When my spouse, Terri, and I learned that Malaprop’s was hosting the author of a book on barbecue, we decided to offer a different point of view [“All Up in Your Grill,” Aug. 8]. I politely handed out leaflets while Terri held a banner showing a pig with the caption: “Please, Think Before You Eat, Go Vegetarian! www.GoVeg.com.”
I was surprised at the hostile reaction of the author and his entourage. I tried to engage them in civil discourse, but they were belligerent and resorted to name-calling and tearing up our literature. But the real shock came from Malaprop’s management. I truly thought that the good folks at this “progressive” bookstore would embrace the exercise of free speech outside of their store. Wow, was I wrong! An agitated Malaprop’s representative stormed outside, berated us and told us we had to move because they owned the sidewalk. He was impossible to reason with, so I suggested he call the police. As noted by the responding officer, we were within our rights.
Malaprop’s management has since banned us from the store and made additional, absurd allegations. But they are, indeed, correct in stating that the author and their staff were uncomfortable with our behavior. If two citizens in their late 50s politely leafleting made them uncomfortable, they should perhaps rethink their inventory. It’s hypocritical of them to profit from the sale of books about, or written by, individuals who have exercised their First Amendment right to speak out against the dominant paradigm.
Sentient beings should not be subjected to discrimination, suffering or death simply because of their race, sex, class, sexual orientation, age or species. I’m proud to speak out against the senseless violence that permeates our society. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Stewart David
Malaprop’s General Manager Linda Barrett-Knopp replies: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe has a 25-year tradition of defending free speech and providing a community center where ideas can be discussed and debated in a safe and respectful manner. We believe that communication, not confrontation, serves our community best. We have acted in that spirit towards members of Carolina Animal Action. As a general policy, Malaprop’s will ask anyone to leave if they treat our authors or our staff with disrespect. We believe in peaceful coexistence, and strive to maintain a respectful environment at our store.