March 31, 2006
To Bloggers from Borders
In which a bookstore CEO tells its critics to pound sand....
An Open Letter from Gregory P Josefowicz CEO/Chairman of the Board/President/Director, Borders Books to Charles Johnson, Director, Pajamas Media, CEO Little Green Foosballs, Rock 'N' Roller in the Free World, Stealth Cyclist.
Dear Mr. Johnson (or may I call you "Charles"?),
The last time I read the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States it seemed pretty clear that the government of these states is ordained and established to "Provide for the common defense," not Borders Books.
Charles, I've got a book store to run and having you sic a bunch of bloggers on me and tell them to ride my ass because we're not shelving a pip-squeak magazine from those tools at the "Council for Secular Humanism" (Jesus wept!) is just not getting it done.
Don't get me wrong. In my 26 minutes of free time every day, I read and love Glenn, and Roger, and Allahpundit and The American Thinker and all the rest of you down to the roots of my remaining hair. I respect their courage and their dedication to principle. And then, finally, Charles, we come to you....
Now I like Little Green Footballs a lot, except for those Kos-o-vite trolls that keep spraying flecks of sputum all over your comments sections. But if you and your other blogomeisters think for one split nano-second that I'm going to stop being the CEO of Borders and take on the marching Muslim morons so that Western Civilization sleeps comfy in its free-speech security blanket, you've got one deflating green football on your hands. And I respectfully suggest you regroup.
Let me lay it out for you.
I run a bookstore. A book store. I run a big bookstore. I've got 34,000 people, real people, working for me every day in lots of places around the US and in other countries too. Those people owe Borders, every day, one good day's work. Borders owes the people who work for it a safe day's work. I've got stockholders too, but let's leave them aside for now, because as much as you may think so, this is not about money. (And yes I caught that business about the fact that we're trying to open stores in Arab and Muslim countries, but as you may have noticed every country these days contains an Arab and Muslim country.)
My bookstore is in a lot of places and it has, in employment and other matters, an open door policy. It advertises its address. It's not hard to find. You can Mapquest it. If you are lucky you can park your fully-loaded van or truck right next to it and set the timer. During business hours, all our employees are "home." Call me paranoid, but you don't get to be the CEO of a big corporation and not think about these things.
Like the United States itself, we're into "Open Borders." Like the United States, Borders lets anybody in. But we're not running some sort of NSA airport check-in deal at the door. You open our door and you walk in and somebody says "Welcome to Borders." You can come as you are and wear whatever you choose under that long and suspiciously large coat. We've no dress code when it comes to our customers. You can be locked and loaded in more ways than one because, hey, its a free country with a strong Second Amendment as well as a First.
Yes, we have security, but you may have noticed that they are not wearing body armor, carrying automatic weapons and patrolling the cookbook section in an up-armored Humvee. It's just not the Borders Way, bloggers. If you ever stopped filling up your cart with clicks at Amazon.com and visited a store, that's what you'd find.
Don't get me wrong. At Borders we make a "business" out of Free Speech and Free Expression. It's a core value. Three other not-so-obvious and possibly competing core values at Borders are 1) Make a profit, 2) No riots in the store, ever, especially not in the Children's section, and 3) All employees and patrons get to home at the end of the day without a side trip to a hospital.
Now you and the other bloggers who are sitting around safe in your undisclosed locations may feel that I have a duty to carry the 46 copies of Free Inquiry magazine I'm going to sell chain-wide in the next month. You know, the one with those drawings of the Prophet (Peace be upon his raggedy ass.). You might feel I should do this in the name of being the last, best bastion of Free Speech in America. I feel your pain, but after due consideration I must respectfully instruct you all to just pound sand.
Who do you think we are up here in Ann Arbor, the 82nd Airborne?
Let's review. Embassies and other buildings set on fire. People injured and killed for months across the globe. Islamics freaking out everywhere. (Very excitable and childish culture and religion that.) All because some newspaper way up in the corner of Denmark pumps out a few drawings.
