Using for an excuse an "e-book" that amazon.com put on line apparently without even looking at it, Anderson Cooper of CNN has ignited yet another witch hunt. Fanning the flames of hysteria, he first coerced amazon into taking the e-book off line, and then attacked all of the legitimate print books on the subject of so-called "pedophilia" that amazon had carried for many years. After initially resisting this book burning campaign, amazon caved in. Below is a response which has been sent in full to Cooper and Bezos.

Burning Books

An open letter to Anderson Cooper (Cable News Network) and Jeff Bezos (amazon.com)

"Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bόcher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." ("That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.")

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine
13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856
Gentlemen:

First, let me say that I do not know Philip Greaves, I have not read his "e-book" publication The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-lover's Code of Conduct, and all I know about him and his book is what I have read in the electronic media. He may – or may not – have crossed the line between legitimate investigation and discussion of issues into the area of advocating and counseling illegal contact between adults and children. This question is not the subject of this letter.

I can't speak for Mr. Greaves, but I have been active in research and writing in this area for more than a decade, I have an undergraduate degree in psychology from a fully accredited, state sponsored, college, and I have had eight publications in four recognized scientific journals and in a McGraw-Hill textbook. Furthermore, despite the specious claims of "victimologists," the issues of so-called pedophilia are far from resolved: legitimate authors such as Rind (1998), Levine (2002), and Clancy (2010) have questioned the media and panic driven "common knowledge." And, just for the record, I have never been so much as questioned or investigated for improper conduct with a minor.

For the sake of discussion, let's assume that Mr. Greaves' publication was, in fact, a "how to molest children" manual of instructions. While you, Mr. Cooper, may have simply been playing the "Let's harass those damned pedophiles" ratings game, such as Bill O'Reilly did on Fox news some time ago, you also may have a legitimate complaint, and what you see as sufficient justification, to embark on your crusade against Mr. Greaves. But it is questionable if these rationales can be extended to your subsequent targets.

In your "Peddling Pedophilia" segment, Mr. Cooper, you showed two of my books and claimed that they were equivalent to Greaves' e-book on amazon.com. If you had properly investigated those books you would have discovered that they are not "How to molest children" instruction manuals, but discussions of the many issues of consensual sexually expressed relationships between boys and older males, and the second of these books is carefully supported with academic references. But your failure to observe journalistic standards of responsibility, investigation, and research – not to mention common decency and fairness – has resulted in all of my books – plus several others – being removed from amazon, one after 10 years. If you have a conscience, it should be bothering you. And if you have any principles, you should retract your erroneous conflation of these two books – and various others – with Greaves'.

Some 10 years ago, Mr. Bezos, when amazon first began to carry my Understanding Loved Boys, there was a campaign to force you to drop the book. I wish I had kept records, but I distinctly remember you making the public statement that this book was NOT a "how to molest children" book, but a plea for reasonableness and understanding. That campaign failed, the book stayed in your catalog for some ten years, and was joined by others of mine over the years. What has changed in these last ten years, Mr. Bezos? The facts of the issues, your devotion to your previously stated principles, or your keeping a watchful eye out for any incidents of poor judgment that may be going on in the company you founded and nurtured so carefully and successfully?

German philosopher Heinrich Heine warned us 150 years ago: "where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also." Among many fulfillments of Heine's prescient insight were the thousands of books burned by the Nazis on Berlin's Opernplatz in 1933, and the crematoriums of the 1940s. Thankfully, the actual burning alive of people today has become rare to nonexistent, but the virtual burning of anyone accused of so-called "pedophilia" is all too common in our courts and media. And this recent incident, incited by you, Mr. Cooper, and tacitly endorsed by you, Mr. Bezos, is a sad comment on society's failure to reject burning of legitimate books, even if it was a virtual, rather than physical, incineration.

Mr. Bezos, there is a fair and reasonable solution to this flagrant assault upon the legitimate authors who have been the victims of the Salemesque witch hunt that Mr. Cooper has triggered. Reinstate the listings, and simply add a disclaimer at the beginning of each one to the effect that the book has been thoroughly examined and found not to be a "how to molest children" manual, but rather a serious discussion of genuine issues which are currently being debated in scientific journals and elsewhere. This should adequately address the concerns that have been raised by Mr. Cooper and a shrill minority, satisfy the vast majority of rational people, and restore the honor and integrity of amazon.com as a bastion of the First Amendment.

David L. "Dave" Riegel

 

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