Amazon is selling a self-published book defending pedophiles, sparking discussions about the retailer's obligation to vet items before they are sold in its online stores, and threats of boycott from Amazon customers if the book is not removed.
The book, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct" by Philip R. Greaves II, offers advice to pedophiles afraid of becoming the center of retaliation. It is an electronic book available for Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle e-reader.
The author's description (misspellings included) reads:
"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."
Amazon issued a statement that will no doubt fuel the outraged comments multiplying on the "Pedophile's Guide" Amazon page. "Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable," it reads. "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."
As a private company, Amazon has the right to sell whatever it wants as long as it's legal, and as such, offers books that cater to Holocaust deniers and other hate groups, as well as graphic dog fighting and cock fighting videos. Adult (legal) pornography, while available in book and magazine form, is not permitted in the Kindle e-reader store. This is possibly because of its iTunes partnership with the notoriously porn-free Apple which removed both "Ulysses" and the "Kama Sutra" from its own book store.
A customer review on the "Pedophile's Guide" Amazon page written by "Outraged Mother" reads, "The line of immorality is at best a zone with ill defined boundaries. Whatever. This crosses into the unsavory and shameful side of the zone. Take it down."
"There is a point when, even though a company has a no-censorship policy, that selling certain books is simply wrong," reads "Disgusting Abomination," another customer review. "Not censoring is one thing, and I commend that, but choosing to sell this book on a site that accessed by millions of people (including children) daily is reprehensible. This is a disgusting choice you have made, Amazon. Whatever money you are making off this book can't be worth the ire you are receiving for selling it."
In an unexplained turn of events, more than 103 customer reviews populated the "Pedophile's Guide" page earlier today, when news first broke about the book's availability, but dropped down to less than 30 by late afternoon. The number of reviews has since grown to over 60.
As news and outrage about the book spread, the first (presumed) Internet jokester chimed in with "A fantastic guide," the first five star review:
"I can't thank Amazon enough for keeping this great work of literature up for those of us with 'special tastes.' The instructions and images in the guide were extremely insightful and led to a wonderful experience for both myself and my partner. Thank you for protecting free speech, Amazon!"
In 2002, Amazon.com cited the First Amendment as justification for offering another book that advocates adult-child sex, "Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers," by David L. Riegel. Further, the paperback book is still available on the site.
At that time, Amazon stated, "Our goal is to support freedom of expression and to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any title they might be seeking."
An Amazon employee emphasized that "Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers" was "not a 'how-to' manual for molesting children. The author simply expresses his point of view about what he feels are misunderstood."
"Pedophile's Guide" has also triggered mounting outrage on Twitter and beyond. A chorus of Twitter users is calling for Amazon to pull the book, and a campaign to push the hashtag #BoycottAmazon into Twitter's top trends is underway.
A keyword search for "Amazon" on the microblogging network reveals a growing number of retweets featuring Amazon's contact info and urges to keep calling and e-mailing "until the book is removed."
Associated Press contributed to this report.