The Wal-Mart Thought Police

Anonymous Patron writes "AlterNet Says The 'everyday low prices' superchain refuses to carry books and music that dare criticize conservative values. Crucial, and hopefully successful, as these campaigns are, another lesson to take from Wal-Mart's censorship policy is the danger of corporate conglomizoration that stifles free media under the misleading name of radically conservative "family values.""

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If I owned a bookstore...

If I owned a bookstore it would not carry books by authors I don't care for. I can also be sure that there would be no Michael Moore DVDs.


That is not censorship or banning books, that is just what I would want to carry. Perhaps someone next door to me could open a store and sell those titles I won't carry.


That said I don't think my book store would be very profitable but it would reflect what I wanted to carry. To assign some social importance to what Wal*Mart carries elevates them above their station. It is a discount store selling to people who shop in discount stores. I doubt many are looking for political or controversial books.


Wal*Mart does not sell rolling papers either, but that does not mean you can't make your own cigaraettes.


It is a mass merchandiser, not the LOC!


If you don't like it shop somewhere else. Wal*Mart is never my first choice and I seldom go there, I prefer my local shops where I know the owner who often waits on me, but I am not about to pass judgement on people who shop at Wal*Mart to save money because their financial circumstances require frugality. If I had a wife and children to support you can bet WM would be a choice for me, but as I don't I can be more slelective how I spend the few dollars I get from being a librarian.


Maslow trumps politics everytime.

quit whining

Don't shop there then. Either:

a. go to the nearest competitor
b. shop online
c. if you don't have a computer at home go to the library or
d. go without

Left Coast Books

WalMart feels that many of it's customers are conservative. They are probably right. They sell fishing equitment and gun racks for goodness sake. So they don't want to have books that don't offend their clientele.
Left Coast Books feels that many of it's customers are liberal. They sell little Buddah statues and karmic healing stones for goodness sake. So they don't want to have books that don't offend their clientele.
I figure if it works for Left Coast Books it should work for WalMart.

Scaring me

I know I should be quiet, but I can't seem to help myself. I have a question and a comment:

Did you folks even read the article?

You scare me.

From TFA:

Take, for example, Wal-Mart's refusal to sell Sheryl Crow's self-titled album in 1996, citing objections to a lyric that criticized Wal-Mart for selling handguns (a practice that the chain has since discontinued), which they felt was "unfair and irresponsible."


[...]


Even something as potentially broadly appealing, positive, and utterly non-offensive as a T-shirt reading "Someday a woman will be president" was pulled from the sales floor because "the message goes against Wal-Mart family values."


[...]


the family-values red flag was absent for the notorious anti-Semitic forgery _The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion_, which describes a vast Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. Booksellers like Amazon.com that do offer it at least include a disclaimer that describes it as a "pernicious fraud," and "one of the most infamous, and tragically influential, examples of racist propaganda ever written."

Wal-Mart's site, in contrast, said "If ... The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs."


As of a survey taken in 2004, WalMart.com also carried the 1915 film _Birth of a Nation_, and the novel _The Clansman_ on which it was based, as well as _Myths of American Slavery_ (described as "a sincere attempt to defeat the spread of misinterpretations and misrepresentations that continue to bedevil race relations and contaminate America's political landscape"), _The South Was Right!_ ("how the South was an independent country invaded, captured, and still occupied by a vicious aggressor"), and _Was Jefferson Davis Right?_ (JD "was innocent of all of the heinous allegations made against him").

Re:Scaring me

I read the article and it comes across to me as a very biased and ancedotal Alternet piece. What scares you so much about the comments that have been made?

Deception

In the previous comment there was this paragraph:
As of a survey taken in 2004, WalMart.com also carried the 1915 film _Birth of a Nation_, and the novel _The Clansman_ on which it was based, as well as _Myths of American Slavery_ (described as "a sincere attempt to defeat the spread of misinterpretations and misrepresentations that continue to bedevil race relations and contaminate America's political landscape"), _The South Was Right!_ ("how the South was an independent country invaded, captured, and still occupied by a vicious aggressor"), and _Was Jefferson Davis Right?_ (JD "was innocent of all of the heinous allegations made against him").

