COLUMBIA - The first amendment allows journalists to talk about a wide range of topics, from the tame to the controversial. But does freedom of the press extend to the publication of an e-book Amazon.com recently pulled from its website?
The website received a flood of complaints about carrying "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure," a self-published e-book by Philip R. Greaves II. Two viewers also notified KOMU-8 that they wanted the book banned. Amazon.com decided to drop the e-book Nov. 12, so, the next day, the KOMU-8 morning team opened up a talk about that decision on Facebook.
"We think our viewers are intelligent and they always have very interesting takes on the stories that we're disseminating," KOMU-8 News Today anchor Megan Murphy said. "So, we decided to ask them if they thought that Pedophile Guide was censorship or not because they're smart, and it was an interesting topic and interesting conversation about first amendment rights."
Steve Wells posted, "It's way past time to draw the line with freedom of speech. Any guide to openly break the law should be banned."
But Russ Lynn said the author "had every right to print the book, and Amazon had every right to carry it, but free market forces prevailed upon Amazon to pull it down or risk censure by its customers."
So, does the first amendment protect the publication of the "Pedophile's Guide"?
"You have got to think about it on two levels. One- is there a broad first amendment right for this guy to self-publish any disgusting work on pedophilia he wishes? Yes. Does Amazon maintain its own right to exclude that work from its store? Yes," MU Journalism School professor Charles Davis said. "And to me, Amazon made a very wise decision as a business, which was to take off some unbelievably toxic content from its site that was going to generate no sales and tremendous outrage."
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