Borders Cowed By Cartoons

Tipped off by Ed Brayton at Dispatches From the Culture Wars, (a favorite daily read,) I just sent this via email to Borders Group, Inc.:

Dear Borders Group, Inc.,

According to the Associated Press, Borders Group has chosen not to carry an issue of Free Inquiry magazine, a periodical that is normally stocked (I know, because I buy it from you,) because it has reprinted four of the Danish cartoons that have caused such a senseless uproar around the world.

Not in the U.S., mind you. There have been no reports of violence related to the cartoons at all in the U.S.

But Borders has decided that it shouldn't carry the issue anyway.

“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. Where is the evidence of risk to your customers and employees? Do you really believe that fundamentalists are going to riot in the bookstore, or threaten those buying or selling the magazine? No one would have even known what was *in* the magazine unless they were looking to purchase it, if Borders hadn't brought attention to it by refusing to carry it!

“We absolutely respect our customers' right to choose what they wish to read and buy and we support the First Amendment,” Bingham said. “And we absolutely support the rights of Free Inquiry to publish the cartoons. We've just chosen not to carry this particular issue in our stores.”

And in so choosing you've limited Americans' access to the information that we want from the source that we normally get it from – you. That *is* censorship, and it is in direct conflict with the spirit of the First Amendment.

I have typically shopped at Borders weekly, and I have always loved the wide selection available. I have always been able to find material on the most off-beat, controversial topics without a problem. My confidence in Borders has been shaken by this very unfortunate and misguided decision. Free Inquiry will receive my subscription today — but I don't know when I'll be back to Borders.