And no major US newspapers prints them. No major US media shows them. No real action from the US government other than tongue clucking. And everywhere around the world there has been no significant moment when these whack job Muslims are getting their asses roundly and dependably kicked for rioting.
Nope, there is no place outside of Afghanistan and Iraq where violent Muslims are getting their asses kicked by government or the press.
You want this shit to stop and people able to draw and publish what they want anywhere in the world at any time without being afraid of getting a bread knife in gut from some hyperventilating Islamic idiotarian with a religiously implanted mental disorder? Start getting governments that can grow a pair at home as well as overseas, and start kicking some Muslim ass whenever and wherever this crap gets started. Don't come bitching to me that Borders has to step up and take the hit.
Is it really the case that your guys expect me, after months of watching this global governmental cowardice in the face of Islamic intimidation go down, to pin a big "Kick Me" sign on the backs of every one of my employees? Dudes, I worked in the grocery business for most of my career and if I am the last line of defense here, log off and head for the mountain redoubt with a box lunch because the terrorists have won.
I can't believe that your guys expect me to step up and make my company the front line of defense against the Muslim hordes which, as far as I can see, get a free pass to do whatever they want whenever they show up in groups of like two?
I read the New York Times and the Washington Post and I didn't see these cartoons in those papers. Maybe I missed them. Were they in the Sports section under "Global Riot League Scores Today?" Maybe they were. I can't keep track of who's a coward and who's a hero in this whole thing outside of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. All in all, I'm not really getting that safe and secure feeling out of the State Department or the White House these days, you know what I mean?
Like I said, I run a bookstore not an army. You bloggers want the Muslim idiots brought under control so that Free Speech takes place everywhere and not just in the magazine section at Borders? Tell it to the Marines.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to head down to the main floor, fire that quisling who's writing tell-all email, rearrange some Korans, and check out our new window display of Glenn Reynolds' "An Army of Davids." Good book that, its just blowing out of the stores. I don't care if he did call me a coward. A man's gotta know his limitations.
PS: I'm not too good at this linking thing, but here's a couple of things that, well, just fluff my dandruff,
lgf: Borders and Waldenbooks Cave In to Islamist Intimidation What can I say. I plead "Guilty. With an explanation."
Bidinotto's not buying anymore. Door. Ass. Bang.
Roger L. Simon: Calling PEN "Thank you for calling. Your message is very important to us. Press one to report homophobic or racist censorship anywhere including thought crimes. Press two to report publishers who offer less than two million dollars for the story of your "kidnapping" by Iraqi extremists and your two month vacation in the Rachael Corrie Health Spa, Baghdad. If you are calling to report the suppression of free speech in the name of Allah, it is to laugh. Just hang up."
Instapundit "Advancing toward fascism, one cowardly institution at a time." Like I said, Glenn, do we look like The 82nd Airborne to you? Drop by the office if you tour through here. I'll stand you to a vanilla latte if you inscribe my copy of your book. I like to think we're a little bit like another Army of Davids here at Borders, too.
Council for Secular Humanism Why? Because "Humanism" wasn't Secular enough to begin with.
Posted by Vanderleun at March 31, 2006 9:39 AM
UPDATE: For a good time head over to Little Green Footballs: An Open Letter from ... uh ... and read the comment thread discussing this letter as the penny drops and, well, does not drop.
Save to del.icio.us
He makes some very good points, but directs his wrath at the U S Government versus at all the other "surrender monkies" in that LIBERAL "WE ARE FOR ALL FORMS OF FREE SPEECH (including Kiddy Porn, whatever NAMBLA wishes to spew, and any anti-American dribble at our Universities and on and on) EXCEPT ANYTHING THAT MIGHT GET PEOPLE THAT REALLY MIGHT HURT US UPSET, SO WE SHOW OR WRITE WHAT THEY DO NOT WANT SAID OR SHOWN."
If these were the Christians of the Roman times, there would have been a lot of hungry lions.
He should have put out a call that every publication across America should publish the cartoons simultaneously!
