Last week, Borders book stores announced they would not carry the current issue of Free Inquiry magazine because the issue would carry four of the Dreaded Cartoons of Blasphemy™ that were printed in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last fall. You remember...they're the ones that touched off the latest round of feverish Muslim seething around the world.
My initial reaction, that is "What cowards!", was the same as many others I read on conservative blogs and elsewhere. But then I thought, "What would I do if it was my decision to make?". And I realized, sadly, that I'd probably make the same decision.
Consider that Borders Group is a publicly-traded company, and as such has a responsibility to its shareholders. More importantly, consider that Borders has a responsibility to not knowingly put its employees and customers in danger. Now, consider that Borders is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a mere 25 miles as the crow files from Dearborn, home of one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States. Borders also owns and operates stores in every major market in the United States, many of which have their own large Muslim populations. When one takes all this into consideration, one begins to see the scope of the problem.
If just one Jihad-minded Muslim (or group of Muslims) decided that Borders must pay for their disrespect, not only would we be faced with the likely deaths of dozens of Borders customers and employees, but Borders could be found financially liable to the tune of billions in a civil suit. To Borders' credit, their statement didn't make mushy-headed claims of sensitivity and multi-culturalism. They came right out and said their decision was based solely on ensuring the safety of their customers and employees.
Last time I was in a Borders store, I didn't see armed special ops troops providing security for the place, and I don't think it's fair to expect a specialty retailer to put their corporate heads on the chopping block (so to speak) in the defense of free speech.
I see Borders' decision as less an indictment of Borders for caving than I do as an indictment of Islam and its followers for their 7th century ideology and behavior.