Wal-Mart is not censoring Ronda Rousey

MMA champion Ronda Rousey apparently fancies herself an author enough to have written a book called “My Fight/Your Fight“. And apparently Wal-Mart is deciding they will not carry the book at their stores. Now this decision is quite significant, as that means none of Wal-Mart’s 5,163 locations (as of January 31, 2015) just in the US alone will carry it.

And in response to it, the book’s publisher, Judith Regan, is calling it “censorship”. I wish I was joking.

Let’s make this clear: one retailer deciding to not carry a particular book is NOT censorship. I mean there are a shit-ton of books, literally, that Wal-Mart does not carry on their store shelves. Have you seen the book section at a Wal-Mart Supercenter? It’s tiny! They typically decide on the basis of projected and actual sales which books they’ll carry. And in this age where getting a book is as easy as clicking a button on an e-book store and having it within minutes without the need to go to brick-and-mortar store, that’s something that’s becoming more difficult.

Censorship is when the government says no one can sell copies of the book. Amazon is carrying the book. Barnes & Noble will likely carry it in their stores. Same with Target and other retailers. And the government of the United States cannot, under the First Amendment, ban any book for any reason — contrary to what Senator Feinstein wants to assert with regard to the Anarchist Cookbook. The same applies to the States and territories under the “incorporation doctrine”.

Regan is complaining and accusing Wal-Mart of censorship because Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world. Revenues from the book could be significantly lower than expected. But that’s not censorship. She’s only saying it is censorship as a means of trying to push Wal-Mart to reverse their decision. People don’t like the idea of censorship, but Regan’s assertion is also a symptom of a greater problem.

And that problem is this sense of entitlement.

Recently with Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (IN-RFRA), a lot of people acted like it was a license for discrimination. Indeed when a pizza parlor announced that they will not host gay weddings, they received a lot of harsh feedback, harsh enough that they decided to temporarily close up shop. And we’re all familiar with the stories of bakeries refusing to make cakes for gay weddings, and the various lawsuits that have resulted from those — and recently there was a bakery that refused to put an anti-gay message on a cake, and was also sued.

The idea seems to be that if a service exists, the service must be provided to anyone and cannot be denied for any reason except, perhaps, availability (not every shop can accommodate everyone who comes calling) or the ability of the patron to pay. And that is the case in greater than 99% of instances, something many seem to not realize. It’s only the outliers that draw attention.

And now add to this the sentiment given by Judith Regan: if a retailer exists, they must sell my book, or it’s censorship. Seriously?

Ms Regan, if you happen across this article, let this be the takeaway: you are not entitled to Wal-Mart’s shelf space. You are not entitled to any retailer’s shelf space. You aren’t entitled to a listing on Amazon or any other online retailer. Their decision to provide a space for you to sell the book does not mean you are entitled to anyone’s space for the purpose of selling the book. Stop acting like that is the case.

You are not being censored by Wal-Mart. The fact you are accusing them of censorship, likely in an attempt to goad them into giving you shelf space, is despicable. As such you should publicly retract your statement and also apologize to Wal-Mart for accusing them of censorship.

But I’m not going to hold my breath on you doing that.