Trading in free speech

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!”

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.

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6 thoughts on “Trading in free speech

  1. Terri David

    Linda Barrett-Knopp did not witness the exchange between Carolina Animal Action and the author. Stewart and I politely displayed a banner and handed out leaflets. We were verbally attacked by the author, his entourage, and the Malaprop’s representative. We were the ones treated with disrespect. Ms. Barrett-Knopp should limit her comments to what she actually witnessed. Do you really think her employee would admit to unprofessional behavior? Ms. Barrett-Knopp suggested we meet to discuss the situation, we agreed, but she has since stopped communicating with us. Free speech often is confrontational (we weren’t) so apparently Ms. Barrett-Knopp doesn’t believe that anyone should be able to exercise their free speech rights on the public sidewalk in front of her store.

  2. mtndow

    I read. a lot. Mostly technical stuff. Today I read the color insert in the AC/T. “Fresh T-bone Steaks Bonus Pack $5.99/lb. with your Bonuscard”.
    Thank you

  3. MtnDogs

    Isn’t there more important things going on right now than this kind of grade school drama.

    I feel as though many of the Vegan’s & Veggies (which is primarily my diet) in this town think that their rights & animal rights trump the rights of meat eaters. We all have the same rights & need to learn to co-exist. If you don’t like meat, don’t eat it ! After 10+ years studying on the subject, there is no good evidence that suggests that a veggie diet is right for everyone. In fact, I know more deficient Vegans than anyone.
    My dogs need to eat meat, in the wild they would hunt for animal protein. I am offended that you would rather I starve my best friend than offer her Organic, Humanely raised meat…

    That author was invited by Malaprops to promote his book, to feed his family. Wouldn’t that negative energy that the David’s put out be used better to educate the public at, say, the Laughing Seed, about why they have chosen their lifestyle.
    We are not ever going to get the world to stop eating meat, I would hate to live in a world with only tofu (so bad for you !). Shouldn’t we concentrate on at least supporting our local meat farmers & their families? Who have committed to not using hormones & antibiotics (Where does your soy come from ?)

    Nothing is worse than someone who is so open minded that they are close minded !

    I hear fish oils are good for that.

    Change comes from example, not conflict.
    Be Peace & it shall return trifold.

  4. katie conrad

    The science is overwhelming: vegan diets are the best preventive medicine one can practice. Vegans have much less cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc. See what Doctor Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic has to say about veganism and heart disease, visit Check out the China Study at

    RE: “In fact, I know more deficient Vegans than anyone.” Making nutritional decisions based on a few vegans you may know is the same as stereotyping black people based on the family across the street.

    The David’s were leafletting. They are open-minded, and were trying to open the minds of others. They were not the ones who freaked out at free speech, it was Mr. Thompson and Malaprop’s. If you don’t like their freedom, move to Iraq.

    “Humanely-raised meat” is an oxymoron.

    To learn more about the ethical, environmental, and health reasons to go vegan, visit


    not knowing the specifics of the event, i can’t comment on the behaviors of the two parties, but i do find it very interesting that, according to the earlier mtnx article, mr. david is referring people to barnes and noble. one of the main arguments against the meat industry, and one i fully support, is the inefficiency of land use and the harmful environmental damage caused by coporate farming. large chain stores, like barnes and noble, are terribly wasteful in their use of land, often leaving one location barren to relcoate a mile away, and the runoff from their parking lots, among other things, is one of the largest pollutants of the local environment. that, and the likelihood that b&n;sells considerably more books promoting meat/grilling than a local bookstore, suggest that it’s the davids who need to ‘rethink their inventory,’ remove their hurt personal feelings from the equation, and redirect their time and energy towards a more appropriate means of promoting their important cause.

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