heard about Amazon selling a book geared toward pedophiles and the resulting hubbub, right? No? Well, thank goodness I’m here. Let’s start at the beginning…

So, by now you’ve all heard about Amazon selling a book geared toward pedophiles and the resulting hubbub, right? No? Well, thank goodness I’m here. Let’s start at the beginning.

On Wednesday of last week, a well-known blogger got wind of the fact that Amazon.com had a sort of how-to guide for pedophiles listed in its Kindle store. The electronic book, The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-lover’s Code of Conduct, by Philip R. Greaves II, went on sale on October 28 and cost $4.79 to download.

The product description, as posted on the site:

“My attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] 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.”

You can see why it’s so controversial. The spelling, right?

Both the blog world and Twitter developed a case of The Outrage and caught fire like an ant under a magnifying glass. Then the mainstream media came calling. That was like putting an Oprah’s Book Club sticker on the front of the virtual work.

In the nearly two weeks it had been for sale, the book had sold only one copy. But, then, Internet magic. If they’re not bandwagoning to save an ill child, they’re mobbing to rid the world of offensive material… and really boosting sales of said material. The book moved onto Amazon’s Bestseller list, working its way from #158,221 to #96 and garnering a few thousand negative “reviews” on the site. That’s a lot of attention to heap on something that most people want to go away. It’s like putting rocket fuel into Denzel’s runaway train, hoping the movie will end sooner.

And the book’s author doesn’t mind that rocket fuel one bit. Nor is he shying away from the media saying, “To a certain extent I wanted that kind of notoriety to affect the book. … I wanted it to effect [sic] sales.”

Well, duh. I’m pretty sure George W. Bush feels the same way right about now.

And Philip R. Greaves II has two MORE books listed on Amazon. The first, A Government Of Service To All: A Free Country Of Free People carries the obviously self-penned overview “A discripeion [sic] of the political realities that influence us all, including the right to gay marriage,the right of convicts to vote, the importance of the 14 amendment to our national constitution, and the value of the eighth amendment also.” The other, The Grand Delusion: What’s “God” Got To Do With It?, is described by the author as “An examination of man and his many notions of “God” with an aim toward disproving the existence of any universal intelengence [sic] of omnipotent creator.”

You guys! “Intelegence”!

I’m not saying that someone being a poor speller or desperately in need of an editor makes them less of a threat; I am saying that this was a way of giving someone who probably would not have had much of an audience the entire media for a day.

At first, Amazon stood their ground, responding to a concerned email with the following:

“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.”

Brave. Even though their own content guidelines state that “pornography, offensive material and titles which may lead to… illegal activity” are prohibited. Slippery slope, that pornography/offensive material thing. One person’s healthy bowel movement is another person’s pornography and goodness knows that there are people who choose to be offended by all sorts of things. “Illegal activity”, though, thankfully, is pretty clear-cut. Is it against the law? Then it’s against content guidelines.

Except The Anarchist Cookbook, a how-to guide to making bombs, is still for sale on Amazon.com while The Pedophile’s Guide is not. That’s right, the book has been pulled. For now. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong that Amazon caved to public pressure, I’m just saying that a little consistency would be nice. Perhaps they should add “…unless people are really, really mad. We mean ‘Dr. Phil talks about it on his show’ mad” to their guidelines.

So, the mob got what they wanted. Even though, with many of the incensed I encountered, they weren’t so much as offended, themselves, as offended that others were offended. Like a giant, downhill-rolling snowball made of other people’s shit. I believe this mentality is best summed up in the customer review just posted on one of Greaves’s other books, calling for Amazon to “Ban this author completely”. The thing is, I have a few friends who are survivors of pedophilia and basically they all said the same thing: “Stop giving credence to the crazy.” We have to ask ourselves who are we offended for?

