Parents Take A Stand is a non-profit organisation, set up to campaign against the promotion of materials which advocate illegal behavior, particularly illegal acts against children. The founders Kimberly Fritze DonVito, Debbie Tortorigi, and Audrey Watters Holden, began as an open group on Facebook, calling for a blanket boycott of Amazon until the book “The Pedophile’s Guide” and books like it had been removed. Amazon have not been at all forthcoming as to the quantity and titles of such books on their site, so unfortunately it is up to the group and it’s left to parents and group members (every rational adult for that matter) to search them out and keep watch in order to protect our children. The point is we shouldn’t have to watch and search a mainstream retailer for material of this sort; explicit material which can be found in seconds and ordered with no form of age restriction on its purchase. If Amazon refuse to market porn then they should certainly not be allowing the sale of THIS through the site. In the last week, and it’s come to light that America’s largest online retailer has been selling and profiting for some time from not only one book, but others as well, which promoted illegal acts against children and attempted to make those acts and behaviors seem normal. It was also discovered that in doing so, Amazon has already violated two of its own content guidelines.
With the recent discovery that Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN) has allowed the publication of several titles which promote and advocate the normalcy of adult-child sexual relationships then subsequently removed those titles (several still remain) through the insistence and efforts of PTAS, we insist that the retailers who offer a platform for self-publishing adhere to their own content guidelines:
- Establishing and maintaining a review process whereby this material is flagged beforehand and removed from publishing and e-reader platforms.
- If the retailer refuses to remove material that promotes the normalcy of adult-child sexual relationships and the sexual exploitation of children, we will boycott the retailer which may include the following:
- Boycotting the retailer.
- Organizing demonstrations of the retailer.
- Mobilization of our members throughout the world to spread the word that the retailer is selling and profiting from this material.
- Contacting press and media outlets worldwide.
- Contacting any affiliate retail companies and boycotting their stores and businesses.
In my hunt I discovered a book I heard about through Angie the AntiTheist, by Michael and Debi Pearl. “How To Train up A Child” is an in-depth manual and on corporal punishment and brainwashing that goes a long way past the borders of extreme and into outright physical torture and abuse of dependent minors. While it does not teach adults how to sexually assault children it does provide a horrific insight into another form of abuser. If it was not bad enough, the Pearls describe using that ‘parenting’ method not only on their own 5 children but on other children too. Add this to the fact that we know that at least one child has already died due to her parents following the instructions in this book.
As much as Amazon and other retailers have a right to protect what they view as the freedom of speech of their authors who self-publish via Kindle, e-reader and self-publishing platforms, consumers also have a right to boycott (and promote that boycott) a retailer who sells something which promote the most heinous of crimes against those who are most vulnerable; our children. We have a right to speak against them because freedom of speech goes both ways. PTAS and their members intend to keep raising efforts to let retailers across the United States know that we will not support any company that, profits from any material which condones or advocates illegal behaviour, or promotes illegal acts against children.
The recent uproar surrounding Amazon.com and their overseas areas of .co.uk, .de, and .fr, has sparked controversy. Controversy that disturbingly enough has centred around their defensive remark that it is their right to sell what they please. Amazon claim they do not censor but this is not true. They do not sell, or allow to be sold through their market place, pornography but this is not an anti porn post. It is not about the restriction of publications aimed at, featuring, and solely for the use of consenting adults. You can go to specialist shops for adult literature if you so choose but even those shops have restrictions and may not sell illegal images or anything of a sexual nature involving or concerning children. It is definitely not okay to promote and condone the sexual abuse of children. Being gentle doesn’t mitigate the act. It does not alleviate any of the psychological trauma suffered by the child. To abuse a child in that manner is to take away their innocence and bring an arbitrary end to their childhood. Amazon has now removed some of the books from the site but others remain.
“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.” – Description of A Pedophile’s Guide ( complete with spelling mistakes)
The outrage from parents has been met with a wave of people (presumably not parents) defending Amazon’s listing of this item and supporting the right of Amazon to sell it. While the advocates of Amazon claim that removing this ‘objectionable material’ would set a precedent for other groups to place pressure to remove other titles they deem obscene or controversial, citing Lolita by Vladīmir Vladimirovich Nabokov(a fiction novel, which was never intended to be a reference book or guide for carrying out illegal acts), books about evolution (not joking, some have actually cited these) and books by holocaust deniers as equivalent. Firstly, one is a fictitious narrative. Secondly, neither holocaust denial, atheism or the study of evolution are illegal acts of abuse against children.
