"Our customers are thinking people," said Nathan Embretson, a bookseller at Pendragon Books in Oakland. "They're not into reading drivel."
"Anything like that we wouldn't carry," said clerk Emily Stackhouse at Cover to Cover Books in San Francisco. "We're a small store and it would probably gross us all out. Some things you carry because of freedom of speech, but a book like that is just gross."
So, at the doors of some Bay Area stores, a book by a woman who was a vice presidential candidate for a couple of months is just too icky to put on the shelves. I'm sure this is not an isolated incident in liberal "thinking people" enclaves.
Granted, there is probably not much of a market for Palin's book in those insular (read: not diverse) neighborhoods, and I'm all for the free market. Emily Stackhouse — a great name for a bookstore owner — is free to run her business as she pleases. Though it's hard not to think that the fella who owns Geno's Steaks in Philly, who caught hell for his "Order in English Only" sign a while back, might note the irony of our society's selection of freedoms a businessman may exercise.
But it's the moral preening of the Emily Stackhouses of America that grate on me. She makes certain to fly the "freedom of speech" flag in her comments, but doesn't really mean it. She has, in fact, banned Palin's book from her shelves. Again, there's nothing wrong with that. She has the right to sell what she wants. But please, don't ban Palin's book from your shelves and at the same time celebrate your supposed adherence to free speech. Don't brag that you are willing to bravely carry controversial works, but not Palin's work, which would genuinely challenge your customers.
It reminds me of Hollywood producing movies like "Good Night, and Good Luck," or "Redacted" — movies that reinforce the group-think of the industry, challenging no one — and patting itself on the back for its "courage" during the Bush "horror."
Ban Palin's book, if you must. But spare me the sanctimony, please.