Thoughtcrime 1.0Posted: December 21, 2010
Philip Greaves, the man who wrote a ‘how to’ book on pedophilia that was briefly for sale on Amazon, has been arrested in Florida even though he lives in Colorado. Greaves wrote and self-published the book, “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct,” in Pueblo, Colorado. It was briefly carried on Amazon.com, but, after considerable protest, removed from Amazon’s list of products for sale. Detectives in Polk County, Florida, apparently purchased the book from Greaves through the mail, had him arrested by the Pueblo police and are now seeking to have him extradited to Florida where he will be charged. Sheriff Grady Judd said, “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.“
I would never say that I like the idea of someone writing a book like Greave’s book. There is no doubt in my mind that pedophilia is wrong. But I’m extraordinarily disturbed that a Sheriff in Florida would first ask someone in another state to send him a book and then seek to arrest that person for having sent them the book. The arrest hinges on the fact that such a book is illegal in Florida (Mr. Greaves may have been ignorant of that fact), but Mr. Greaves did not violate the Florida law until detectives in Florida wrote to him and asked him to send them the book. The Sheriff is arresting Mr. Greaves for a crime that law enforcement officers encouraged Mr. Greaves to commit. Aren’t there any actual criminals in Florida in need or arrest?
The other part of the story that disturbs me is that Mr. Greaves isn’t being arrested for commiting acts of pedophila. He is being arrested for writing about pedophila. I think that’s an important distinction. I’m certain that rape is wrong and I think rape should be illegal, but I don’t recall anyone having suggested that it would be right to arrest Ayn Rand for the rape scene she wrote about in “The Fountainhead.” On a practical level, I am very uncomforable with laws that don’t limit themselves to what the criminal does, but instead extend into what the criminal might think or write about. Reading books about murder or fantasizing about murdering someone or even writing a book about killing someone is not murder. And yet, Sheriff Judd claims that he wants to protect the children by arresting someone in another state who wrote a book. Should the authors of ‘Lolita’ and ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ also be arrested since those works of fiction contain references to pedophilia?
The entire story worries me because it makes me wonder what the next logical progression of this event might be. If Greaves can be arrested for writing a book in Colorado that is illegal in Florida, where does Florida’s juristdiction end? If writing the book is illegal, how about owning or reading it? (and, honestly, I don’t know how anyone could judge the legality of the contents of the book without reading it) If writing or reading about certain matters is illegal, then shouldn’t thinking about them be wrong as well? And, if so, how do you enforce that law?
In the end, the issue isn’t pedophilia because, as far as I know, the author is not going to be charged with physical sexual misconduct. The author wrote a book in which he apparently described how one might go about seducing children… which, no matter how distasteful we might find that, is much different than actually doing it. If anyone deserves to be arrested on the basis of the Florida law that makes it illegal to import ‘pedophilia instruction manuals’ across the state line, shouldn’t it be the detectives who caused the book to be shipped to Florida by ordering it?