See caption at NRO MEDIA BLOG on Scalia's photo:
"That's Sicilian for 'second-rate newspaper'"
Feeling a bit testy, are we?
Good points, indeed. Except that they point to merchandising by fear, a road I trust we won't have to go down with all merchants like we already did with now-boycotted Grey old publishing Whores, if you catch my drift. The Propaganda of Record.
As if I needed another reason, Borders, you just lost my business. If not for the gratuitous snark, consider it for the simple cowardice.
No way that's for real! If those are the actual comments of the actual CEO of Borders Books, I'll eat a buffet of hats.
Of course, if it is for real it represents an extraordinary departure from mainstream CEO-speak and CEO-think. There's enough "crazy talk" in that letter to make PR pros apoplectic.
I can't believe the CEO of Borders would curse throughout his open letter as well as say "...Prophet (Peace be unto his raggedy ass)..." while stating, reasonably I think, that he can't stick his workers necks out for a principle no real newspapers of record across the US didn't defend either. Calling the prophet a raggedy ass, while cowering. Seems strange. He makes a fair point, but again, is it him?
Which brings the question:
"Was the ability to read and interpret satire surgically removed, or are we dealing with a congenital situation??"
Is it real or only memor..nah too easy...I am sighing with you!
Again and again Sir you make me aware of my terrible inadequacies as a writer and I hate you for it!
On the other hand...BRAVO!
The First Terrorist War was my introduction to your brilliance and my first lesson in humility.
My pitiful efforts pale in comparison but don't stop because of my gentle ego....hehe.
Very Humble Editor of The Pink Flamingo Bar
I don't know if the Borders CEO is for real, but I sure agree with everything he writes. Why indeed, should Borders be the only company in the EU and the US to publicly oppose what all the cowards in the EU and the US (as well as the White House) were too afraid to publicly oppose?
Dear Borders executive,
It comes to my attention that you carry copies of the immoral magazine "Playboy."
If you continue to display this magazine, we will blow up your stores.
We expect an immediate withdrawl of this vile publication.
Random Angry Group
Dear Borders Executive,
It has come to our attention that your in-store coffee shops prepare drinks using dairy products stolen from exploited cows.
We demand that you replace all these cruel items with earth-friendly soy products or we will begin hurling cans of red paint at your employees. And also blowing up your stores.
That was one funny response and it's fully in line with Borders Group spokeswoman, Beth Bingham's initial statement:
“For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority,”
So, security/safety is the bottom line . . .and Gregory (can I call him that?)states
"At Borders we make a "business" out of Free Speech and Free Expression."
- may I suggest there is a possible compromise?
Since Borders is teamed with Amazon.com, why not sell the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine (without the required annual subscription) online ?
No bricks and mortar store is involved and this compromise would enable loyal Borders/WB customers to purchase the the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine (just as Amazon sells books by Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Steven Emerson, Kenneth Timmerman, Bat Ye'or, Andrew Bostom, Ibn Warraq etc.) without need for unnecessary pre-emptive security announcements.
As I call my favorite grandson when he pulls one over on me: "You wonderful Brat!"
As usual, with all your outstanding pieces, I sent it far and wide. What gave it cred to me was the reference that he had formerly been in the grocery biz. Years ago, I dealt with top executives of two then major grocery chains, so I wasn't surprised by the language. They were a very direct group unlike execs at our steel company headquarters. Just a different breed.
Not an excuse, but a celebration of your talent.
You must read the comments at LGF. Not the only one you snookered. But as an LGFer asked:
"Is it April 1st in Michigan(sic)?" Most think it is Iowahawk.
Laughing harder now rereading than I did the first time.
I don't believe this for a second.April fools, is my guess. But i'll roll with it.
It's not the responsibility of borders to protect you from mooselimbs and sharia.
Until whacko fundie christians start blowing up abortion clinics on a more regular basis, Borders won't listen to them or their beef.
He admits, it. Islam nutcases are not like your everyday run of the mill nutcase. The regular flavored nutcase is a 1-in-a-million crackpot who goes off in a blaze of glory.
