Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Censor or Not To Censor, that is the question

Amazon faced a bruhaha the last few days after allowing a self-published book teaching pedophiles how to treat children and if caught, get a 'liter' (spelling mistake is the author of said self published book) criminal sentence. Should a company censor the books it distributes or publishes? Is Amazon liable for not censoring a book extolling criminal behavior? To censor or not to censor, that is the question.

People called for Amazon to remove it. Amazon took the position that they don't involve themselves in censorship. They don't judge the contents. Sounds laudable on the one hand, because we value freedom of speech. But should not society censor things that bring harm to innocent victims? Should we eschew books that promote the violation of children and criminal acts?

Should we not, as a society, require ourselves to uphold the law and not expound the benefits of being a criminal? Yes, there are books that talk about murder, but should Amazon be allowed to promote a book that honors the murderer and gives ways to get a lighter sentence?

Are not pedophiles murdering the lives of innocent children, by destroying their self images, their sense of security and their ability to have normal relationships?

Sadly, I know of no study that suggests that pedophiles are curable.

I've spoken with those, who admit the wrong and wish they had control over their own desires instead of the desires controlling them. I've also met and talked with individuals, whose amoral positions had me at an utter loss for words.

How do you appeal to a mind that has no common denominator in what is right or wrong?

Regardless of which kind these perpetrators are, society has an obligation--an imperative--to protect children.

We have failed miserably as a global society.

It calls to mind a statement of Jesus that is quoted in three books in the NT.

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." (quoting from the King James Version for copyright issue. Another contemporary version here.)

For a very long time, society has failed to protect children, who until 1964, were considered property without legal rights. The first civil law protecting children from abuse was enacted. (Perhaps you, of other countries, know of some law that my sociology book did not know when it made the statement.)

It's a sad commentary that there were no protections until 1964. It's a sadder commentary that a protection is required.

Reminds me of the European couple visiting New York who parked their pram with a sleeping baby outside a cafe and went inside to eat. They were arrested for child neglect.

They were shocked that there were such laws since in their country, leaving the pram outside for the duration was not considered neglect. There, no one kidnapped babies there for horrible crimes against the innocent. If a baby cried in their country, some stranger would have assumed the parents were eating inside and would have popped their head in and notified them.

Obviously from a kinder gentler nation than the USA where crime abounds.

Amazon removed the book.

Not from any moral high ground, but because of the sheer number of protesters boycotting its site. While I am grateful they took if off, I am distressed that they didn't until the groundswell of consumers impacted their sales.

I too will think before I buy from Amazon again. If I can buy a book elsewhere, I will try to do so. I don't want to give my business to a company who cannot make the right choice until it hits it in the pocketbook.


Sandra Patterson said...

I suspect we will see more cases like this as epublishing becomes more widespread. When you have a situation where anyone can publish anything with virtually no accountability then every crank and weirdo will take a punt. The internet itself seems awash with questionable material freely available and policing it isn't going to be straightforward.

james.pyles said...

Child molestation and rape isn't a lifestyle, it's a crime. It doesn't deserve free speech protection. This book is one I would definitely burn.