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Borders: Support (Some) Banned Books

Borders is sponsoring a convention called "Wordstock," which encourages the reading of banned books.

nevermetabannedauthorsmall.jpg

This is amazingly ironic considering Borders, along with Waldenbooks, has banned the sale of the April/May issue of Free Inquiry because it published some of the Muhammad cartoons.


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Comments (45)

They're not selling this is... (Below threshold)

They're not selling this issue of Free Inquiry because of the possible risks posed by some theoretical Muslims who haven't actually made any threats yet, but they are selling everything Salman Rushdie has in print (and his death sentence is still in effect, handed down by some of the same folks who hate the cartoons).

Rushidie's most recent novel is in the Borders "new in hardcover" section on their website...

Borders is banning the sale... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Borders is banning the sale of this magazine? Really? I had no idea a bookstore chain had the power to do that. Oh, wait, they're just not selling it in their stores? Hmmm, that seems kind of different, doesn't it? They also don't sell tractor tires in their stores, does that mean they're banned?

To Bloggers from Borders

Hey Mantis, the point is th... (Below threshold)

Hey Mantis, the point is they claim to be all in favor of "banned books" but run like scared children from real controversy.

Yeah, but they want to kill... (Below threshold)

Yeah, but they want to kill Rushdie for those, so who cares...selling copies of some cartoons (in this magazine or any other publication - just so we don't overfocus on this one incident) would lead to death threats against Borders' employees...big difference.

And, hey, since when did the Muhammed cartoons become 'anti-muslim cartoons'? Has anyone else noticed that's how the media seems to be referring to them now? At first they were just pictures of the big M. Yeah, one had a bomb on his head and one poked fun at suicide/homicide bombers...but I didn't really see anything in them to suggest 'anti-Muslim'. All I can figure is pre-emptive moral equivalency. Knowing that the arab world was running out to publish every offensive anti-jew cartoon they could crap onto a page, and knowing that they would truly be 'anti-jew' and not like pictures of Moses or something, they had to act like the Danish doodlers had 'started it' by drawing 'anti-muslim' cartoons, that were, in fact, simply sketches of the big M. But since they won't publish the pictures, it makes it easy to lie to people about it, most of whom haven't seen them...I dunno, sounds pretty sketchy to me.

mantis:The nationa... (Below threshold)

mantis:

The national Borders management banned their individual stores from carrying this magazine.

So yes, they did ban this book. Which is directly contrary to their yearly "read banned books" ad blitz.

...so it's okay (for you) that Borders decided to not carry a magazine in response to a possible threat from a group that hasn't actually done anything to them yet, but Borders will have a table full of "banned" books that various local folks have (for example) decided they didn't want in their junior high libraries.

And, once again, they carry a helluva lot of books that are already officially condemned by the folks that Borders imagines will Do Something if this minor magazine is put on the shelf.

Hey Mantis, the point is... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Hey Mantis, the point is they claim to be all in favor of "banned books" but run like scared children from real controversy.

Read the letter from the CEO that I linked and then tell me why you think Borders should be on the front line on this.

"Yeah, but they want to kil... (Below threshold)

"Yeah, but they want to kill Rushdie for those, so who cares...selling copies of some cartoons (in this magazine or any other publication - just so we don't overfocus on this one incident) would lead to death threats against Borders' employees...big difference"

There were previous threats against stores that carried "The Satanic Verses" when it came out (1988) and two bookstores were actually firebombed (instead of theoretically firebombed, like the current issue).

The national Borders man... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The national Borders management banned their individual stores from carrying this magazine.

It's called policy, not a ban. It seems clear you're not familiar with the way businesses run.

And yes it's ok (for me) for Border's to do this because I don't own their damned company!

There were previous thre... (Below threshold)
mantis:

There were previous threats against stores that carried "The Satanic Verses" when it came out (1988) and two bookstores were actually firebombed (instead of theoretically firebombed, like the current issue).

Well, for the sake of right-wing bloggers righteous indignation, I think that Borders should get themselves firebombed as well. You've really turned me around on this one.

Well, Mantis, you can take ... (Below threshold)
Vorpal:

Well, Mantis, you can take threats of firebombing now or you can have incremental dhimmi-hood. Take your pick.