When you read the paragraph the idea conveyed is that WalMart carries racist books. In the article in Alternet you were told that WalMart is not carrying some books that have non-conservative views. When you contrast this against the racist books they seem to carry many people would think that WalMart is very bad. But give this a try. Notice that the paragraph that says WalMart had the book "The Clansman" said that the survey was taken of Walmart.com. Go to Walmart .com and search for both of these books.

Ceremonies of the Heart: Celebrating Lesbian Unions

The Lesbian Polyamory Reader: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Casual Sex

You will find that both are offered for sale at WalMart.com. The reason both "The Clansman" and a book about casual lesbian sex are offered through WalMart.com is because they are probably drop shipping through a major book distributor. They load the entire Books In Print on their site. You order the book and their supplier drop ships the book. Since the entire Books In Print is loaded on the WalMart.com site it is very easy to find piles of scandalous books as well as books about the Clan from the Civil War. You can find almost any book in print on the site. So now you can see that the previous comment that mentions that WalMart is selling "Birth of a Nation" and "The Clansman" is very deceptive. WalMart did not select those two books to specifically sell just like I doubt they specifically selected the casual lesbian sex book. Their site has all the Books in Print.

More conservative books at WalMart.com

Here is another very conservative book at WalMart.com.

Re:Scaring me

I read the article although it does drone on. I even read the part about the Left Behind series which would put me right to sleep if I read more than six pages of any one of them (but they are popular in my library) and the Carlin book which is just as popular.

I also read the comments that were posted after the article, including the one about the Wal*Mart movie. That was the basis of my comment about lifting the retailer above its station. Wal*Mart is not determining anyone's values, simply reflecting those of its shoppers.

Boo!

Re:Deception

nicely done, well said

Wally World

Shopping at WalMart hurts America, anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate.Check out what PBS has to say if you are not firmly in the head in the sand camp:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walm art/

Re:Left Coast Books

Going fishing signifies that you're conservative?

Re:Wally World

1) The statement "anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate" shows that you are open to debate. What a great argument to make. Look how silly it sounds when you apply your logic to another issue. The Iraq war is good for America anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate. Rather offensive comment is it not? It is also offensive when you use that type of comment is regards to WalMart.
2) Why does the PBS site ask the question "Is WalMart bad for America?" and then have a discussion section if anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate. The reason they have a discussion section is because there is two sides to this issue. Here is a quote directly from the PBS site Wal-Mart's "everyday low prices" benefit millions of American consumers, and it is Fortune magazine's number-one most admired company in the United States. But others argue that Wal-Mart is a bad bargain for American workers.
I shouldn't even respond to your flamebait comment ,me being to stupid and all, but I just wanted to point out that there are two sides to the issue and your name calling does not change that fact and is a very weak way to make your case.

Re:Wally World

You sir, are very entertaining. You are the living evidence of my disdain of those who support Walmart without being equipped to defend that position. I realize those 5 dollar sunbeam toasters seem to make everything worthwhile, but the end result to the American economy is devastation. I love how you cite, out of context, one paragraph, as representative of your point.Comparing my comment to a WAR in which human beings are dying is a desperate attempt to draw an analogy that cannot hold water any better than a sieve. Finally, attacking my comment as flamebait without being able to make a single point of your own shows everyone the name of the troll on this comment thread.I always find the ten percenters at the far end of the political spectrum so interesting, so please continue!

The WalMart Thought Police

This is a cut and paste from a previous LISNews topic dated August 8, 2005:
"What company, based in Arkansas, donated close to $3 million dollars for a brand-spanking-new children's library in Rogers?
You're right, it's Wal-Mart... ... just don't ask them to purchase any of those objectionable kids books if you know what we mean...

The grand opening and dedication was last Saturday, August 6th (day and date now confirmed by our very observant readers), with clowns, storytellers, singing cowboys, balloons, and lots of happy children. Story from the NorthWest Arkansas News ."

Why are we concerned about a few books when Wal-Mart is buying and supporting entire libraries? And I thought prostitution was illegal. Scary...

Re:Wally World

What???

