Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.
“For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority,” Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.
Well, at least they are being truthful, for whatever the hell that's worth. Certainly a Muslim suicide bombing inside of a Borders might scare away a few customers...or maybe not, knowing the American tendancy for defiance in the face of threats. What's important here are two things:
-These retail outlets are acknowleding that Muslims (extremists? or just "Muslims?) pose a physical threat to their customers based on the reading material they may choose to provide.
- rather than stand up for the freedom of speech, which essentially is the sole reason of a bookstore's existance, they feel it is somehow "safer" to aquiesce to said threat of violence. Seems like Borders and Waldenbooks forgot how many Americans since the mid-1700's have fought and died for the very right they are willing to throw out the window at the first glowering face they encounter...think any of the other fascist groups out there are taking notes? From The Bidinotto Blog; an open letter to Borders:
Your company's craven policy of capitulation in the face of the mere hypothetical threat of terrorism is absolutely appalling -- a complete moral abdication that only encourages those threatening our rights and liberties.
Andrew Sullivan wants a boycott:
Sharia: 1. The West: 0. If you care about freedom of expression, don't buy books from Borders or Waldenbooks. And if you want to draw a lesson from the entire episode, it's obvious: violence against free writers and artists gets results. We have all but invited more.
Tim Blair has a new name for our favorite chickenspit bookstore:
BORDERS BUK-BUK-BUK-BUK-BUK BOOKS!
English lecturer Elizabeth Preston, said ... “Where is the line between banning a book and banning a group of people from reading? Who is in charge of drawing that line?”
Beats me. Ask Borders.
And at NYU, discussions regarding the cartoons of doom are now limited in size by University decree (hey, isn't the freedom of assembly actually in the Constitution somewhere? And they say it is the conservatives that are trying to turn America into a police state!) in a shocking display of cowardice in the face of a danger to our basic freedoms...Volokh provides common sense to those whom need it:
...most private universities have generally understood their mission as including enriching the intellectual lives of their students and fostering debate among students, including by helping the students spread the message to the broader community....
....But it seems to me that leading universities should be at the forefront of defending speech against those who would suppress it, rather than giving in to the vandals' and thugs' heckler's veto.
Atlas Shrugged was at NYU (and no, the cartoons of doom were not even allowed to be shown) and has photos, links, and great commentary on both this issue and the Borders/Waldenbooks fiasco. I'll end with a telling quote from Atlas as she comments on the panel discussion:
It was painful to watch reasonable men arguing for a fundamental individual right. It was an indication of how far we have fallen.
Makes my stomach hurt.