Philip Greaves, pedophile's guide author, gets probation after bust by Florida thought police

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Philip Greaves.
Philip Greaves couldn't be a worse poster boy for the free-speech movement. After all, the Pueblo resident's book, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure, promotes child molestation via "non-injurious rules" -- an oxymoronic (and vile) concept if ever there was one. But do his horrible thoughts, as opposed to proven crimes, justify a two-year probationary sentence in Florida?

As Alan Predergast reported last November, Amazon pulled Pedophile's Guide and other Greaves titles after the book was said to have made the site's list of top 100 best sellers -- a puzzlement given that Greaves, a former mental patient, claimed to have only sold one copy (a total dwarfed by the threats he says he received).

The controversy seemed to die down after that -- at least until December, when Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, reportedly frustrated that Greaves hadn't been jailed in Colorado for his despicable scribblings, decided to test Florida's anti-obscenity law by ordering Pedophile's Guide and then arresting Greaves for sending it.

Here's how Prendergast outlined the issues raised by this action:

The problem is that there's no proof Greaves ever molested anyone. Greaves has admitted being introduced to sex as a child himself but denied acting on any such urges as an adult. He has no criminal record in Colorado. And his book doesn't seem to fit the usual definitions of exploitation of a minor, since it contains no pictures of sexual contact between adult and child -- just words.

The thoughts expressed by those words are certainly repellent, but are they a crime? If depicting the psychology of a child molester is obscene, why isn't Judd going after Andrew Vachss or other novelists who have dared to do such things? If a blogger or newspaper reporter chooses to quote from Greaves' work in an attempt to explain what the controversy is about, is the sheriff going to get all Judd-and-jury on their ass, too?

Prendergast predicted that this "slippery slope" would come up as prosecution of Greaves moved forward -- but if it did, the dilemma didn't result in the case being dropped. In the end, Greaves pleaded no contest to distributing obscene material depicting minors engaged in harmful conduct.

He'll be able to serve his two years' worth of probation in Colorado and isn't required to register as a sex offender -- which makes sense since, as Prendergast points out, there's no evidence at this point that he acted on his putrid impulses. That's usually a prerequisite to sentencing, but not in this case.

What say you, Mr. Owell?

More from our Comment of the Day archive: "Reader: Phillip Greaves for sheriff!"

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Homeland security taps phones and arrests and imprisons people for taking photos of buildings. God save anyone who ever thinks about writing about a terrorist act. He's contributing to a crime by providing resources to a criminal. I think the calls it collusion.


Once the door is open to prosecuting people for what they write - as opposed to what they do, you have opened a Pandora's box - and you cannot close it again.

The reason why our founding fathers gave the Freedom of Speech pride of place among the Amendments to the Constitution, is because they understood that people need to have the right to defy authority with words and thoughts; if you strip this away by, essentially, castrating those who disagree with you - you will find that next time Authority-On-Steroids will have powers that no one ever intended. By that time, it will be too late.

The Internet, as it is rapidly evolving, has altered our society in ways that have left us all far more vulnerable than we would like to recognize. A mentally ill man can scrawl what is essentially an illiterate fantasy, call it a "book", and become not only reviled all across the world, but locked up - when, in fact, he has committed no crime (except the one dreamt up in a certain backwards county in Florida by a sheriff grand-standing for re-election). The next time the public gets whipped up into a frenzy of blood-lust (or the next, etc., etc.), I wonder if people will be surprised when the authorities find that the right that was so self-evident that they took it for granted - has become simply wiped away - too inconvenient for authorities to respect any more.

But, after all, The Public must be fed . . .

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