Monday, April 03, 2006

keeping Borders safe

The good folks over at the Institute for Secular Humanism published the volatile Danish cartoon of the prophet Mo in a recent issue of their magazine Free Inquiry. Then they promptly returned to their usual irrevelance. Were it not for the execs up at Waldenbooks and Borders, specifically, up there in picturesque Ann Arbor (in Michigan, which incidentally has a large Muslim population). They refused to carry the issue, inciting a blogstorm of protest in the right hemisphere of the internet, including this terse condemnation (with a specious citation of Rushdie!) by Roger L. Simon:

As a former President of the PEN Center USA (western US branch of PEN), I am calling for that organization to stand up against Borders/Waldenbooks. The chain has "chosen not to carry the April-May issue of the magazine Free Inquiry due to the Muhammad cartoons contained therein." As the leading writers' organization involved in the defense of free expression (cf. Salman Rushdie), PEN should be in the forefront of the fight against this kind of de facto censorship by bookstore chains.
The CEO of Borders gives the poison pen performance of the year, dripping acid upon, among others, Mr. Simon's post above("Calling PEN"):
"Thank you for calling. Your message is very important to us. Press one to report homophobic or racist censorship anywhere including thought crimes. Press two to report publishers who offer less than two million dollars for the story of your "kidnapping" by Iraqi extremists and your two month vacation in the Rachael Corrie Health Spa, Baghdad. If you are calling to report the suppression of free speech in the name of Allah, it is to laugh. Just hang up."

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