Why Amazon Should Keep Publishing Rape and Incest Porn

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The online magazine Kernel is after Amazon for publishing pornographic eBooks that fetishize rape and incest. 

The books Kernel writer Jeremy Wilson found are awful. If your default position is to support free speech, these are the kinds of titles that make you wince. It's a lot easier to defend Huckleberry Finn than Taking My Drunk Daughter, Reluctant Brother Blowjob, or Forced By Daddy.

So how'd the titles even end up on Amazon? According to Wilson, the authors of the books set up their own publishing houses by registering an ISBN number for a few hundred bucks. Then they upload their work. Amazon doesn't police its digital publishing platforms in a meaningful way, so the books stay up, even though Amazon forbids pornography. 

And these are leagues worse than pornography. These are books that are written to give you, the reader, pleasure while you imagine someone raping a child. 

Amazon should ignore Kernel and leave them up.

We outlaw snuff films, child porn and, increasingly, revenge porn, because actual people are harmed during their production. Erotic fiction concerns fake characters who don't exist in real life. You could argue that entertainment that caters to people's darkest fantasies makes them more likely to enact them, but the science wouldn't support you.

As for the idea that these books are just in bad taste, well, absolutely. They're the worst. But you won't find these books unless you're looking for them. They don't show up in Amazon search results, you have to go directly to their link. They're hidden away in the digital equivalent of the video store's curtain-covered backroom. 

Since Kernel started writing about Amazon's back room, Amazon has deleted many of the offending titles without public comment. Which is too bad. I wish Amazon would say, aggressively, that they're for free speech, and that they won't ban a book just because it's a stomach-turning obscenity with no redeeming literary or cultural value. 

Thanks to Amazon, we're losing our publishing houses, who did a decent job finding the best writing and directing our attention toward it. Amazon doesn't do that. The best and worst thing you can say about Amazon is that they'll publish pretty much anything.  

In the pre-Amazon Dark Ages, there were small towns where the only place to buy a book was Walmart. If you wanted a book that was too risque for America's most squeaky-clean retailer, you were in trouble. If Amazon is going to be, essentially, the world's last bookstore, I'd like to know that Bezos isn't Steve Jobs, who defined freedom for his customers as freedom from objectionable content. I wish Bezos would say that while he despises these books, Amazon's role is to publish everything, even our culture's most irredeemable garbage.