Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Pedophile Handbook and The Limits of The First Amendment

Phillip Greaves, the author of “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure” has been charged with violating Florida’s obscenity law, a third degree felony in that state that could see him imprisoned for up to five years. He deserves every day of it, and then some more for his vile, grubby and predatory words that encourage others to prey on small children. I am disgusted that this disgraceful mountebank has become a poster boy for first amendment fanatics who never see harm in any words; they should be ashamed.

I know this is the second time that I have, as one who in many areas borders on being libertarian, expressed an opinion that seems, at first glance, to run counter to the principles set forth in the first amendment. However, there is a point where words themselves become a crime; that is the case here. I will, though, state that I would be much more comfortable if Greaves were charged with solicitation or incitement to commit child sex offenses rather than violations of an obscenity law. Not because I believe his rights have been infringed, as I wholeheartedly agree that what he has written is obscene, indecent and illegal, but because I would rather see the man branded a sex offender for the rest of his life than merely as one who has done something that is obscene.

Greaves was arrested this week on an arrest warrant from Florida in his Colorado home because he had sent, as requested, a copy of his self-published book to Polk County, Florida Deputy Sheriffs and had been “kind enough to sign it for them”. I shall leave aside any issues of possible entrapment or the possibility that a Sheriff was trying to grab headlines by being the one to bring Greaves to justice. Rather, I want to focus on why Mr. Greaves deserves to be prosecuted.

Greaves attorney stated that a finding of probable cause in this case would have a chilling effect on free speech; unfortunately his attorney misses the point. Greaves, in publishing this book, is looking to promote, to facilitate or, in more legalistic language, incite, and then aid and abet, criminals who prey on children in the very worst way.

Greaves is, in my view, a semi-literate pervert who promoted his text as a guide that, in his own words, appeals "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.” These words show us the measure, or lack thereof, of the man. “Better nature”? How dare he say such a thing?

Greaves told CNN that "true pedophiles love children and would never hurt them.” He continued stating: “Penetration is out. You can't do that with a child, but kissing and fondling I don't think is that big of a problem." The fact that this wanton, despicable man believes that an adult kissing and fondling a child for their own sexual gratification does not hurt the child beggars belief. Our society is, unfortunately, filled with the horror stories of people who were abused as children and there are few indeed, if any, who would hold with Greaves’ warped view of it “not being a big problem”.

Were it not for the nature of his writings I would dismiss Greaves as a mere Chaucerian fraud attempting to make money in a disreputable way, as so many people do. However, I find the content of his message and his expressed motives far more disturbing and far more worthy of severe punishment, although as I write this it does occur to me that severe punishment might be something he would enjoy.

Make no mistake, this book was nothing more than a sordid “how to” manual for sex offenders. The book became well known to the public when Greaves started peddling it on Amazon. When knowledge of the book spread there were immediate calls for Amazon to stop selling it, which they initially refused to do stating: Amazon "does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts" however they believed it was "censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable." Amazon, however, is a private company and, like private individuals, they have a right to engage in censorship if they so desire.

Amazon faced mounting consumer pressure and threat of a boycott, and so, thankfully, reversed course and pulled the book from their online store. I give credit where credit is due to their decision to stop sales of this book. Those who criticize Amazon, like one poster on AOL who said they "caved to pressure" and should take a firmer stance in “defense of the first amendment”, miss the point. As I stated before, Amazon is a private company not a government entity and as such is not bound by constraints of the first amendment. This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to the written and spoken word: the thought that we are all constrained by the constitution to never censor others. Fortunately for us, the first amendment does not read “Amazon shall make no law”!

Next, however we are called to look at the validity of the government action as Greaves stands charged for peddling his gutter dwelling message.

I have read the commentary written by people who are outraged that Greaves would be charged and consider that to be an affront to the first amendment. While they correctly invoke the issue of the first amendment, as charges do constitute government action against Greaves for words he has written, their argument then falls apart when confronted with reason. Do these guardians of the first amendment really believe that there should be no limit to what a person may say and where they may say it?

Let us take the defenders of Greave’s first amendment rights “argument” to its’ logical conclusion. If speech is without limits then surely a man who asks another person to kill his wife is guilty of no crime when the other does so. For surely “all he did” was speak, they were just words, right? Or a man who tells another to rob someone, and they do, would be guilty of no crime because surely all they did was speak words, correct?….. You get the point and it is that there comes a place where words, by their very nature, become unequivocal calls for imminent illegal actions and those words themselves are illegal and should be punished. Or there are words that convey a message so vile, so obscene that they are criminal.

I am sure there are many first amendment absolutists who would be glad for a government that would stop someone yelling “fire” when the gun is pointed at their head.

Children deserve to live their childhoods as free from harm and abuse as we can make them. They are not objects of sexual gratification for people whose warped minds believe that fondling and kissing them is not a problem. Phillip Greaves is a sad, pathetic pervert who would ruin the lives of the children. He wants others to gain pleasure from sexually abusing children. He wants to make money out of telling them how to do it. He should be in prison.

Those who think that prosecuting Greaves infringes on his rights should stop for just a moment and think instead of the rights of the children whose lives he would ruin.

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