Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

May 29, 2006

DCC Harper’s Issue Pulled In Canada

Heather Reisman, president and CEO of Canadian's largest bookseller Indigo Books and Music, Inc., has ordered all copies of the June Harper's Magazine pulled from store shelves. The reason? Reprints of the Danish Cartoons that portray the prophet Muhammed, in an article by Art Spiegelman. This is despite the fact that Spiegelman's article examines, unpacks and puts those cartoons into definite context, diminishing their status as provocative agents to all but those who one imagines need little excuse to be provoked.

One thing that's odd to me is that the cover isn't mentioned in any of the half dozen articles I read. The cover I saw by Spiegelman had a Muhammed depiction right smack in the center of other provocative cartoon depictions of race and ethnicity; this seems to me a lot more provocative and worth noting than an analysis article inside. Since it wasn't mentioned, and I haven't seen the cover yet reprinted anywhere (I don't have permission to reprint my PDF), I have to wonder if this just wasn't reported on by some sort of collective aphasia or if the cover's different.

An internal memo found by reporters indicates that fear of sparking riots was a direct reason given for the move. Major US booksellers have thus far had the magazine in their racks, without incident (or they plan to; I'm not quite certain about anything anymore). It is believed that Reisman's company accounts for about 3000 copies of the magazine on a month-to-month basis in its 260 stores.

In a further vote of confidence for reasoned discourse, the bookseller chose not to return phone calls to journalists on the matter. Articles note it wouldn't be the first time Reisman pulled something she considered objectionable from her shelves. In 2001, Reisman ordered copies of Mein Kampf from her shelves, putting Spiegeman and Harper's in fine company.
posted 8:04 am PST | Permalink

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