While the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been busy supporting Simon & Schuster’s right to publish the controversial book “Dangerous” by Milo Yiannopoulos despite the book not having anything to do with comics or being in any real danger of censorship, The Booksmith, an independent bookstore in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, is taking a different approach. In a blog post this week, the store’s staff wrote:
While we at Booksmith value free speech and democratizing information at our bookstores, we also believe that this author crosses a line by promoting hate speech & bullying (here is a good article detailing why his isn’t just another conservative voice) and feel compelled to take action. We want to send a message; we also believe that our family of S&S writers should not be harmed by a boycott. So, over the past week, we’ve discussed with our staff and community the pros and cons of various responses at length, and we’re proud to announce our decision.
Booksmith is committed to the following, effective immediately:
- We will not be stocking or special ordering Dangerous or anything else from Threshold Editions. No royalty revenue will come from Booksmith.
- Booksmith will reduce our orders with Threshold’s parent company Simon & Schuster by 50% in order to communicate pressure to the corporation as a whole. While we respect Simon’s decision to publish any book, we reserve the right to allocate our discretionary inventory dollars with publishers who act with ethical & moral standards consistent with our own.
- While we are not enacting a sweeping boycott of all S&S titles, for the foreseeable future, 40% of all S&S sales (which is to say all of our profit) will be turned right around and donated to the ACLU
Threshold Editions is the publishing imprint of Simon & Schuster that’s publishing the book, whose mission is listed on their website as:
To “provide a forum for the creative people, bedrock principles, and innovative ideas of contemporary conservatism” and to chronicle the historic reforms those people and principles would bring.
The imprint has published books by Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, amongst others, and is either designed specifically to promote a conservative political ideology, or, at least, to exploit it for profit. The very existence of this book, and its resulting controversy, play into a general strategy that helped Trump win the election.
If you don’t like that, and you want to do something about it, perhaps you’ll be inspired by The Booksmith’s actions, and want to adopt a similar approach yourself, using your wallet to send a message to businesses who support political causes you disagree with. But is doing so censorship, as some critics insist? Nah. In fact, using your money as influence is one of the purest examples of capitalism in action, and encouraging others to do so is an exercise in free speech, surely as much as it is Simon & Schuster’s right to publish a line of books promoting conservative ideology by an author whose ideas and actions many find repellent.
So do what feels right to you.
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