A wholesome alternative or blatant censorship?
Abunga.com, a family-friendly bookselling website that allows users to block objectionable titles, has been labeled both since the company's decision last week to ban the book "The Golden Compass." The children's fantasy novel drew criticism from some religious groups for its perceived anti-Christian and atheistic themes. The controversy was thrust into the spotlight with the December release of the film adaptation of the book.
Negative reaction to Abunga's strategy of allowing customers to block their accounts' access to books has even included attacks on the website. "We experienced hundreds of hacker attacks ranging from simply blocking content like Bibles to complex scripts that attempted to block hundreds of books at a time," says Abunga.com Chief Technology Office Mike Walker. "It was a vicious response to our community of users exercising its freedom to remove objectionable materials."
One of the more aggressive opposition stances was taken by PZ Myers, a professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who blogged that Abunga has "no redeeming values at all" and that its practice of blocking books was an opportunity "to suppress minority views."
"I was amazed at the verbal animosity and hostile actions coming from those that would purport themselves to be liberal-minded," says Abunga.com chairman Dr. H. Lee Martin. "Freedom requires responsibility and the unbounded offerings of the major online bookstores often exploit debauchery for profit." With its user-based, interactive filtering system, Abunga.com intends to provide an alternative to retailers that choose to sell anything to anybody without consideration of its negative affect on society. The website eliminates more than 60,000 titles from its "shelves" to create an online shopping environment customers trust to be safe.
Additionally, Abunga.com allows users to designate charities, churches, and other non-profit organizations to receive five percent of sales revenue with every purchase. "We are dedicated to serving selected charities that make a positive difference in communities across the country," says Martin. "It's time we stand together for the moral foundation of this nation."