Sunday, June 04, 2006

Boycott of Chapters, Indigo, Coles and Starbucks

To Heather Reisman, CEO Indigo:

I am boycotting Indigo, Chapters, Coles and all Starbucks coffee shops for the month of June in protest of your censorship of the June issue of Harper's magazine. I am posting this email on my blog and calling on other Canadians to join me in this boycott.

Your book chain is too large and influential in the Canadian publishing industry for you to start censoring individual publications you don't like. Your actions could (and likely will) make publishers afraid to publish controversial material in the fear that you will censor them.

I hope you will revise your censorship policy.




I sent that email to Chapters-Indigo and Starbucks today. By the way, Starbucks is not (as far as I know) involved in the censorship by Chapters-Indigo (which also owns Coles), but since the two companies are partners in the stores, I figure it might be effective pressure to also boycott Starbucks. I urge you to please join me in this boycott - we cannot stand still while the country's dominant book seller dictates what can be sold in Canada. This is not the first time Heather Reisman has banned a publication.

For more information, see:

- Globe article: Indigo pulls controversial Harper's off the shelves
- The Cartoons: Mohammed Image Archive
- CanadianJournalist blog
- Harper's (there is a delay of a couple of months before Harper's posts articles online)


1 comment:

Yappa said...

This is the reply I got from Indigo:

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 almost every title available in print. We make exceptions only under the following conditions which we have always been clear about:

Indigo Content Policy
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.

The issue with Harper’s was not one of content policy. It was strictly an idiosyncratic issue of employee safety. Here is some background:

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 related to 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. Having said that, we take your comments very seriously and will factor them into future thinking.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write. I hope you feel this note provides a meaningful response.

Yours sincerely,

Heather Reisman