"It's called policy, not a ... (Below threshold)

"It's called policy, not a ban. It seems clear you're not familiar with the way businesses run."

So if a local school board decides they don't want a book in their libraries, they can just call it a "policy," then. No more "Huckleberry Finn," because they just have a "policy" about some language...

It seems clear that you don't know how words are weaseled.

I remember Michelle Malkin ... (Below threshold)
jc:

I remember Michelle Malkin had a big problem with Borders employees doing things like hiding her book and telling people that asked for it that it had sold out and stuff (or maybe they just talked about doing that on their chat forum). It was the case for internment book. And then some academic historians tried to have it banned from the bookstore at some park. Plus all the trouble she had speaking on campuses about it (and still does).

Mark Twain said, "The radical of one century is the conservative of the next." Liberals have set up a certain way of thinking and they abhor any challenge to it. That sounds pretty conservative to me.

Oh, I see cirby. You must ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Oh, I see cirby. You must be right, it is a ban. Recently, I've been pissed because my local grocery store stopped carryi-, banned my favorite type of pizza. I'm also kind of annoyed that Wal-Mart has decided to ban the sale of UMD videos.

The government bans things cirby (and yes, that includes public schools). Private business do not ban anything, they simply sell something, or they don't. Why do you hate the free market?

Mantis ~ the point is the i... (Below threshold)
upsetmom:

Mantis ~ the point is the irony of making a big deal about banned books while ......banning a magazine. For whatever reason. It is a bit bizarre to be sponsoring a convention of banned books, in effect decrying the practice they are endorsing in their own store. I'm sure a numbber of banned books were lethal to be found with in some islamic countries, and if I recall my history, it was lethal to be found with a Bible a number of times in a number of countries. If you are going to get on a soapbox about a particular subject, it is not wise to abandon the soapbox when it comes to your own business ~ at least, not if you want to retain credibility.

That looks like a Dutch car... (Below threshold)
charlie:

That looks like a Dutch cartoonist in the t-shirt to me.

And as an impartial judge of the exchange above, I think mantis lost big time.

How do you spell hipocracy, anyway?

Mantis,Read the l... (Below threshold)
wadikitty:

Mantis,
Read the letter from the CEO that I linked and then tell me why you think Borders should be on the front line on this.

That's fine, they can choose not to be on the front line; but where they should not be is on the poster above. What they're saying here is that they've never met a book banned by any governmental or other organization that they didn't "like", thus implying that they'd sell it in their store. It's ok for them to, in effect, ban a publication though.

Sure, it's their right to not carry a publication because of the contents; I'd just rather they not prattle on about their "love" of banned books.

mantis quoth:"Oh, ... (Below threshold)

mantis quoth:

"Oh, I see cirby. You must be right, it is a ban. "

Actually, I am right, it is a ban.

You see, despite your silly non-sequitur examples of companies not carrying things because they weren't making them enough money, Borders decided to not sell an issue of something they were already selling and will keep selling in the future because of factors that they publicly demand other people ignore, and which they spend quite a lot of money promoting through advertising.

They have a right to do this. And we also have a right to point out that the people running Borders are complete hypocrites for doing so.

On the other hand, if Borders had decided to not carry the new Al Franken book, the entire American left would be screaming about how the Evil Censors were suppressing free speech...

The semantic argument of wh... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The semantic argument of whether this is a ban or not has become tiresome and stupid. Call it what you want.

Anyway, so because Borders has sponsored a book festival that then used "banned books" in their advertisements, Borders should what, ask that their name be taken off the advertisements and withdraw themselves as sponsor? Keep in mind that the advertisement was not theirs, is not an example of them on their soapbox or "prattling on", it was an ad made by the festival that had about 20 sponsor logos on it, including Borders'.

On the other hand, if Borders had decided to not carry the new Al Franken book, the entire American left would be screaming about how the Evil Censors were suppressing free speech...

I think they would actually just laugh at them as Franken sells a lot of books, not carrying them would be bad business. Free Inquiry on the other hand, does not sell.

I'll just add that as a former Borders employee, I like the fact that the store considers the safety of its employees more important than the sale of half a dozen magazines.

