Boycott Watch  
November 11, 2010
Pedophilia Book Sparks Boycott
Summary: Amazon first protected the book, and then caved. Boycotters won their battle in a matter of hours. Amazon needs to fire people, and fast.
    Fox News Channel was first to report has "an e-book entitled "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure," and shocked consumers across the nation now are calling for a boycott of the online retail giant" both on their television network and on their website.

    Their report is based on outraged consumers over the $4.79 Kindle edition book which been on Amazon's website for about two weeks. Since the report aired, several websites and blogs condemning Amazon have appeared, and there is a Facebook page titled "!!!Boycott for Selling How Guide for pedophile" which has quickly grown in popularity.

    In a Fox News interview, the author said he was not a pedophile but wanted to give pedophiles a way to, and we paraphrase, 'conduct their illegal activity legally.' According to Fox News, Amazon had posted the following statement: "Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable" and "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." Both the press release and book were removed from the website before 11AM Eastern the same day.

    Amazon has a self-publishing system which allows anyone to post and sell almost anything they have written, yet publishing does not guarantee sales. Considering the number of submissions gets daily, it is impossible for that company to check everything submitted. Boycott Watch, however, finds their press release disturbing. While we agree about censorship being objectionable, there are still limits to free speech as identified in the US Supreme Court ruling which states you cannot just yell fire in a crowded theater.

    In this case though, the item in question may violate Amazon's own guidelines:
"Pornography. Pornography; X-rated movies; home porn; hard-core material, including magazines, that depict graphic sexual acts; amateur porn; soiled undergarments; sexual aid devices; and "adult-only" novelty items that are primarily sold through adult-only novelty stores and erotic boutiques are not permitted. Unrated erotic videos and DVDs and properly censored erotic artwork and magazines of the type you'd find at a typical bookstore are permitted. Nudity, graphic titles, and descriptions must be sufficiently concealed with censor strips on all items containing such content."

    Boycott Watch offers lessons from this case: This is more than just a matter of free speech. Boycott Watch did not read the book nor intends to, but the fact is that Amazon sells to anyone, including children. This item therefore may not only be used to instruct people how to conduct illegal, but it also poses multiple dangers to children. EBay, for example, has guidelines and restrictions for postings, and so should Amazon. Amazon should have been screening for illicit content and while no system is foolproof, the press release in response to consumer outrage by is simply ridiculous.

    The press release one of the best examples of a stupid response we have ever seen. The boycott started before Amazon issued their ridiculous press release for an item they should have caught with automatic flagging of keywords in titles before it was made available. That was two mistakes and we are happy to see finally did the right thing, but it is sad that it only happened after and in response to consumer outrage.

    This case does, however, show the power of boycotts since Amazon blinked and removed the offensive material, but only after the boycott was announced. At last check, has neither issued an apology; nor posted new guidelines; nor taken a course of action to prevent items such as this guide to raping children from their site. The boycott against therefore has merit and it is now up to Amazon to make amends, but that won't be easy. Just as pedophiles and other sex offenders never escape their past, Amazon will have to deal with this situation for a long time. For starters, needs to immediately fire everyone involved in the writing, approval and issuing of their press release.

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