I love free speech (it is a metric of liberty) so it helps that I hardly ever take offense. I’d love for everyone to never take offense, but I understand that folks do get offended — even reasonable folks. And if something offends them, they absolutely have the right to protest. It is over how the protest should take form that I disagree with fundamentalist organizations. For reasonable folks, here’s a great example of a successful protest from yesterday:

Techcrunch discovered that Amazon.com was selling a book The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure. Pedophilia is illegal in the U.S. and Techcrunch was shocked Amazon was openly selling the book (and taking a share of the profits). They wrote to Amazon, which replied:

Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.

(Let’s forget for a moment that it wouldn’t be censorship as Amazon is not the government, just a private business.)

Michael Arrington, editor of Techcrunch, wrote a post saying he was boycotting Amazon until they took the book down.

The book meanwhile, which was the 158,221st best-selling book when this saga began, quickly moved to a very visible top-100 spot. Internet activists did their thing: A Facebook page to Boycott Amazon got over 10,000 likes and the Twitter hashtag #BoycottAmazon took off.

Within hours, regardless of what their supposed stance on censorship was, Amazon pulled the book.

And that’s how it’s done.

Hope you remember this the next time you join a mob to pelt stones at Salman Rushdie’s residence or forcibly enter M.F. Hussain’s painting exhibition.

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