Mantis is right. Border's, ... (Below threshold)
smitty:

Mantis is right. Border's, as a private business, has the right to decide what books/magazines it will or will not sell.

I applaud Border's honesty, they've decided not to sell "Free Inquiry" because they're afraid of possible violence against the business or its customers.

Governments can ban books, businesses can't, but businesses can halt the sale of books and, in effect, become the agents of censorship and banning.

Walmart was criticized for not selling CDs that offended the owners' sensibilities; but Border's is being criticized for not selling a magazine out of fear of violence. The end effect might be the same but there's a big difference between the two.

One wonders what the reaction wold be if Border's decided to pull a book becuase of threats, or possible threats, from the KKK. I imagine Mantis would change his tune.


"Keep in mind that the adve... (Below threshold)

"Keep in mind that the advertisement was not theirs, is not an example of them on their soapbox or "prattling on", it was an ad made by the festival that had about 20 sponsor logos on it, including Borders'."

...yet, every year, Borders always has a display set up right by the door, promoting Banned Book Week, and they brag about how you can get all of those banned books in their stores.

"Free Inquiry on the other hand, does not sell."

Well, it did last issue, and it will next issue, just not the one that carries some cartoons.

"I'll just add that as a former Borders employee, I like the fact that the store considers the safety of its employees more important than the sale of half a dozen magazines."

...and, again, Borders carries other books and magazines that offend many groups (including crazy Muslim extremists), but they manage to keep selling those books. So, as a former Borders employee, what they're telling you is that your safety is important to them, as long as it doesn't cost them more than a few thousand bucks across the whole chain (there's an actuary somewhere looking at the numbers, and saying "well, as long as we're making a lot of money, screw the employees' safety.").

every year, Borders alwa... (Below threshold)
mantis:

every year, Borders always has a display set up right by the door, promoting Banned Book Week, and they brag about how you can get all of those banned books in their stores.

It's called promotion, and it is a way to sell books. Hard to grasp, I'm sure.

Well, it did last issue, and it will next issue, just not the one that carries some cartoons.

Not really, the magazine hardly sells at all.

...and, again, Borders carries other books and magazines that offend many groups (including crazy Muslim extremists), but they manage to keep selling those books. So, as a former Borders employee, what they're telling you is that your safety is important to them, as long as it doesn't cost them more than a few thousand bucks across the whole chain (there's an actuary somewhere looking at the numbers, and saying "well, as long as we're making a lot of money, screw the employees' safety.").

Maybe you didn't notice the reaction to newspapers printing the cartoons in Europe, or the fact that no major US newspaper has printed them. Why do you think that is? The fact is that this is a hot issue right now, and the violence resulting from the printing of these cartoons, deplorable and idiotic as it is, is something that many have deemed worthy of avoiding. I'm sure Borders will carry books down the line that reprint the cartoons, after the furor and violence are long past, but right now they put safety first. No one riots because of the sale of Rushdie's books nowadays, they do riot over the cartoons.

The issue is not whether some nutbags hate something they sell, the issue is whether that particular item is likely to lead to violence. I'm sure every hate group out there has reason to dislike some of the books sold at Borders, but only one happens to have recently gotten violent about such things.

Here's a statement from Bet... (Below threshold)
smitty:

Here's a statement from Beth Bingham, a spokeswoman for Border's:

"We absolutely respect our customers right to choose what they wish to read and buy and we support the First Amdendment. And we absolutely support the right of Free Inquiry to publish the cartoons. We've just chosen not to carry this particular issue in our store."

Well, you make your choice and you live with it.Border's chooses to cave in to anticpated threats, that's their choice. My choice is not to patronize Border's in the future, that's my First Amendment right.

>Read the letter from the C... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Read the letter from the CEO that I linked and then tell me why you think Borders should be on the front line on this.

mantis... With all due respect buddy... You might want to read that again... slower this time.

and BTW- You're pissing aga... (Below threshold)
Paul:

and BTW- You're pissing against the tide on this one. You can't deny the overt hypocracy (/irony) of bragging about supporting banned books while banning others from your own shelves. You can try but you just can't do it.

"No one riots because of... (Below threshold)
smitty:

"No one riots because of the sale of Rushdie's books nowadays."