*** That flavor is vanilla among Islamists ***
You're god damn right he's fearful. Maybe not about his own personal safety -- he can afford to live under 24/7 armed guard of ninjas. But he don't want his employees cut up by the Islamist freaks. Employees who might not be able to hire them, or who don't even know about this whole brouhaha in the first place. His PS says it all: Yeah, i caved in to Islamists.
And fuck yes, i would cave in too if i had to make such a choice when so many lunatics are already in the US. So waste your energy on the Government instead of private institutions.
I understand what you're saying..you have a responsibility and it's not practical.
It's not practical for a bookstore to uphold freedom of speech because of civil intimidation
It's not practical for a business with employees to resist civil blackmail
It's not practical in an open society for a business to make a principled stand on the founding values of that society in case there might be REAL risks
It's not practical.
In our free society our freedoms are impractical.
Is that what I heard?
He has just let all groups that wish to silence and control content the way to achieve that goal. Violence! Go Christians you have the play now run with it. Borders, free expression, don't make me laugh.
From what I've read of your stores policies I disagree very much with your company. But may I compliment you on the panache with which you defend yourself and your company?
You are right if course that the very first line of resistance should be our functionaries. Lacking that, I don't think I agree with you we entrepeneurs should lie down and take things as they come. But your criticism is (sadly) very much to the point.
And kudos to you for coming out as forthright as you did. Wish I encountered more like you on a daily basis.
I'm putting in for the Jonathan Swift Award, 2006, pronto.
ROTFL....Thanks, Van der Leun. The comments section was almost as funny as the, er, letter. Fabulous, just fabulous.
Jonathan Swift Award sounds just right - you
Don't know why my 2:40PM comment appeared unsigned.
Admit I was duped - but still sending out and laughing harder!
Bless you for a "fun" Friday, even tho that isn't our primary goal in life.
Clearly, bookstores should selectively filter out publications which they feel may offend muslims. In fact, every book and magazine in every bookstore which contains content that may offend muslims, should be piled in the streets, and burned.
Everyone knows there are two standards: that for muslims, and that for everyone else.
Now be a good dhimmi and praise allah.
You really have no idea what this page has been about for 3 years and over 6000 items, do you?
"As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today. I wish, I wish he'd go away."
You have to be the best ghostwriter on the planet for every man who wasn't there. The Borders CE-Oh! may be the first of them, but please, Gerard, don't let him be the last.
That's it, then. It appears the condition was settled at birth.
It takes a lot to amaze me too, G. - I'm gobsmacked. Where do these folks come from??
Thanks - brilliant stuff.
I respectfully disagree with some of your points, but I'll be damned if this isn't one of the funniest open letters I've read in a long time.
One of the richest, freshest, most satistying pieces of prose all year!
Too, too good!
Better than scratchy toilet paper.
This one I gotta blog about. This shows why you're in the spotlight and all I can ever expect is to be a good empressario.
Oh, if I'm so much in the spotlight why can't I get on Instapundit's blogroll? Was it something I said?
I really hope you lose a lot of business so you won't have to worry about running a bookstore, a very large bookstore, too much longer. I bet you're glad you weren't around during the American Revolution, aren't you? All those messy battles fighting for freedom...ick.
[Note: The management would like to apologize to those readers bleassed with a brain for the tone and conceptual flaws of this comment.]
Puppies + blender = Insta-guy persona.
A proven winner. Endless variations available.
Gotta be worth a try... just not this week - he's got other fish to fry w/ family matters, you know.
(just read MichiganGirl)
Jeebus, they just keep coming, don't they?? Amazing.
Well here's hoping the Borders people get a kick out of this, too...oops was that too violent? AH HAHAHAHA
Best all-around laughs I've had in weeks. Mr. Van der Leun, you are a master.
Got a post at JustOneMinute:
"Good Job By Borders CEO"
The Borders Books CEO delivers a fine country a**-kicking to right-wing bloggers exhorting him to carry some obscure mag running the Mohammed cartoons. But he manages to tell the folks on the right to "pound sand" in a friendly and upbeat way!
