Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Intolerance of the Left

I won't even comment, just read the story:

Conservative kiosk not allowed at mall

By BETH SHAYNE / NewsChannel 36

July 22nd, 2009

CONCORD, N.C. -- “Impeach Obama. “

“Al Qaeda’s favorite days: 9/11/01 and 11/04/08.”

“Work Harder. Obama needs the money.”

The bumper stickers and posters sold at “Free Market Warrior” at Concord Mills are meant to be “biting,” the kiosk’s owner Loren Spivack said.

At least one passer-by found them racist and bigoted, and took time to tell the mall in a letter and a letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer.

Whatever your opinion, the fact is this: At the end of July, “Free Market Warrior” will not be allowed at Concord Mills Mall. The kiosk chain’s owner shared e-mail correspondence with Newschannel 36 that explains that the mall management has decided that the items sold are not “neutral” enough. The lease will be allowed to expire July 31, 2009 without an option to renew.

Spivack, who first leased the space this spring, says the decision came as a shock to him. He says mall management seemed pleased with the kiosk just a few weeks ago.

“Nobody in that mall is selling anything from a conservative perspective. Plenty of people are selling things with a liberal perspective, with a pro-Obama perspective,” he said. “Given that we are in America and not North Korea, we probably should have some stuff on the other side.”

Spivack says he is careful not to sell things that personally attack a politician, and wants a fair exchange of ideas. “The material that I sell is about politics and ideas,” he told Newschannel 36. “It’s all legitimate criticism.”

Concord Mills, owned by Simon Property Group, would not comment for this story, cited a policy against talking about tenant and landlord situations.

Spivack says the company first contacted him about his lease after a letter to the editor appeared in the Charlotte Observer. The author, recent UNCC graduate Jennifer Ibanez, wrote,

““Free Market Warrior,” a kiosk located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops, specializes in memorabilia embellished with pro-confederacy statements as well as those opposing both the government and President Obama. In addition, these products support ideas such as racisms, sexism, and even slavery. While freedom of speech is a Constitutional right it’s difficult not to believe that something just isn’t quite right here.

I find it appalling that Concord Mills, North Carolina’s #1 visitor attraction, would condone such a message to be portrayed by their vendors and can’t imagine how the outside visitors’ perceptions of North Carolinians have been skewed by such an establishment.

It’s hard to stay open-minded when such uncivilized and outdated ideas are endorsed on a daily basis. It’s 2009; please, let’s at least try to put this type of bigotry to an end.”

Ibanez told Newschannel 36 she was so offended, she wrote the mall as well. She says a friend of hers also wrote in. Both threatened not to return to Concord Mills.

The owner of the mall group, Mel Simon, has been a generous contributor to Democratic causes and politicians, including Barack Obama. Spivack thinks the decision about his lease is political.

“If they have decided to make their malls conservative/libertarian free zones, where those opinions can’t be expressed, I do think it’s their right to do that, but it’s our rights to publicize the fact that they are doing that,” he said.

If the issue is about causing offense, he told us, the mall should police other stores. Spivack sent Newschannel 36 pictures of several t-shirts and banners from novelty stores at the mall that were so crude we’ve chosen not to share them.

“What I think the mall should have done if they thought that we were expressing one set of ideas and not another, is that they should have gotten another store to come in and sell their ideas,” he said. “I would’ve been all in favor of that. I would have helped them move in.”

4 comments:

jayhamlet said...

Americans have largely been taught criticism of the country is plain wrong. Dissent is equated with treason. But the darn country was formed when it dissented - in word and deed, from the British. Yet even then, most colonists were willing to endure the indignities of foreign rule. Yet to have nothing critical to say about the joblessness and wars today is dumb.

Chet said...

The mall owner always has the right to not renew your lease. You need to always consider that with how you operate your store. No reason even needs to be given when you time is up and they make the decision. They might not like your hair color or the font you use on your advertising.

Al said...

True, Chet, I do believe the mall owner has the right to choose what stores it leases space to.

That being said, we as consumers also have the right to not shop at that mall.

Anonymous said...

interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter.