June 2, 2006Yes it is meaningful, Heather, and as someone who posts anonymously, I have given your reply some consideration.
I deeply appreciate your having taken the time to write and I fully understand your concern. I would like to provide some perspective on our decision.
First, I would like to state that Indigo as a company, and I personally, believe passionately in free speech. Free speech and freedom to write is the irrefutable cornerstone of democracy.
As a major bookseller in this country we recognize that we are seen and appreciated as a place which supports the free flow of ideas and writing. Mindful of this, we have always looked to carry the broadest possible selection of titles in our stores, and to make available at chapters.indigo.ca almost every title available in print. We make exceptions only under the following conditions which we have always been clear about:
1. We will not, to the best of our knowledge, sell child pornography.
2. We will not, to the best of our knowledge, sell material which provides detailed information on how to create weapons of mass destruction.
3. We will not, to the best of our knowledge, sell books which have as their sole intent the incitement toward the annihilation of whole groups within society.
Notwithstanding our policy, we would never, under any circumstance suggest that any book or magazine should be censored or banned in this country. Only governments can make this type of decision and if asked, we would always opt for a fully free and open society.
In February of this year, cartoons of Mohamed from the Danish newspaper Jullands-Posten were first published in Canada by The Western Standard publication. Our decision to not carry this issue of The Western Standard magazine was strictly one of safety for our customers and employees. At the time, there were incendiary incidents in many places in the world because of these cartoons. As you no doubt know, many people were badly hurt, a few were killed, and a great deal of physical destruction took place.
Some might say: “We simply can’t be intimidated…we must stand up for free speech…” However, such a decision must be a personal one. We did not want to take what we felt was a serious risk on a company-wide basis. During working hours we are responsible for the safety of 7,500 people who work with us. We made what I still believe was an appropriate and correct decision.
The situation with Harper’s magazine is different in that the conditions have changed. But although a great deal of the fervour has died down, we chose to err on the side of caution and remain consistent with our initial position.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write. I hope your feel this note provides a meaningful response.
I conclude, as Charles said in the comments to our previous post on this issue, that what Heather Reisman is really saying is not that she respects Islam, but on the contrary that we cannot trust at least a certain number of Muslims in Canada to act like decent Candians and to respect freedom of speech, the physical security of (non-Muslim) persons, and private property.
She may be right that it must sometimes be a personal decision when to stand up to Islamic violence, and whom to endanger when doing so; on the other hand, unless we want to become a society living under Sharia law, at some point we must take Canadians' general opposition to imperialistic Islam for granted, as a precondition of living and working in a free Canada. One copy of Harper's is nothing much to give up (especially if you have no appetite for anti-American leftist swill). But Reisman's argument becomes dubious when we extend it to larger concerns. If the Islamic imperialists demanded, for example, that we shut down the hog industry, or the academic study and criticism of Islam, do we do so to protect all the employees in those industries? Of course not; at some point "we" (it is no longer a very "personal decision") have to tell our employees that we are at war and we'd all better get used to it. Or, we can all submit. Heather's personal decision is a fruit of western, not Islamic, history.