Here’s more from the Blogosphere on Borders’ decision not to sell magazines with Motoons. First up is Robert Bidinotto, publisher of the subscription-only magazine The New Individualist, which is running the most well-known cartoon on its cover, who has an open letter to Borders on his blog. Here’s an excerpt:
Let me be clear: I did not publish the cartoon to offend Muslims. I did so as a profound matter of principle: to stand up to those who are trying to annihilate our First Amendment rights. I did so because here, in America, nobody can be permitted to get away with coercion and intimidation against anyone’s freedom to write and speak and publish. I did so because I learned many years ago, as a child on school playgrounds, that when you surrender to bullies, you grant them dictatorial power over your life.
By its public declaration of pre-emptive surrender, Borders has given the bullies of our age a clear message: Your intimidation works. Your bullying works. Your coercion works. Your terrorist threats work.
Borders has set a morally irresponsible and frighteningly dangerous precedent. It has told fanatics everywhere that all they need to do in order to obliterate First Amendment rights is to growl menacingly — at which point a leading bookstore chain in America will clear its shelves of anything that could possibly offend the thug of the moment.
Having now encouraged the use of violence and intimidation, which magazine or book are you next prepared to expunge from your stores? Will you remove books about abortion, for fear of provoking some “right to life” fanatic? Will you eliminate Jewish magazines or black publications, for fear of upsetting neo-Nazis and skinheads? Scientology has been known to intimidate critics; are you about to bow to their demands for “proper” treatment in magazines and books, by eliminating all critical material? Or if some investigative journalist probes organized crime, will you hide his work in the back room, for fear of retaliation from the Mob?
You have given a sorry example of where such capitulation begins. But where does it end?
As Tim Blair notes, there was a time, not so long ago, that Borders attempted to shine a light on the dangers of banning books:
In 2001, Borders hosted events to highlight the tragedy of banned books:
Borders Books, Music, and Cafe, 4030 Commonwealth Ave., hosted a reading in honor of banned books week. This was the first in a series of three readings in the Eau Claire area to increase awareness about banned books. Nine area residents read excerpts from their favorite banned books.
One of the readers, English lecturer Elizabeth Preston, said at the time: