I was on Twitter, as I usually am, and saw someone RT a link to a book being sold on Amazon. The book is called: The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure and its description says:
This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian 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 sentences should they ever be caught.
My first reaction was that of revulsion and I not only RT the link with a “I have no words” attached to it, I also wrote and I admit it, without thinking about what I was saying:
Seriously @Amazon? YOU NEED TO REMOVE THIS FROM YOUR SITE http://amzn.to/9SKcJi
Which is of course an attempt at book banning.
Needless to say, madness ensued and we got hundreds of @ replies who shared the feelings of disgust and who retweeted the request to pull the book off Amazon.
There were also quite a few replies who questioned the request on the grounds that censorship should never be encouraged even if the content of a book is disgusting and reprehensible. The ensuing conversation was not only interesting but also eye opening. Because I have always, always seen myself as someone who would never EVER condone book banning or censorship on any grounds, there I was facing a very uncomfortable truth about myself: a line I never ever thought I would cross and yet I did, in a heartbeat.
And it is something REALLY hard for me to reconcile with. On one hand, I think that Amazon should be able to sell the book, even in its incredibly bad taste (to put it very mildly). Because the problem is that objecting to the book based on content is dangerous ground and it sets a precedent. Amazon isn’t an arbiter of taste. They aren’t judging and vetting everything; they simply are a platform. If we start saying certain books can’t be sold because of their content, why wouldn’t people be able to ban books about homosexuality, for example? Because to some people, it’s unnatural and disgusting and morally reprehensible, just like this book is to me.
On the other hand, I consider this book to be not only offensive but also criminally so. It says right there in the description itself: it teaches people to get around doing something that is against the law. And against children. How can I not see red when I read this? How can I not want to remove this book from the shelves and deny its very existence?
And here is yet another problem: I have not actually read the book in question, only its description of content. I am doing exactly what I MOST hate about book banners who want to discuss without even having the FULL information on what they want to ban.
This book is NOT pretty. But neither is my reaction to it.