Ah, remember when having the world’s largest selection of merchandise was a good thing? Well apparently Amazon.com’s decision to offer magaiznes catering to the Cock Fighting crowd has – in what will be the most overused pun in a decade – ruffled some feathers.
The Register UK and Computerworld report the Humane Society has slapped Amazon.com with a lawsuit. The action specifically concerns "The Underground Pitbull Breeders Association, StreetHeatDVD.com, and the publishers of The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior. Also targeted are the DVDs Unleashed: The Realest Pitbull Action Caught on Tape and Hood Fights Vol. 2, The Art of the Pit, both "depicting illegal dogfighting".
According to the Humane Society, "At issue in the case are four items which the HSUS has repeatedly asked Amazon.com to drop from its sales list because they depict and promote cruel dogfighting and cockfighting events in violation of federal law. Amazon.com is the sole retailer of subscriptions to the animal fighting magazines and the only outlet for animal fighters to obtain subscriptions over the internet. Similarly, Amazon.com is one of only three sellers of the dogfighting DVD and the easiest seller to locate on the web. A Humane Society review of the last 12 months of The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior found that more than 90 per cent of the magazines’ advertisements are nothing more than a solicitation to commit a crime…and uncovered evidence that such magazines are published for the express purpose of promoting unlawful animal fighting and are found at more than 75 per cent of the animal fighting operations that have been raided by law enforcement officers."
So in one corner, you have the Humane Society using a legal argument to try to quell a market that by all terms of human decency, shouldn’t even exist. In the other corner you have Amazon.com, standing behind a 1st Amendment argument of, "Hey we sell everything." Now as easy as this decision might seem, its likely they are sticking to this argument so one day they can’t get forced into a corner either by the religious right or liberal left over whether or not to sell, "How to Fix your Gay Friend" or "Jesus was a Sex Addict." Saying, "We Sell Everything" when it comes to literature on cock-fighting gets you about as far down the reprehensible spectrum as you can go.
And let’s not forget, Amazon doesn’t create the marketplace for this material. Someone is writing the articles, someone is publishing the magazine, someone else is selling the ads, someone else is buying the ads and still someone else buys the magazine. So as awful as it sounds, this isn’t all Amazon’s fault.
Now the marketing side of this is a little grayer. It’s a fallacy for Amazon to say, "We Sell Everything." "24 Ways to Attack Paris Hilton" would not be listed amongst their catalog. Amazon is grown up enough that they need to come out and be strong, and say, "This sport isn’t right. It’s so off the radar in terms of social acceptance, that this is not a 1st Amendment issue. There are bounds of good taste, and while we do not believe that we should be the arbitrator of good taste, we have enough common sense to know this does not live up to the standards of the 1.6 Billion other products we offer."