Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sniveling corporate cowards

McBook stores Borders and Walden will not stock the new issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains the controversial cartoons of Mohammed (sorry, I've dropped the "Prophet" adjective ... it's like referring to Christ as "the savior" Jesus, which is fine, but opinion, not fact) that caused such consternation in the Middle East.

"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.

Since there weren't any major protests against the satiricial drawings the first time around in the U.S., the violence excuse seems an obvious canard. The real reason, I suspect, is fear of offending a certain demographic.

"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."

In other words, we've caved in to extremists.

"What is at stake is the precious right of freedom of expression," said Paul Kurtz, editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry. "Cartoons often provide an important form of political satire ... To refuse to distribute a publication because of fear of vigilante violence is to undermine freedom of press — so vital for our democracy."

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