(CNN) — “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct” was pulled from Amazon.com, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, after thousands of users posted angry comments and threats to boycott the site.
The self-published e-book was available on the site for download until late Wednesday for $4.79.
Company spokesman Drew Herdener would not comment on the controversy or respond to questions about the company’s guidelines for digital publication.
On Wednesday, Amazon defended selling the book in response to a report published on BusinessInsider.com.
“Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”
Before it disappeared from the site Wednesday night, the listing had more than 2,000 user comments. The vast majority of them condemned the book’s stated content, as well as Amazon’s decision to make it available.
“It is ILLEGAL to molest children, and for Amazon to promote such is insane. I’m an abuse survivor, and am OUTRAGED Amazon would choose to promote this nonsense. I will not be purchasing anything from your website until this is removed,” one user wrote in a comment that summed up the feelings of many others.
In its product description, the book’s author described it as “my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] rules for these adults to follow.”
“I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter [sic] sentences should they ever be caught,” he said.
Author Phillip R. Greaves II told CNN that he published “The Pedophile’s Guide” to address what he considers unfair portrayals of pedophiles in the media.
“True pedophiles love children and would never hurt them,” the Pueblo, Colorado, man said in a phone interview Wednesday night.
Greaves, 47, told CNN that he has not had sexual contact with a child as an adult, but did when he was a teenager. He also said he “was introduced to oral sex when I was 7” by an older female, but did not provide specifics.
A small contingent of Amazon.com users defended the author’s right to free speech, and a discussion on the site titled “Why Amazon is Right” delved into the constitutional implications of the controversy. Others floated the possibility that the e-book was a hoax or a law enforcement trap for pedophiles.
“While I think 99.9 percent of us object to pedophilia (even though I think this particular book was a publicity stunt/joke), I think we can all agree that we don’t want someone else censoring a subject matter that we may be interested in. Religion, atheism, homosexuality, etc. are some subjects that spring to mind … and they have been censored in the past until we realized that it’s best to let all information in (even if we don’t like some of it), rather than allow some authority or individual decide what we can and can’t know about based on their own opinions or motivations,” one user wrote.
In its form as a written piece, “The Pedophile’s Guide” is protected under the First Amendment right to free speech, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.
Child pornography is illegal as images. But text, which can be considered “works of advocacy,” has won protection in the courts under the First Amendment, Toobin said.
“There is an argument that some works of advocacy are incitement, but the courts have been very, very narrow in interpreting that as a crime,” Toobin said.
“I think this one is well safe under the protection of the First Amendment.”