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.