I don't make a single point? Here let me cut and past one of the points that I made that you did not bother to address.
Why does the PBS site ask the question "Is WalMart bad for America?" and then have a discussion section if anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate. The reason they have a discussion section is because there is two sides to this issue.
You are the one that has not made a single point. All you did was say that people that do not get your viewpoint are to stupid to be educated. That is a childish argument that I think is very much flamebait. I am very confident that people reading this exchange will see you for what you are. A flamer that has not backed up their argument but has based their argument entirely on name calling.

Why WalMart is good for America.

Here is an article about why WalMart is good for America. I can only assume that the author is to stupid to be educated. The point is that there are two sides to this issue.

Article

Here is an academic article from the University of Missouri finding that Wal-Mart permanently raises local employment. Of course the academic that wrote this paper is probably to stupid to educate.

Re:Left Coast Books

When I see a bass fishing show on cable TV the guys in the boat do not often come across as very liberal. I sure there are some liberals that fish. (Members of PETA excepted, of course)

Re:Wally World

You madam, are very entertaining.

You state Comparing my comment to a WAR in which human beings are dying is a desperate attempt to draw an analogy that cannot hold water any better than a sieve.
Read carefully what I said, Look how SILLY it sounds when you apply your logic to another issue. The Iraq war is good for America anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate. Rather offensive comment is it not? It is also offensive when you use that type of comment is regards to WalMart.
The above comment is exactly what was in my first comment I was making the point that the statement "The Iraq war is good for America anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate." is a silly statement. But it is being used to show how the name calling argument of "anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate" is not really an argument.

Re:The WalMart Thought Police

just don't ask them to purchase any of those objectionable kids books if you know what we mean
Do you have any proof that WalMart censored the acquistions of this new library or are you just conjecturing?
Is the point that private industry should not support libraries?

Re:Wally World

Shopping at WalMart hurts America, anyone over the age of 18 that is incapable of recognizing that fact is too stupid to educate.

Thanks, that was hilarious.

Rural dose of reality

I hate to interrupt a perfectly good flame war, but early on in the discussion, people were stating, "if you don't like Wal*Mart, just don't shop there."

I have to point out that there are lots of places where that just isn't an option. In rural upstate NY where my sister lives, Wal*Mart is truly the only store in town.

Next town with stores is 35 miles. Sis already lives 14 miles out of town. So we are talking about devoting almost 2 hours to go elsewhere. Sis has internet access at home, but most of her neighbors do not. Though there is internet access during the limited hours the all-volunteer public library is open, the majority of the rural poor is very low skilled.

I could go on. I just want to remind the blithe "shop elsewhere" folks that for some there are no real alternatives to Wal*Mart. I hate the place; read Nickeled and Dimed anyone? But I was glad when it opened, because it is better than nothing.

Re:Wally World

I realize those 5 dollar sunbeam toasters seem to make everything worthwhile, but the end result to the American economy is devastation.

Well now, here is an opportunity to discuss macroeconomics. Tell me how Wal Mart is bad for America. GDP? Personal Income? Unemployment?

Re:If I owned a bookstore...

If you owned a bookstore and refused to carry anything you personally disliked or disagreed with, you wouldn't be in business very long. Even specialty bookstores concentrating in a single subject area and building their business on their depth and knowledge in that area, can't survive carrying only the stuff in their subject areas that the owners agree with.

And most bookstores will special-order the titles they choose not to carry or find it not worthwhile, business-wise, to have in stock.

Wal-Mart isn't a bookstore, of course, and I expect their selection to be extremely limited and heavily skewed towards bestsellers and impulse buys. And since Wal-Mart really, really, isn't marketing service, I don't expect them to even know how to go about doing a special order for a book customer. What's pernicious about their bookselling policies, and merits the "thought police" label, is the way their "family values" policy is applied--a t-shirt predicting that a woman will be president someday violates their "family values" policy, but The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an infamous anti-semitic fraud, does not. In fact, they were selling the Protocols in their online store with a blurb that concealed the fact that it's a fraud, and blathered about how important it was if it was real. Trying to put lipstick on this pig is going to get you nowhere, nowhere at all.

Re:Rural dose of reality

Next town with stores is 35 miles. Sis already lives 14 miles out of town.

