One in six American men were sexually abused as children or in their youth.
That is a staggering statistic, which was discussed at length during a two-part Oprah Winfrey Show landmark presentation that brought together an in-studio audience of 200 men who had been abused. They had “come together to speak their truth,” and to encourage those males you are still being victimized, as well as male survivors of sexual abuse.
I was in the midst of preparing a post about this series, when a startling controversy overtook Amazon.com’s Kindle e-book department: A book that tries to present pedophilia in a more positive light!
"The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct" was pulled from Amazon.com, a spokesman confirmed yesterday, after thousands of users posted angry comments and even threats to boycott the site if the book remained on sale.
The self-published e-book, by Phillip R. Greaves II, was available on the site for download until late Wednesday for $4.79.
Greaves told news outlets that he published "The Pedophile's Guide" to address what he considers unfair portrayals of pedophiles in the media.
Before I present more information about the controversy, I believe it’s vital to point out that Greaves himself was a victim of sexual abuse by an “older female” when he was 7, and that he sexually abused a youngster when he was a teen. Most therapists who treat sexual abuse victims say that they may develop a variety of coping mechanisms, and that they are also at much greater risks to become pedophiles.
If our society is to ever stop the sexual abuse of its children, of both sexes, we must stop blaming the victims, even ones who write material that most of us find extremely offensive. It may be, that Greaves wrote this book to rationalize what happened to him, and the impulses he had and may still have to see children as sexually appealing.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, I find the "Guide" totally repugnant, but I urge compassion and not condemnation of Greaves.
In its product description, Greaves described it as, "my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] 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 [sic] sentences should they ever be caught," he said.
Greaves, 47, from Pueblo, Colorado, claimed that “true pedophiles love children and would never hurt them.”
He said he believed it was possible “to have a loving, sexual relationship with a child.”
Greaves told news outlets that he has not had sexual contact with a child as an adult, but did when he was a teenager. He also said he "was introduced to oral sex when I was 7" by an older female, but did not provide specifics.
After several big tech blogs wrote about the book, it raced into Amazon's Top 100 Bestsellers list before it was pulled.
Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener would not comment on the controversy or respond to questions about the company's guidelines for digital publication, nor would he comment on Amazon’s decision to reverse its decision and pull the book.
On Wednesday, Amazon defended selling the book in response to a report published on BusinessInsider.com., issuing the following statement:
"Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. 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.”
But the company was forced to reverse it’s stance after continued outrage demading it pull the book by U.S. and U.K. customers, as well as a growing protest on Facebook, Twitter, and even on its own site from disgusted customers threatening a boycott.
Now, the FBI is said to be investigating to determine whether the electronic book contains any illegal content. It was pulled from the Amazon site two weeks after it was published.
“It is deeply worrying that books like this, which could encourage adults to commit sex offences against children, are in circulation,” said Chris Cloke of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. “They are abhorrent.”
The company, which allows authors to submit their own works and shares revenue with them, issues guidelines banning certain materials, including those deemed offensive.
However, Amazon doesn't elaborate precisely what constitutes offensive content, saying simply that it is “probably what you would expect.”
Amazon also doesn't promise to remove or protect any one category of books.
In reaction to Amazon's statement, one blogger said: “These pathetic statements Amazon made absolutely disgusted me to the core. Amazon you most certainly did support and promote hatred and criminal acts as you allowed this ‘author’ to have a forum to sell and promote this product, this hideous book geared towards the victimization of innocent children since October! SHAME ON YOU AMAZON.COM!!!!!”
Before it disappeared from the site Wednesday night, the listing had more than 2,000 user comments. The vast majority of them condemned the book's stated content, as well as Amazon's decision to make it available.
"It is ILLEGAL to molest children, and for Amazon to promote such is insane. I'm an abuse survivor, and am OUTRAGED Amazon would choose to promote this nonsense. I will not be purchasing anything from your website until this is removed," one user wrote in a comment that summed up the feelings of many others.
A small contingent of Amazon.com users defended the author's right to free speech, and a discussion on the site titled "Why Amazon is Right" delved into the constitutional implications of the controversy. Others floated the possibility that the e-book was a hoax or a law enforcement trap for pedophiles.
"While I think 99.9 percent of us object to pedophilia (even though I think this particular book was a publicity stunt/joke), I think we can all agree that we don't want someone else censoring a subject matter that we may be interested in. Religion, atheism, homosexuality, etc. are some subjects that spring to mind ...and they have been censored in the past until we realized that it's best to let all information in (even if we don't like some of it), rather than allow some authority or individual decide what we can and can't know about based on their own opinions or motivations," one user wrote.
In its form as a written piece, "The Pedophile's Guide" is protected under the First Amendment right to free speech, a CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin said.
Child pornography is illegal as images. But text, which can be considered "works of advocacy," has won protection in the courts under the First Amendment, Toobin said.
"There is an argument that some works of advocacy are incitement, but the courts have been very, very narrow in interpreting that as a crime," Toobin said. "I think this one is well safe under the protection of the First Amendment."
I, too, believe that this book is protected under the free speech provision of the First Amendment. But, I believe that just because material can be legally published, does not mean that it HAS to be sold by a book seller. Amazon should have turned this book down – end of story.
Each and every day publishers decide what to sell and not to sell based on content, quality and commercial potential. I think by looking at this issue through the lens of the First Amendment is to miss the point. Greaves has every right to write and publish his own book; and booksellers have every right to sell it or not.
I sincerely hope that Greaves will not be vilified, but will instead be offered voluntary professional psychological help for his serious sexual issues.
— The Curator