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.
The magazine, published by the Council for Secular Humanism in suburban Amherst, includes four of the drawings that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, including one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.
Islamic tradition bars depiction of Muhammad to prevent idol worship, which is strictly prohibited.
Actually, it’s not so much an Islamic tradition as it is an Islamic law. The riots against the cartoons were orchestrated by Islamic states in an effort to enforce their laws worldwide. It’s The Satanic Verses controversy redux (this time with extra violence)
I worked as a clerk in university bookstore when Khomeini put the hit out on Salman Rushdie. When we heard the news that bookstores were being threatened, the clerks got together and decided to make a stand for free speech by putting Satanic Verses in the window.
Our manager stopped us. She told us to take it down because a bookstore had been firebombed in San Francisco. We objected, saying that the best response to this threat is to put the book in every window – to diffuse the threat. Besides, this was a threat to free speech. Isn’t free speech what bookstores are all about?
She told us that if anyone was hurt as a result, it would be our fault.
That was one of the most blatant examples I’d seen of how terrorism is, literally, a hostage situation. A tiny group of radicals can hold large groups of people, even in free nations, hostage. All they have to do is is kill or nearly kill a few people, usually randomly and in a particularly awful way, then coast for years on cheap threats and intimidation.
This small group of intimdators could be easily overpowered by the millions of hostages, but in these situations the hostages nearly always cooperate with the intimidators. When they fight, they fight with each other. Most hostages follow and enforce the intimidators’ demands. They make dissident hostages or even potential rescuers feel as if they, not the terrorists, are endangering lives.
As we see in current efforts by the right and the left to appease or ‘reform’ the intimidators, the Stockholm syndrome is the norm. We spend much of our time bickering amongst ourselves, whining about which is the better strategy, appeasement or ‘reform’ – we spend little to no time discussing the weaknesses of the intimdators.
I guess Stockholm syndrome is just a sad fact of human nature, more of a bug than a feature.
Back in the bookstore, we took the display down but put it back later when the manager went home. The copies all sold the next day, nobody blew us up, but despite this, I still felt guilty about taking that ‘risk’.
Should we complain to Borders? As a former clerk, I’d guess that Border’s employees don’t any need more grief then they’re already getting. I think the best way to protest is to finance the very few non-Stockholm sydrome sufferers out there.
So support free speech advocates. Buy Free Inquiry Magazine. Get a subscription, sell a bunch of copies outside (maybe outside Borders?). Terrorism only works if we cooperate.