Let's see. Without Wal Mart your sister would be driving nearly 100 mile to fetch some toothpaste and deodorant. At $2.40 per gallon of gas to boot.

Re:Rural dose of reality

No duh. Ergo, my comment "better than nothing." I do remember when the town had a 5 & 10 cent store (where I bought Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys), two "markets", the public library had a staff (pacem Miss Emory), etc. No, that was not before the Panic of 1893, though I understand that was when things economic started to go south.

Me, I left a long time ago. But I visit, I listen, and I understand that there are still plenty of places in the USA where Wal*Mart's role is provider of everything--jobs, food, clothes, books, music, film. That does scare me, no matter your perception of the people who live there.

Fishing

WOAH! I'm pretty damn left, and I fish. After that little statement, I can assure you that you will NOT be getting any smoked Trout from me. Of course, in order to send that to you, I'd have to catch something. The only fish I usually catch are the suicidal ones that are willing to wait for me while I finish the chapter in the book I brought.

Re:Rural dose of reality

Me, I left a long time ago.

So you really don't know, or care, how Wal Mart may actually improve the lives of those in rural areas.

I see your reality now.

WalMart has "Two Mommies"

A couple more titles available from WalMart.com:

Heather Has Two Mommies

King & King

Review of Nickel and Dimed

Review of Nickel and Dimed From the review "Why do some people think that you can only be intelligent if you hold some leftist, egalitarian view of life? I wonder what she would make of my bookshelf, where she would find lefties such as Palast, Carville, and herself next to Hayek, Limbaugh, and Bennett. I have Bibles and apologetics works next to books on atheism, the occult, and other eastern religions. I have a ton of business books next to stuff by Dave Barry, next to books on robotics and artificial intelligence, next to Traci Lords’ biography.

Re:From TFA:

the family-values red flag was absent for the notorious anti-Semitic forgery _The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion_, which describes a vast Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. Booksellers like Amazon.com that do offer it at least include a disclaimer that describes it as a "pernicious fraud," and "one of the most infamous, and tragically influential, examples of racist propaganda ever written." Wal-Mart's site, in contrast, said "If ... The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs."
Do you have anything to show this book was ever in the a physical WalMart or was it just on their website? The website seems to have all books in print. I am suprised that you feel books need to be labeled. Can't we leave it up to the reader to decide?

Re:quit whining

As I write this someone has moderated Greg's comment to offtopic. That is so uncool because his comment is on topic. That is just moderation focused on a dislike of his content. Especially from librarians that is super uncool.

Re:If I owned a bookstore...

In regards to your mention of the book "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" being sold by WalMart your argument is specious. WalMart sells all books in print so you will find a wide variety of conservative and liberal books available via their website. To try to read meaning into the inclusion of one book when all books in print are available on their site is specious.

Re:Rural dose of reality

Geez, one of us doesn't do so well with reading comprehension? Or am I somehow unclear? I do know, and care, about what effects the lives of my sister, the members of my brownie troop, my second grade teacher (still living, and I still visit), and the people I don't know living in underserved rural areas--the kids, in particular. I guess the fact that I started this part of this discussion doesn't weigh in at all with you.

Re:Review of Nickel and Dimed

Gevult. I think you missed an end quote, and yes, punctuation matters.

Did I say, "people can only be intelligent if they hold some leftist, egalitarian view of life"? No, never. You do not have to agree with me on anything for me to think you are intelligent. But you do have to engage in true discourse, with me, not with some construct of your own creation. Enough already, with attacking anything you construe as "leftist".

I have not brought up anything about politics in this conversation. I mentioned a book that includes a section on Wal*Mart. It is a fairly thought-provoking book on living on the minimum wage. I did not say I agreed with the author's politics. I am not that familiar with her; I just read the book, from a library, a few years ago. I tend not to own books, as I bought into that egalitarian institution, the public library, when I was young.

Re:The WalMart Thought Police

If you read my comment it indicates it is a "cut and paste" and references a previous article about 'The Wal-Mart Children's Library' which was originally posted by birdie on Monday August 08, @07:33PM -470.

The entire comment, with the exception of my last two or three sentences was in quotations. The comment just don't ask them to purchase any of those objectionable kids books if you know what we mean was contained in the origianl article I had cut and pasted. So I wasn't trying to prove that Wal-Mart had censored the acquisitions for this new libray.