Yet the fatwa against Rushide has never been lifted, he is still a man under sentence of death, he still lives a marginalized life.

Well, it did last issue, an... (Below threshold)

Well, it did last issue, and it will next issue, just not the one that carries some cartoons.

"Not really, the magazine hardly sells at all."

...and yet it was worthwhile for Borders to carry it on their shelves before they came up with the idea of dropping it because someone wanted it banned for some fairly tame cartoons.

In other words, as an ex-employee, they don't care about you, they just care about their insurance going up a little bit.

"Maybe you didn't notice the reaction to newspapers printing the cartoons in Europe, or the fact that no major US newspaper has printed them. Why do you think that is?"

The word you're looking for is "cowardice."
The funny thing is that those same newspapers that continually print rude things about groups they don't particularly like as "brave" acts are failing completely when it comes to actually being brave. Another really funny thing is that I've seen those same cartoons in many places - usually hosted by one person, who is in much more direct risk than a bookstore would be (especially if *all* bookstores practiced what they preached).

mantis... With all due r... (Below threshold)
mantis:

mantis... With all due respect buddy... You might want to read that again... slower this time.

Read it just fine. Did I miss something?

You're pissing against the tide on this one.

There's a surprise.

You can't deny the overt hypocracy (/irony) of bragging about supporting banned books while banning others from your own shelves. You can try but you just can't do it.

Doesn't seem to be working, I'll give you that. Anyway, fine, it's ironic, and maybe hypocritical. The fact remains, as has been pointed out in this thread, that Borders sells many things that would be offensive to Muslims and other groups. They are not going to stop selling these things. I don't begrudge them their decision to not sell a magazine in the interest of safety. I can also see why, from a business point of view, they would not want to get involved in a sensitive political mess such as this. Kind of backfired, of course, but still...

> Read it just fine. Did I ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

> Read it just fine. Did I miss something?

I don't know, did you? ;-)


When books are banned, will... (Below threshold)

When books are banned, will only outlaws have books?

Irony abounds here, Free In... (Below threshold)
smitty:

Irony abounds here, Free Inquiry is published by the Secular Humanist Socity and it's read by "humanists, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics". I doubt many Whizbang reulars have read it, if they did, they probably oppose every printed word.

OTOH, Border's is headquartered in Ann Arbor, liberal ground zero in the Midwest. Its owners are proud of their liberalism and probably do read the magazine, they just won't sell it. Who knows what those crazy bomb throwers might do? (But Border's does opppose the stereotyping of Muslims.)

Meanwhile mantis dismisses the magazine on the basis that it "hardly sells at all". That proves it's all a tempest in a teapot.

Dammit, I've been had! Fin... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Dammit, I've been had! Fine, the letter from Josefowicz is not real, and I should learn to read comment threads before I link to something. Vanderleun sure did his homework though. ;)

Meanwhile mantis dismiss... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Meanwhile mantis dismisses the magazine on the basis that it "hardly sells at all". That proves it's all a tempest in a teapot.

A sidenote at most. My argument would be the same if Time were running the cartoons.

mantis,If "Time" w... (Below threshold)
smitty:

mantis,

If "Time" were running the cartoons, Border's wouldn't have the cojones to pull the magazine off its shelves, the media uproar would be too great. In the case of Free Inquiry, it's just a marginal magazine that few read and a bunch of yapping right wing blogs.

Of course, "Time" doesn't have the cojones to print the cartoons either, wouldn't be prudent, wouldn't be sensitive.

mantis,Border's wo... (Below threshold)
smitty:

mantis,

Border's would never have the cojones to pull "Time" magazine, the MSM uproar would be too great. Pulling Free Inquiry was no big deal to anyone but the publishers of Free Inquiry and some yapping right wing blogs.

Of course, "Time" would never have the cojones to print the cartoons, wouldn't be prudent, wouldn't be sensitive.

Sorry about the double post... (Below threshold)
smitty:

Sorry about the double post. Too much editing, not enough attention paying.

A few less copies of Free I... (Below threshold)
John:

A few less copies of Free Inquiry cluttering up the world. Where's the harm?

