Tattered Cover again shows grit

Denver bookstore once more stands tall for freedom while its competitors quail

April 8, 2006

by David Kopel

Although I usually write about the newspapers, Colorado's bookstores are an essential part of the broader Colorado media. A person who read every word of both Denver dailies, but who never read books or magazines, would be terribly lacking in critical perspective on public affairs.

Free Inquirymagazine is published by the Council on Secular Humanism, which promotes a sophisticated form of evangelical atheism. The April/May issue includes a section on the Danish cartoons, and reprints of four of the famous cartoons. The bookstore megachains Borders and Waldenbooks, which are part of the same company, announced that they would not carry the Free Inquiryissue ("Bookstores cite safety in pulling cartoons," Rocky Mountain News,March 30). The corporation's press release announced that, in essence, the corporation was surrendering to Islamist terrorists who might commit violence against the bookstores.

The abject cowardice of Borders/Waldenbooks contrasts markedly with the courage of the Tattered Cover, an independent bookstore which has long played a stellar role in defending First Amendment values. Of course the Tattered Cover is selling this month's Free Inquiry.In 1989, when the Iranian tyrants issued a death sentence against distribution of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses,the Tattered Cover received threatening phone calls warning against selling the book. The Tattered Cover made a point of displaying the book prominently, sold many copies, and donated a quarter of the proceeds to an anti-censorship group.

Likewise, when the anti-drug North Metro Task Force tried to force the Tattered Cover to turn over customer records, the bookstore fought the case all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court - winning a unanimous 2002 decision which significantly expanded the Colorado Constitution's protection of the privacy rights of book buyers. In 1981 the Tattered Cover brought a successful suit against an overbroad Colorado law criminalizing the display of "obscene" materials where a minor might see them. In 1989, Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis led a successful campaign against a ballot initiative that would have expanded censorship laws.

Some independent bookstores refuse to stock politically incorrect books; for example, City Lights in San Francisco refuses to sell Oriana Fallaci's new book The Force of Reason,because it defends the values of Western civilization against the Islamist campaign to suppress civil liberty and women's rights.

The Tattered Cover, though, offers its customers a full spectrum of books and magazines. The Tattered Cover puts itself on the line to defend free inquiry, and customers who value their own First Amendment rights should patronize brave stores like the Tattered Cover, and shun the pusillanimous Borders/Waldenbooks.

There has been no shortage of articles in the Denver papers and the rest of the media about the alleged impending financial crisis that the Palestinian Authority will face, now that Israel, the United States and Canada have cut off monetary transfers to the PA, because it is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas. Yet in the Denver papers, not a single story has mentioned an essential fact about the PA government's finances: The PA collects no taxes from Palestinians.

Any analysis of the PA's supposed fiscal crisis should explore why the PA is unable or unwilling to tax its own people. American taxpayers are surely entitled to find out why own their taxes have been delivered as foreign aid to a government which will not/cannot tax its own people.

I found out about the PA's no-tax policy by reading a column by Barry Rubin, of the Global Research in International Affairs Center (gloria.idc.ac.il), an excellent source of information on Mideast issues.

Both the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Postran an Associated Press article April 3 about an AP/Ipsos poll which found a small majority of Americans supporting the grant of legal temporary worker status to illegal aliens. Neither paper reported on the NBC News/Wall Street Journalpoll that found 37 percent in favor of the temporary worker plan, and 59 percent opposed. The NBC/Journalpoll also reported that 71 percent would be more likely to support a candidate who favored tighter controls on immigration, while only 11 percent would be less likely.

If you care about opinion polls, then instead of relying on the selective reports in the Denver dailies, check out Polling Report (www.pollingreport.com), which provides data from numerous major polls and also reprints the full text of the polling questions, which can significantly affect the results. Mark Blumenthal (www.mysterypollster.com) offers highly sophisticated analysis for readers who are interested in learning from polls, rather than just using polls selectively to produce talking points.

In last Tuesday's local elections, Granby's mayor defeated an attempt to recall him from office. The Postand the Boulder Daily Cameradiscussed the election in their Wednesday morning editions, but apparently the papers were sent to the printer too early to include the result of the election. But Deborah Frazier's article for the Newsincluded the result, and the exact election tally.


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