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Which to ban

Clayton Cramer is fairly unhappy with Amazon because they’re selling a book entitled Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers. It is an apology piece for pedophilia, and I feel pretty comfortable assuming it’s utterly vile.

I also don’t think Amazon should stop selling it, because of their position as a huge bookstore. Cutting off the channels by which a book reaches its readers is not strictly speaking censorship, but it’s a kissing cousin. This will become less of an issue as the Internet becomes a better medium for transmitting information, but at the moment I think a bookstore the size of Amazon still has an obligation to sell books without discrimination, however justified that discrimination might be.

Cramer disagrees.

“If Amazon.com sold a book titled, Fagbashing for Fun and Profit: How to Kill Homosexuals and Get Away With It or 99 Ways to Rape Women and Beat the Rap in Court, I would be just as incensed—and liberals would be hollering for Jeff Bezos’ head on a platter, instead of making excuses for Amazon.com publishing this trash.”

He’s incorrect. Amazon sells The Protocols of Zion, Mein Kampf, and (if you’re feeling like being outraged from the right) The Communist Manifesto.

3 Comments

  1. I’m surprised Cramer has heard of Rice v. Paladin Enterprises. He certainly hasn’t read it. Contrast Rice:

    Ideas simply are neither the focus nor the burden of the book. To the extent that there are any passages within Hit Man’s pages that arguably are in the nature of ideas or abstract advocacy, those sentences are so very few in number and isolated as to be legally of no significance whatsoever. Hit Man is, pure and simple, a step-by-step murder manual, a training book for assassins. There is nothing even arguably tentative or recondite in the book’s promotion of, and instruction in, murder. To the contrary, the book directly and unmistakably urges concrete violations of the laws against murder and murder for hire and coldly instructs on the commission of these crimes. The Supreme Court has never protected as abstract advocacy speech so explicit in its palpable entreaties to violent crime.

    with Cramer:

    Here’s a simple rule: if a book promotes the abuse of others, no responsible person should be part of publishing, selling, or distributing that work. This was one of the reasons that Paladin Press paid out $8 million for publishing Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors some years ago

    Or maybe Cramer’s interpretation of “promotes” is much, much broader than mine.

    Some quotes from earlier cases I’m too tired to attribute:

    “These later decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

    “the mere abstract teaching . . . of the moral propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence is not the same as preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action.”

    It’s far from clear, but Cramer made his principles pretty clear: “Of course, it doesn’t have to be a “how-to” manual for molesting children.”

  2. Ok, looking back over the passage I quoted from Rice, I do see that “promotion” is actually a component of the case against Paladin. Just want to point out that I do see that, and that I still find Cramer’s statement totally inconsistent both with that passage and with Rice as a whole.

  3. Yeah, good point — Cramer’s pretty darned weak there as well.

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