One Professor Kincaid, professor of English at the University of Southern California and author of Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting, wishes to get rid of the ‘paranoia and hysteria’ around the threat of child molesting and presents something he describes as ‘evidence’ that ALL adults are somewhat sexually attracted to children, but loath to admit it. He believes that if we (the royal ‘we’) all just admitted our attraction and stopped treating it like a sick perversion we could live in a saner, less fearful environment. Kincaid also blames society for turning the ‘sexualisation’ of children into an invented disease. Far from blaming the victim, he blames the protectors of the children. Parents who in knowing that such people are preying on their children and become desperate to protect them are the problem in his eyes, not the people who actually commit the abuse. I may read this title myself (but still won’t be buying from Amazon). This is not marketed as a guide to paedophiles, how to touch children, or get away with a crime. It is written (although poorly, considering the reviews) as an examination of society. It’s contents may be objectionable, but consider that while one title promotes an illegal act, the other examines why it has become illegal and unacceptable. He believes that society at large has invented the concept of the innocence of children and in so doing have declared a war to eradicate non-existent crimes. Objectionable? To me, yes. Distasteful? Certainly by western standards. Promoting an illegal act and attempting to provide mitigating circumstances? No.
Recommended with this book is Harmful to Minors by Judith Levine. It examines the relationships between teenagers. Noted in the review is the mention of the trend which pathologises erotic play between children and the book criticises the mainstream for it’s growing lean toward abstinence-only sexual education programmes which do not work. Sexual education is also a difficult subject for some but for the most part it arms children and teenagers with the information they need to make informed and safe choices so legitimate books on the subject also deserve protection. The retinue of recognised literature on safe sex-education does not go into graphic detail let alone tell adults the correct way to abuse a child or that those feelings and impulses are ‘normal’ despite the ‘prudish’ attitudes of the majority. The abstinence only version does not help teenagers recognise an adult predator, help them know what to do if they are assaulted or approached by and adult, or teach them that their instincts and attraction to their peers are normal and how to deal with them. Instead it teaches them that their own urges are wrong and that they are dirty for having them. Abstinence only sex education places them in MORE danger NOT less. Arming teenagers with information is one thing, but how do you arm a child under ten without terrifying them? Or even a non-verbal toddler?
The former is difficult, the latter impossible which is why parents are granted power of veto over what their children are exposed to and are responsible for ensuring a safe environment for their child who is not mentally, physically or emotionally equipped to defend themselves from sexual advances from adults or even older children (The James Bulger case ring any bells?). This considered, I’m sure those anti/non-Amazon-Boycotters can now understand why this book The Paedophiles Guide, and books like it which advise paedophiles on ways to go about and hide their activities, make parenting so much harder.
The condoning and promotion of illegal acts by any significant number of people, under a duplicitous and over-used guise of ‘freedom’ render not just the activity difficult to detect and prevent this behaviour, because it distracts from solving the problem, but in turn causes an unjustified backlash of negative attitude against the parents trying to protect their children from predators. Protecting people’s ‘right to write’ this material and enforcing a ‘blame the victim culture’ (a rationale used by perpetrator to justify their behaviour) is going to result in our children no longer being safe to leave their houses to play with their friends in the streets. If harm comes to them, society will blame the parents’ poor choice of allowing their children any unsupervised time. I can’t be the only one who sees something intensely disturbing with the idea of a culture devoid of trust, compassion, and empathy. A world in which we distrust our neighbours and family members on the unproven grounds of what they might be capable of and conflated with the fact that personal freedoms equate to an unlimited free-for-all with no pre-course to protect the vulnerable, and to the point where social codes have entirely broken down.
The argument that the sale of these books will alert authorities of who buys it is a ridiculous notion. Various laws which protect people’s right to privacy, also mean that you cannot be arrested or even considered under suspicion of committing a crime for buying a book which has not been banned. The last time I checked, we were not living in a society where we could be investigated for buying a book from a legitimate retailer and as well it should be. This is a good thing for I would hate to live in a world where every move is scrutinised and you are guilty until proven innocent. This freedom of not having our purchasing habits spied on is extended to all of us. When that stops, so does freedom.