Go check it and the comments at:
Click here: JustOneMinute: Good Job By Borders CEO
Fooled a lot of them too!
I find it unbelievable that anyone thought it was anything but a very thoughtful and multi-level satire. The language was so obviously not even remotely "corporate."
In the little corner of my pc is a box with the current time. When I hold the pointer over it, the date appears. In three minutes I notice the date will be April 1st.
Were ceo's and pols as honest as the poster of this hoax, even twittering hummingbirds would soar as if they were eagles.
JustOneMinute: Good Job By Borders CEO
UPDATE: The AP picks it up.
Posted by Tom Maguire on March 31, 2006
LINKED ABOVE AT:
Posted by LARWYN at March 31, 2006 09:25 PM
[Editor's Note: The management of American Digest would like to apologize in advance for the following response. It was placed on the page in the dead of night by somebody in the final moments of CAPS!!! LOCK!!! FEVER!!!. We considered removing it, but we have left it in the belief that it demonstrates one of the first signs of the fatal CAPS!!! LOCK!!! FEVER!!! -- the withering of the humor gland. ]
GET TO THE POINT PEOPLE!!
Gregory P Josefowicz CEO/Chairman of the Board/President/Director, Borders Books blew it NOT ONCE but TWICE.
1) THESE ARE NOT CARTOONS! These are opinions expressed by twelve people in the free world that are no different than what you see on any newspapers editorial page. These caricatures of a belief system have within those drawings have if you look past the "cartoon" aspect true and deep meanings felt by those that drew them as to how they percieve a religion. AND THE VERY THING THAT THESE PEOPLE SEE AND EXPRESSED IS WHAT THIS CEO IS COWERING FROM AND AFRAID TO EXPOSE.
2) STOP TELLING US TO SEND IN THE MARINES, OUR 18, 19, 20 YEAR OLDS, ASKING THEM TO DIE FOR OUR FREEDOMS AND THEN TELL THE WORLD YOU WILL NOT EXERCISE THE FREEDOMS THEY DIED FOR IN THE PAST 36 MONTHS! Thousands of our young men and women volunteered and have died and this joker now says what they died for, freedom of expression, is not important? AND ALL THEY HAD WAS THE SECOND BEST WEAPON WE COULD GIVE THEM. THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD IN DRIVING THESE RADICALS UNDER A ROCK IN THE DESERT BUT THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE POWER OF THE PEN, THE MEDIA, THE WRITERS, REFUSE TO UNLEASH THE POWER OF THE PEN, YET FINALLY 12 PEOPLE DID SO THROUGH THESE CARACATURES OF DARK AND EVIL FORCES AND THE COWARDS REFUSE TO EXERCISE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. HAVE ASKED OUR KIDS TO DIE AND NEVER SEE THE AGE OF 22 YET THIS CEO IS MUCH OLDER THAN THESE KIDS AND STILL REFUSES TO PUT ON DISPLAY THE POWER OF THE PEN!!!!!!!!!
We ask our friends from 26 other nations to also put thier young people in harms way but the people that are dieing at such a young age from around the world are being told by this idiot CEO that he will not let their people at Borders in these other countries exercise the freedoms thier kids died for, the right to express thier opinions through caricatures.
FIRE THE BASTARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I believe I told you about the effect of 'Truth in Labeling Laws' and it's effect on irony and satire. You're gonna hafta put up warning signs.
Excellent satire, and great fun to boot. On a serious note, thank you for pointing out something I really hadn't thought about, mainly that it's not the job of businessmen to fight our wars for us. Businesses are for making money, which provides a living for somebody, and hopefully many somebodies. Whatever I think of the policies of businesses, if they feel that their employees lives are in danger, then they should take the steps necessary to ameliorate that danger.
