Is Banning a Pro-pedophile book, the right answer?

This is the question posed by Time Magazine and it represents some fundamental flaws in some of the discussion regarding #BoycottAmazon.

First of all, is anyone trying to ban a book?

It is not antithetical to Free Speech for a company to be selective about what it promotes and sells. If I write a lengthy blog regarding my navel (I might!), the first amendment protects me from the government that might prevent me from publishing or possibly punish me for publishing. Further, being in a free country, I have a right to distribute my navel contemplation article however I am able. I assume, however, that should I submit such an article to Time Magazine, they would most likely reject it. Is that a free speech issue? No.

As a private company, Time has the right to publish whatever it wants. An author may write whatever he or she wants, a publisher may publish whatever it wants, a store may sell whatever it wants, and a consumer may purchase whatever he or she wants. Ah, freedom!

So, why, when consumers use a company’s expressed values as a deciding factor for where thy shop do we suddenly have a “Free Speech” issue?

The folly reminds me of the apostate minister in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. Having lived in hell, the man takes his chance to visit Heaven where he is invited to stay. The man is most concerned with philosophy and theology. In fact, he has a group that meets each week in hell and discusses all kinds of questions. He is appalled when he learns that Heaven offers truth for he has long dismissed truth as an ideal. For him, the question is more important than the answer.

For many, the idea is more important than the action. Time Magazine seems to think so

So while a guide to pro-pedophilia is horrifying, of course, Clark-Flory makes the good point that rather than continue to vilify those with this psychiatric disorder — or the books they write — it might do more good for both pedophiles and their victims if we focus on encouraging treatment rather than ignoring the existence of these ideas.

Pursue ideas rather than action. Respect ideas at the point of defending actions. The idea is the thing; the action suggested by the idea is secondary. This is why this discussion about Amazon’s pro-pedophilia values is being sidetracked by talk of book banning.

Of course, if Time really believed that rejection of a thought was tantamount to censorship, then they would publish every thought ever put to paper. They don’t. Consumers would buy every idea published. We don’t.

Publishers and distributors, like consumers, make value decisions all the time. And the controversy surrounding Amazon is about values. Remember, Amazon does restrict material all the time. Yet, of all the material that they deem “inappropriate,” The Pedophile’s Guide was defended as appropriate. So, no, I am not trying to ban a book. I am simply choosing to spend my money with companies that don’t defend reprehensible values. After all, values, like ideas, lead to actions, and actions are something we have to live with.