Amazon Kindle 2 Wireless eBook Readerphoto © 2009 goXunuReviews | more info (via: Wylio)

When I first entered the Twitterverse, I learned quickly the value of the hashtag. The hashtag identifies a tweet with all sorts of others just like it—helps the tweeter to see what others have said on the subject. As I read my tweets today, one hashtag kept trending–#amazonfail. I thought nothing of it since I chalking the hashtag up to bad customer service; thus, allowing me to continue my Amazon shopping without much thought. But I was curious. Curious to see what the big “fail” was. Curious to see Amazon’s horrid sin that would cause such an uproar. So, before curiosity killed the proverbial cat, I began following the trend. In the self-published section of Amazon’s Kindle, a book detailing the safe ways to practice pedophilia is available for purchase. Yes, this is why a boycott of Amazon and the hashtag #amazonfail kept streaming through my Twitter feed. As mommy bloggers raise their collective voices against Amazon, I find myself at war between censorship and protecting the potential targets of pedophiles.

I dislike the thought of censorship because I am an advocate for free speech. But I have children and have friends with children. Somewhere, a child has suffered because someone followed the instructions in this ebook. This is where the tension lives for me—between the ability speak on subjects freely or protecting children. But free speech is a fickle creature that we have invented. Initially, freedom of speech protected us from our government’s silencing of its citizens—creating a discursive space in which we can openly discuss and disagree with government.

Now, a private company couches behind the freedom of speech amendment. Under free speech, Amazon defends its right to have published this book on pedophilia. Each customer should determine what he or she buys which negates the culpability of Amazon. Yet, the onslaught of negative reviews for this book were deemed inappropriate and removed. Amazon is not promoting free speech but free speech that protects the profits of Amazon. This interpretation of free speech blurs the lines between public sphere and private spheres. We hide behind the freedom of speech amendment when it suits our needs to make profit.

Even though I have spoken out against censorship, I believe more strongly in speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. For the children suffering in silence, for the potential victims. I know this is hypocritical, but I would rather err on the side of protecting innocents than always presenting a cohesive whole ideology. I choose to support other booksellers until Amazon takes this book off its website. Yes, this is a major #amazonfail.

15 thoughts on “#AmazonFail

  1. I am with you on the whole censorship vs free speech dilemma, and I even get the crummy legal grounds Amazon was trying to stand on. What really gets me is the poor application of ethics. Basically, this book (and I use the term loosely) openly admitted to a pro-pedophile stance (can’t believe I even had a reason to phrase that). Educating people about the causes of unacceptable, damaging behavior is one thing, trying to make it OK, however, is a gross violation of ethical conduct. I am happy to say that the so-called book has been pulled, but what is to stop future publications of this nature?

    1. My conscience would be far more damaged if I spoke up and defend this “author’s” writings rather than my children, other people’s children. I’m outraged, but not surprised that this book and others like it exist. Truly saddening.

  2. As a mom and a survivor I am completely outraged by this. I will never buy Amazon again regardless of wether they pull the book. Their business ethics are clear to me now.

  3. Thanks for posting this, Sarah, and for supporting the boycott! I am also a huge advocate of free speech and so forth, but this is just ridiculous! I am not an advocate for abortion or anything else that harms our children! No so-called business should help promote such horrible crimes either!

  4. In my opinion this isn’t censorship. True censorship is when government dictates what its citizens are able to see/read/hear/experience. Amazon is not government. They are a company. Companies have the right to set whatever limits or lack thereof they choose. I am not asking Amazon to stop selling anything other than items that glorify and condone pedophilia which is a sick and illegal activity. Amazon has already taken a stance against selling pornographic material. I consider this pornographic and vulgar. This is not the only book, Amazon has many books in this genre. And that is why I am boycotting Amazon. I am asking them to take a stand as a first in a long line of big business to take a stand for decency and set the bar for acceptable lines of profit.

  5. Thank you for calling out the original purpose of freedom of speech.

    It is a privilege we often abuse and Amazon is a coward for trying to hide behind it. It’s fourth quarter sales should reflect the consequences of this deplorable corporate behavior.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *