Amazon.com and censorship. Amazon, for a time was carrying an ebook on their kindle platform, the title of which was "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct." Now, I have not read the book, have no desire to read the book, but what is interesting to me is the whole issue of censorship. The question, should Amazon carry this book?
After an initial outcry, Amazon refused to pull the title, claiming, "Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable." Therefore, Amazon was setting itself up as the defender of free speech. Since then, Amazon has relinquished this role under pressure of boycott and has pulled the title from their digital shelves.
So, has Amazon transgressed a moral code and caved in to pressure, now playing the role of a censor? I don't think so. Amazon is a business with the goal of making money. Should they carry a product that may hurt their business? Probably not. I suppose it depends on what they think their ultimate goal is. Is it to be the defender of free speech? If so, perhaps they should continue to carry the title, and every other title for that matter, and run the risk of losing business. If not, then pulling the title was the proper move.
Yet, even so, I do not see this as Amazon crushing free speech. The author has a right to his views, no matter how reprehensible. The author has a right to commit these views to print, to self publish the work, and to try and find buyers. That is free speech. Yet the author has no right to require that his work be published by a press. The author has no right to demand that his book be carried by any given bookseller.
What I find perhaps most interesting and ironic in this whole matter is the fact that the few people who actually raised objections to the book probably gave the book more publicity and readership than it ever would have had if it were just left quietly on the roles at Amazon.com. Had they not threatened boycott and got the press all worked up, the book would have been doomed to obscurity, as so many books are. Yet, with their vehement protests, the book now has a national audience, and probably enough curious readers who will purchase the book elsewhere.