What’s next, Amazon? “Who to sell heroin to in school playgrounds, without getting caught”? Or maybe “The Libertarian Objectiveist’s Guide to Child Prostitution“? These are both made up titles, but there IS a line over which one can cross and Greaves, aided by both his publisher and Amazon, has done so. For now, all that is in question is how many decency laws have been contravened. While there is no proof that Greaves has committed any crime of this sort, his face is now at least very well-known to the public and I very much doubt that local parents will be allowing him any access to their children. Why should they take the risk?
First amendment rights are not designed to enable or encourage any illegal act. There is a line that even millions of shades of grey over what constitutes objectionable material should not cross. That line is the narrow divide between description and instruction. As objectionable as the Kincaid book might be, and as unlikely as I am to agree with him, his book is not condoning child abuse so much as it argues what it is, and examines where it comes from. He is in all probability completely wrong in is assumptions and assertions but he IS protected by first amendment rights. This is the sort of book (a sociological and historical examination) which deserves and needs the protection of the First Amendment, due to the delicacy of the subject matter. ‘Joy of Sex’ type guide books on how adults should approach sexual relationships with children, do NOT deserve such privilege. The world does not work on absolutes. The the government did not ban Greaves’ book, the customers of Amazon requested that the book was not sold by them, and the members of the boycott are not only well within their rights not to buy the book, but to not shop with Amazon at all until they remove those books and implement and effective and efficient screening and moderating process.
The First Amendment does NOT protect:
- Fighting words (legitimate threats)
- Obscenity (as stated in a congressional release: “No actual harm, let alone compelling governmental interest, need be shown in order to ban it.”)
- Child Pornography (“It is unprotected by the First Amendment even when it is not obscene”)
- Incitement to Violence or Criminal Behaviour (“advocacy of the use of force or of law violation”)
- Time, Place, Manner Restrictions (For instance, you can’t hand out religious pamphlets in an airport because it impedes the movement of people and harms the business)
- Defamation (libel is written defamation, slander is oral defamation… it must be FALSE to qualify as defamation)
- Speech that is Harmful to Minors (“there is a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors” An example of this is movie ratings… a kid can’t be let in to a rated R movie, even though it is legal for an adult to see it with no hassle)
- Hateful Speech (can’t burn a cross publicly, for example)
To make a long story short… The First Amendment does NOT apply to Amazon’s pedophile books. Every time Amazon uses the “First Amendment rights” defence, they obviously have no idea how the law works. They jump in feet first to defend individual freedom with absolutely NO consideration of the personal responsibility which is the now unspoken of cost of that right. That same sort of people are the first to shout about personal responsibility when for instance, somebody claims for damages against the local council over a fall caused by unsafe paving. That right is granted with the qualification that it is used with discretion and due consideration of the effect it may have on others. True freedom requires its user to take responsibility and accept accountability of what that speech or act will have on others. ‘Hate speech’ is a phrase that has been bandied about so much that it has now lost all meaning and is now used to describe the words of people who even so much as disagree or criticise another group or practice.
The pro-paedophillia books can be seen as:
- Fighting Words: A threat in a sense, because it encourages paedophiles and attempts to justify the behaviour.
- Obscenity: for obvious reasons… it describes sexual encounters with children.
- Child Porn: Same as above. Descriptions count. Point out to those who claim it’s ‘just a book‘, that so are the bible and the qur’an.
- Incitement: It’s basically telling pedophiles how to operate in effective secrecy, and that it will provide mitigating circumstances IF they get caught.
- Time/Place/Manner: It shouldn’t be on a website that can be accessed and used by children, and is used by families… it’s just not appropriate.
- Defamation: Can’t really be seen as defamation, though it does say bad things about the media and government. Of course, he’s a paedophile and he’s going to have a dim view world who see this act as despicable as the people who commit it and so try to rationalise their actions. Why would somebody who rightly views the principles behind this book disgusting, ever write or publish such a thing?
- Harmful to Minors: OBVIOUSLY we don’t want our children having relationships with adults. No amount of rationalising adults pursuing a sexual/romantic relationship with children is ever going to make it acceptable.
- Hateful Speech: same as #6