You may recall the ruckus from a few months ago, when Amazon.com came under fire for selling a self-published book called The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct. Amazon eventually gave in to public outrage and pulled the book, but author Philip Greaves continued his efforts to sell it, and now they have brought him afoul of Florida’s obscenity laws.
Greaves was arrested at his Pueblo, Colorado, home today after selling a signed copy of his book by mail order to undercover detectives in Polk County, Florida. I wonder if he added a personalized inscription. I can hardly imagine what it might have said.
Polk County sheriff Grady Judd seemed numb with horror in a CNN interview, as he cited Florida obscenity law: “You cannot engage or depict children in a harmful relationship.” It turns out that Greaves’ book does both – it includes illustrations. “He actually provided a how-to guide to commit sexual battery against children,” Judd continued. “There may be nothing the other 49 states can do, but there’s something Florida can do to make sure we prosecute Philip Greaves for this manifesto… The message is very clear: If you write a book, if you sell that book, if you transmit that book to anyone in our jurisdiction, then we will investigate you and arrest, because our goal is protect the children.”
Actually, contrary to Sheriff Judd’s assertion, 39 of the other states do have obscenity laws, but Colorado’s were significantly weakened by its state Supreme Court. Greaves has reportedly chosen not to fight extradition – a fight his lawyers were optimistic he would win – so it sounds like he wants to have his day in Florida court, and perhaps make some Big Statements about tolerance. He’s always maintained the purpose of his book is to help pedophiles practice their unique love as “safely” as possible. As quoted by the Polk Sherriff’s Office, his book says, “Do not imagine you have been given a mere code of ethics. Instead, consider that the nectar of love has been given from the hand of compassion and grace.”
Amazon’s decision to pull the book was criticized on First Amendment grounds, but that was preposterous, as the First Amendment cannot be interpreted to require a private company to sell a product it does not wish to carry.
State obscenity laws have withstood Constitutional scrutiny in the past. The Associated Press quotes former Polk County police officer Dennis J. Kenney as saying Greaves’ arrest might be a “significant overreach,” but then adds an entirely facile objection from unnamed “legal experts” who ask “what would prevent officials from prosecuting a bookseller who ships and sellsVladimir Nabokov's Lolita, a novel about a pedophile?” Lolita is a tragic comedy, not an instruction manual.
The vile purpose of Greaves’ book is clear enough. There are cases where obscenity laws could be abused, but this isn’t one of them. Western culture has degraded to the point where a significant number of people find themselves asking why incest is wrong. We don’t need to play with dynamite by asking the same questions about pedophilia.
“Tolerance” is often praised as a supreme virtue of Western civilization. A society can also be measured by what it does not tolerate – and there are always things that will not be tolerated. Pedophilia is one of them. Not every state would punish it as vigorously as Florida, but I don’t see any down side to the publishers of a how-to book for pedophiles wondering if every mail order they receive might be coming from an undercover deputy.