A search for the book at Amazon.com now results in a 404 error and it has been replaced at #96 on the Amazon Bestseller list by Ken Follett’s A Dangerous Fortune. Ken Follett! SEE WHAT YOU DID, INTERNET?! Now I’m the one who’s mad. I think I’ll pen my outrage and throw it on Kindle for a few bucks. But you’d better believe I’m going to use spell check.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Reedy Creeker on said:

    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I am offended for myself. And I am one of the people who wrote to Amazon to have the book removed.

  2. B Roman on said:

    You’re a bad writer for not explaining what on earth you (and your friends) meant by “Stop giving credence to the crazy.”

    It is irresponsible and dangerous to do anything that legitimizes and encourages child molestation. And Amazon selling this book on its website does exactly that.

    You may think that by being so loud and vehement with our protests, we are making the book well-known and bringing it to the attention of would-be pedophiles out there. I disagree. I’m pretty sure most would-be pedophiles spend a fair amount of time on the internet and have access to this kind of material all the time. The existence of this how-to guide on the web is not shocking. What is shocking is that Amazon would choose to give it “credence.” It’s vitally important that we as a society send a clear message that despite what pedophiles would like to think (that they are just loving children), acts of pedophilia are nothing more than child rape. To send any other message is to have proverbial blood on your hands when another child is molested. I don’t think you understand much about pedophiles and their illness, maybe you shouldn’t be writing an article like this.

  3. I swear, I’m not being antagonistic, I just really want to know and I think it will bring an interesting/relevant point to the conversation:

    Following that logic, B Roman (and those who share his/her opinion), do you think Amazon should also stop selling copies of Lolita, Pretty Baby, and the like? Yes, they are works of fiction, but all involve sexual relationships between minors and adults.

  4. B Roman on said:

    Valerie –

    No, I don’t have a problem with those books/movies because there is a clear distinction between showing a crime being committed in a fictional world versus encouraging real-life crimes to be committed.

    Lolita and Pretty Baby don’t encourage people to rape children anymore than movies like American Psycho and shows like the Sopranos encourage people to commit murder. At no point in Lolita or Pretty Baby are the acts of pedophilia held up as positive activities that we all should be engaged in. The Pedophile’s Guide is encouraging people to commit these acts in real life and telling them there is nothing wrong with it.

    I was never personally abused, but I have had interactions with a pedophile. The most insidious aspect of pedophiles is that they often appear normal and harmless and are the last people you would expect of hurting children. Their disguise is so good because they themselves believe in their own innocence. They don’t think that molesting children actually hurts those children. The last thing we need is someone like Amazon telling them they are right.

  5. Rob Sterling on said:

    “The volunteer fire department is usually about as bad as the fire.” – Isabel Paterson

  6. November is officially Child Rape Month, brought to you by Amazon. And the ghost of Michael Jackson.

  7. lindsey on said:

    ugh. i typed a big long response to b roman and then i got tired of it and deleted the whole thing.

    i don’t think you understand much about voicing your opinion without unkindly bashing others for no reason; maybe you shouldn’t be commenting on an article like this. (that semicolon is a correction for your comma splice. you’re welcome!)

    please be nice.

  8. Nandalal Rasiah on said:

    I understand why Amazon initially refused to pull the book–corporations are loathe to admit mistakes and especially so when the mistake seems obvious; i don’t buy the “we don’t do censorship” line because they have pulled copies for ‘national security’ reasons before.

    that said, “The Outrage” is an apt description for community-wide eruptions of moral majority hulk-smashing–very similar to how Richmond reacts when Rev Phelps comes to town.

    That, however, is unlikely to change. America is a country of both risk-takers and those so averse to risk that their nether sphincters remain ever on the edge of a violent contraction. Guess which group votes, makes indignant phone calls to their congresscritter and signals solidarity via public protest?

  9. grammar point on said:

    “To a certain extent I wanted that kind of notoriety to affect the book. … I wanted it to effect [sic] sales.”

    Intentional or not, this actually seems to be one of those rare cases where effect is properly used as a verb.

  10. Nilla on said:

    “America is a country of both risk-takers and those so averse to risk that their nether sphincters remain ever on the edge of a violent contraction. ”

    Well done, you!

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