Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In defense of Wal-Mart's insistence upon "clean" albums

If you don't know Steven Hodson, he is not shy in expressing his opinions. He recently wrote something in the Inquisitr regarding Wal-Mart's refusal to stock Green Day's latest album:

The retail behemoth known worldwide as Wal-Mart is also known for [its] habit of trying to force its own morality upon the manufacturers of things it sells. This is most predominately showcased when it comes to music that is available at the retail chain.

Hodson then notes that Wal-Mart refused to stock Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" because the band and its label refused to supply a "clean" version of the CD.

The title of the post? "Wal-Mart censorship - no Green Day for you."

But is this truly censorship? Although there are a variety of definitions of the term, many of them agree that censorship is imposed by a governmental body. Even in Arkansas, Wal-Mart does not wield governmental power.

Now this can rightly be considered a "refusal to stock" or "refusal to sell" or whatever. And Wal-Mart certainly refuses to sell items. For example:

I've recently bought ammo from Walmart in NC, GA, SC and FL while traveling between NC and FL. I'm a snowbird and my home state is NC. The clerk this time looked at my license, made a phone call, made me wait, then refused to sell me a value pack of. 223. I asked to see a manager. Assistant Manager Luis informed me it is Walmart's policy not to sell ammo to anyone with an out of state license. I asked him if that meant every hunter who goes on a hunting trip out state will not be able to buy at their destination. He said that is correct.

And The Arthritis Store refuses to sell coral calcium:

Since coral calcium is one of he hottest products on the market for the treatment of arthritis you would think that a site that is called the Arthritis Store would sell it. So why don't we sell coral calcium. It is simple we care too much for our customers. We do not sell products just because we can make money from them. We can offer coral calcium for one fifth of what it sells for on the info-mercials. But the simple truth is it is a scam.

Although in that case, government...um...censorship also got involved:

Every American will never forget 9-11. That day changed all of our lives. However, for Bob Barefoot, his day of infamy was 6-10. On June 10, 2003, the Federal Trade Commission, FTC, filed a preliminarily injunction against Bob Barefoot, Kevin Trudeau and others. That action against Bob Barefoot virtually destroyed him economically and did serious damage to his reputation Although the complaint contained only accusations with the accused is supposedly being innocent until the courts rule otherwise, in reality any FTC target is deemed guilty until he can prove himself innocent, a feat that usually requires millions of dollars. The claims made against Barefoot by the FTC were unfounded. Outside of a court of law they would be considered defamatory. However, employees of the FTC are protected by the government despite their guilt. In other words the FTC is allowed to bypass the American system of justice. This of course was never the intent of Congress which gave the FTC these sweeping powers, as it is totally un-American.

The FTC alleged that Barefoot had made "unsubstantiated" medical claims concerning coral calcium in the infomercial in which Kevin Trudeau and I appeared.

Heck, Bob Barefoot makes Steven Hodson sound like a shy type.

Which reminds me...I seem to have strayed from my original topic. Any music store may choose to sell or not sell any CD as it sees fit, for any reason. Wal-Mart doesn't like dirty words (at least in its music). Elitist indie stores don't like Bryan Adams. And HMV doesn't like fascism, as Workers' Liberty notes:

Anti-fascists in Leeds acted to stop the fascist British People's Party (BPP) holding their much publicised demonstration against black music on 18 October. The BPP had called the demo to protest that HMV refuse to stock CDs by fascist groups such as Screwdriver, while selling 'violent' rap music by Ice Cube and others.

Will Billie Joe Armstrong go march in the streets of Leeds and demand that HMV stock albums such as Hail Victory?

Somehow I doubt it.
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