As much as I wish that this country's institutions and organizations would stand up for our values, this is not a game. Real lives are at stake, and in this instance, it's not worth it, nor is it my call. Kudos for thinking deeper and presenting those thoughts in such a satisfying and educational form.
And hey, being compared to Iowahawk isn't so bad as far as humor, eh?
I weep. Is it really this bad? Simple 10th grade satire they don't get?
(I originally wrote much more scathing remarks, just because I'm feeling tetchy today, but then I realized I was assuming intelligent life on the internet, and I know better than that.)
BTW, your sidebars on the Ye Olde Farts of Steel and Penis-Wagging Baby-Killers contradict one another. I'm entertained by the thought of getting them together. Oops. That was the 60's.
What can I say, Rita? Kids today.
Looks like it took a while for the penny to drop, er, not drop, here too.
Powell's in Portland, Oregon, the largest bookstore on the westcoast, found the courage to carry the magazine.
Goddamn, that was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. An absolute perfect mix of the true, the half-true, the false, the blatantly false, the realistic and the absurd. Great work, sir.
Gerard, I think you've gotta be just about the funniest man alive! LOLOLOL
I sighed with you, Gerard, but I was still giggling so it sounded like a snork. Great job!
A great piece. I think you make some good points "on behalf" of Borders. Truth is, it made me think a bit, which is a good thing. It's truly a pity that the governments in "the West" have let things go to such an extent that I can sympathize with the "CEO"s point of view. For all I know, that really *is* what he thinks.
Magnificent - It wasn't until I got to the Allahpundit slip that I figured it out.
Excellent work, and yes, you should put in for the Swift Award. Or the "Orson Welles War of the Worlds Award"...
To Borders Books and to all Americans who have not taken a stand against their terrorist empowering policies:
Regarding Borders and Waldenbooks stores’ decision to not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains reprints of cartoons that have angered the terrorists. According to Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham. "For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority."
I will not do business with those who trade freedom for security.
In 490 BC 11,000 Greeks fought back 200,000 Persian soldiers. They did not lose to the volume of their enemy. They stood up against an overwhelming oppressive force that would steal their freedoms. They won by the greater volume of their cause not by the volume of their army. Had they lost, an infant democracy, a great example of mans natural freedom, would have perished from the western world. Again and again, Spartans, Rhodians, Romans and our Minute Men, man by man, stood against the loud collective forces that hoped to darken liberty with fear.
On September 11, 2001, I sat with my children in our living room and watched a new threat to liberty scream out. My daughter asked why the bad guys chose this instead of a war with soldiers. I told her they hoped to make us afraid not to listen to what they say, afraid to live our lives the way we want, and they hoped to frighten us into making the choices they want us to make. She said that we should call the news and tell the people not to be afraid; because if the people became afraid then the bad guys would win.
Why did my five year old understand more about liberty and freedom than your corporate officers?
Liberty still stands with her torch, a lamp by which to read the ideas of mankind. She does not judge the ideas her light shall expose. She illuminates our right to our own judgment of our fellow man’s ideas.
Not even the ashes of the twin towers darkened her lamp.
But you have.
Do not say that you are protecting me. Do not say that you have my children’s welfare in mind as you cower in the shadows and hide from liberty.
Like Rome, someday this great land may fall. But I say let her go fighting like the Spartans. Let her comb her hair in the face of her enemy. Please, do not lead her like a lamb to slaughter.
In the words of Ronald Reagan,
“There is only an up or down – up to man’s age old dream – the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order – or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course. “
I will not do business with those who trade freedom for security.
If I cannot purchase the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine in your store then I will never do business with you again. I will not trade with traitors of the American dream.
One mind free to think and choose for myself.
You don't get a lot of "Jesus wept" these days, nor do you get much effective satire: it's hard to write, and harder to resist (well, the reaally good stuff is, anyway).
I like Border's just fine, but if this was real, I would re-double my shopping there in order to keep such a guy as a CEO. Caving in to fanatics aside, it would be a real breath of fresh air to see a company lead by someone with this kind of tongue in his head and a MarComm staff who let him use it.