Has anyone noticed that the same group (Council on Secular Humanism) seems to have about a dozen different versions of the same magazine under various names? So far as I know, none of them sell. It's an atheist fundraising letter masquerading as a magazine.

I think most would agree th... (Below threshold)
James:

I think most would agree that if people see that Borders will not carry material that they normally sell due to a perceived threat (real or imagined), then more threats will end up being made in the future. It's just that simple, unfortunately. That's precisely the problem with newspapers not showing the cartoons that caused all the protests. Newspapers and Borders can be sure that more threats will be used in the future if certain radicals see that it works in getting them to do what they want.

>Dammit, I've been had!... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Dammit, I've been had!

Thought so. ;-)

P

Mantis, your posture is hil... (Below threshold)
Jaibones:

Mantis, your posture is hilarious on this; you must be a liberal! You have embraced the following positions in a series of posts:

- Borders celebration of "banned books" is principled,
- Borders ban on Free Inquiry is not a ban, per se, but a "policy," (heh)
- It would be a big deal -- indeed it would not stand -- if the cartoons were in a magazine that actually sells more than 2 copies of each issue,
- and the fact that Borders has no apparent problem selling Rushdie's work -- in flagrant violation of the Fatwa! -- is irrelevant.

Here, let me spell it for you: i-r-o-n-y.

Frankly Borders is in enoug... (Below threshold)
Iomegaman:

Frankly Borders is in enough financial hotwater , th scuttlebutt is they have to pull a rabbit outta the hat by the final quarter or they will be down to thier final quarter.

I say we ban borders...of course that brings up the whole immigration enchilada...

Lets try this again for all... (Below threshold)
Darren:

Lets try this again for all the simpletons here shall we:
Business' DO NOT BAN BOOKS!! Goverments do. Business' choose not to carry and item or sell in certain areas. Those are business (policy) decisions. Not Banning Anything. Making a businees decision.
I though you conservatives were for the market place? Seems pretty hard to square all the WHINING going on here about a business making a business decision with a 'Free Market' stance. Or. are really on for a free market when it benefits you?
Your pick.

Let's try this again, too:<... (Below threshold)

Let's try this again, too:

Yeah, they really do.

You might also note that one darling of the Silly Left - Michael Moore - wrote an entire essay complaining that he was "Banned by Borders," in 1996...


It just occurred to me that... (Below threshold)
AST:

It just occurred to me that this overreaction by Muslims to any depiction of the Prophet is a kind of inverted idolatry. I don't think Mohammed would think that he should be the cause of so much violence and threats. The reactions to these cartoons is so vehement that it makes the whole "Islam preaches peace" line pretty hard for westerners to swallow.

Darren, I am a business own... (Below threshold)
Bill:

Darren, I am a business owner and I ban things. I have a printing business and there are certain types of material which are, indeed, banned from my presses. Border's made the decision to ban the magazine from their premises. Call it what you will, a magazine that is normally found there is not available. They are too cowardly to act upon their own allegeded principle of supporting banned material. I'm sure the magazine is also banned in many Muslim countries.

Mantis, your posture is ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mantis, your posture is hilarious on this; you must be a liberal! You have embraced the following positions in a series of posts:

I am a liberal, yes, as to whether I have embraced certain positions, let's see:

- Borders celebration of "banned books" is principled,

I didn't say it was principled, I said it was used in an effort to sell books. I don't call that principled, but it's a business, not a church.

- Borders ban on Free Inquiry is not a ban, per se, but a "policy," (heh)

Semantic argument again. I don't really think that what a business chooses not to sell constitutes a "ban". Is anyone else prohibited from selling this magazine outside of this company? Doesn't sound like a ban to me, but whatever.

- It would be a big deal -- indeed it would not stand -- if the cartoons were in a magazine that actually sells more than 2 copies of each issue,

Actually, I've already said the opposite. Try to read the whole thread next time.

- and the fact that Borders has no apparent problem selling Rushdie's work -- in flagrant violation of the Fatwa! -- is irrelevant.

No one is rioting over Rushdie's work these days, thus no potential threat to customers and employees (as I've already said, once again).

I get the irony, it's just ok with me if Borders sacrifices a little irony in the name of safety. Maybe if the current administration instituted an irony-free foreign policy, such an argument would have a leg to stand on.




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