in Everything Else

#amazonfail: a perspective

I woke up to hashtag-tweetstorm of controversy this morning. Amazon are selling this book:

#amazonfail

I’m a parent of a 3 year-old, a member of his school’s PTA, and was, in my previous role, responsible for child e-safety. Just like 99.9% of people on the planet, I find this material extremely objectionable and dangerous. But then I’m not overly-fond of Amazon selling books on how to make pipe bombs and smuggle cocaine (which are also available if you look hard enough).

The hashtag #amazonfail, like other hashtags, became a rallying call for people to expend 140 characters of horror against big business not protecting us from such awful things. Amazon have now taken the book down yet people are still baying for blood and talking about a boycott. Unfortunately many are confusing the source of the book (author) with the conduit (Amazon).

I’m fully expecting to be castigated by those seeing themselves as ‘defenders of children’ but I’ll say it anyway:

A bookstore offered a book for sale that’s abhorrent to the majority of the population. Like the BNP appearing on a BBC pre-election debate, it seems that people are all for free speech – so long as they agree with those doing the speaking.

To be honest, as a parent and educator there are many other things I find more immediately disturbing to my everyday life. Take, for example, taxpayers’ money being used to  set up an Educational Endowment Fund instead of free school meals for the poorest children in our society. Or, how about £500,000 being spent by Michael Gove on a former adviser to set up a Free School advisory body? I’ll not even mention the fact we haven’t had a proper debate about the purpose of education in this country during my lifetime.

Some things are easy to cry out against. It’s the things that are more difficult to protest about effectively that we need to collectively focus upon.

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  1. I think you make an important point. It is easy to focus on single-issue stuff that makes “good” headlines. However, I’m not a proponent of unfettered free speech either. I think there are some things better not published.