What I conjecture--based on my personal experience--is that yes, they probably will censor acquisitions, particularly if they are footing close to $3 million dollars to fund the library.

I went to my own local Wal-Mart (I am one of those people who live in a rural community where Wal-Mart is the only option--unless you want to drive 30 miles) as an experiment to see if I could purchase America, by Jon Stewart and When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops, by George Carlin. I was told by the manager that they didn't have the books--although they had recieved the America book by mistake--and returned all copies. He went on to say that Wal-Mart contracts their book ordering from an outside source--and they choose not to carry certain books offered by the vendor.

The books, however, can be purchased on-line from Wal-Mart, but they do not carry them in their stores--where they can be viewed by the public. Apparently, based on studies that Wal-Mart has done, they have profiled their shoppers and based on these demographics know they do not like or purchase books, such as those previously mentioned, carried in their stores. That I did read somewhere--I just can't remember where. So, as a shopper at my local Wal-Mart I was unable to purchase When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops as a birthday gift for my husband, because I do not meet the profile of the average Wal-Mart shopper.

I wasn't trying to make the point that private industry should not support libraries. But since you ask, if private industry does support in entirety--or even the majority--of funding of a library it in essence becomes a private libray and not a public library, so it would give them the right to dictate acquisitions. I would conjecture there would be "strings" attached to a libray funded at the level of $3 million and already uses an outsourced vendor for its book department.

In my position at our public library I often ask private industry to become a "corporate sponsor" of a particular program--but I have never been told how I can use the money. I usually approach the business and tell them how I plan to use the money--and they can then choose to sponsor--or not--the program.

My personal belief is that to remain a public library and serve the interests of all members of our community, the acquisition and selection of materials and programs should be left to the professioanls whose job it is to run the library. I believe that private funding can be very beneficial in supplementing the budget to help libraries meet the needs of the patrons they serve. But if a business or industry had "strings" attached and dictated that certain materials could not be purchased because the business or industry found them objectionable and wanted to protect the community from viewing or reading those materials, I would decline the money. That is my personal opinion. Do I find this scary? Yes. Do not call a privatley funded library--which can order and offer any material it wants--a public library. That is misleading and a lie.

It is also why public libraries--whose job is serve the broad interests of all members of their communities--have a collection development policies that reflect this-- and a policies to deal with materials that patrons challenge.

Re:Article

Keep looking, replacing solid manufaturing jobs with local jobs paying under 6 bucks an hour and requiring the workers to use state aid for medical care is not an improvement.But thanks for making the point of my first post, I appreciate it!

Re:Article

So I am assuming that when you buy your toaster ovens and other things none of them say "Made in China". You buy nothing but American products? You may not shop at WalMart but I doubt you buy all American goods so you are as much of the problem as anyone else.

Re:The WalMart Thought Police

Why buy those books from WalMart anyway? From the tone of many of the comments people don't even want WalMart open at all so who cares what books they sell? Go to your local bookstore and purchase the books. If you don't have a local bookstore shop online. If you hate Amazon.com there are other places like Advanced Book Exchange or BookSense that you can shop from. WalMart is not a full bookstore so to go there looking for specific titles I think would leave most people dissapointed most of the time.

Re:The WalMart Thought Police

You miss the entire point. I am a member of my community. Wal-Mart doesn't sell the type of books/music that I (and others like myself)would like to purchase. Yet, Wal-Mart says they sell books that represent the values of the community. How do they determine this? They only represent the fundamentalist/Christian values. They don't take into consideration that those are not the values of the entire community, but use it as an excuse to censor what they sell. They don't manufacture goods in the U.S., but primarily in China where labor is cheap. That undervalues their employees and undermines the U.S. economy. In small towns they put small businesses out of business--so there is no where else to shop. They give money in the form of small grants to agencies and programs so they look good like good stewards in the community. And they are now apparently into the privatization of libraries. It doesn't matter what anyone else says to you. Let's just agree to disagree. One thing you are right about--I don't have to buy my books there--I can take dollars out of my community, and burn more gas to shop elsewhere. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

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