Pharyngula

Wal-Mart has a policy in place to protect its customers from the obscenity and wickedness that writers put into books, yet they still have a few books on the shelves that are terribly indecent—one must assume that their censors are simply too busy to have read them to determine the unpleasantness of their content. In order to help them become more consistent, I urge everyone to sign the petition asking that one of these unsavory texts be removed immediately.

(via Aaron Kinney)

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    August 31, 2006

    Saw it. Signed it. Thanks.

  2. #2 Jason
    August 31, 2006

    HHHHHHHHHHHH

  3. #3 George Cauldron
    August 31, 2006

    Isn’t Jinxy supposed to be disemvowelled on sight now?

  4. #4 Mena
    August 31, 2006

    I couldn’t find a Barenaked Ladies CD there a few years ago (when they were still popular on the US charts), coincidence?
    Speaking of clueless, hi Jason!

  5. #5 misterbowen
    August 31, 2006

    Perhaps his original post had some ‘A’s in it?

  6. #6 Steve_C
    August 31, 2006

    or Os. Though it’s kinda early for the Santa suit.

    Happy Holidays! The war on Christmas has started early this year.

    Who wants to join my elite special ops commando squad?

  7. #7 joe doe
    August 31, 2006

    This is really stupid. Can you please do something better with your time? Remember that just because you got tenure does not mean that you stop doing your research–get back to biology.

  8. #8 Warren
    August 31, 2006

    Wal-Mart won’t block the Bible — after all, as the petition points out, the Bible supports the idea of slave labor.

  9. #9 George Cauldron
    August 31, 2006

    Another ‘concern troll’?

    Who’d’ve thought these wingnuts were so considerate?

  10. #10 Steve_C
    August 31, 2006

    Get back to your home under the bridge troll.

    Go blather at http://www.freerepublic.com

  11. #11 Kagehi
    August 31, 2006

    lol Signed it.

    Just wish you could do something about sane standards at other places. Just started working at the Safeway supermarket and got a good laugh at their “visual sexual harassment” policy. It basically goes like this:

    1. We work in a resort town.
    2. Half the town on weekends are in bikinis.
    3. When the cops are not around, a certain percentage of the people on the lake, a mere 2-3 blocks away, might be topless.
    4. If you try to display a poster advertising anything that includes someone wearing a bikini, this *might* be offensive, so it is “visual sexual harrassment”!

    Way to opt for the least common ethical standards, so as to minimize the odds of some prude suing you! Note, I consider ethical to be “apposing” the slow collapse of society into one where you can’t even talk to your own neighbor about your political or religious views, never mind make a passing comment at work, for fear of the inevitable scream of, “He insulted my shacky and uncertain belief in my religion.”, and where the most prudish, socially irrational and insanely obsessive crank gets top billing in decisions about what is “appropriate”. Catering to such insanities is a cop out, not a sign of ethics, but if you want to keep your job, you agree to stick paper bags over the magazines with “offensive” nursing babies… Actually, I don’t know if they did that when the whole nonsense was going on, but it wouldn’t bloody surprise me…

  12. #12 Bronze Dog
    August 31, 2006

    If PZ can spare some time from biology to crusade for the good of mankind, I say let him!

  13. #13 Marella
    August 31, 2006

    This is really stupid. Can you please do something better with your time?
    Likewise.

  14. #14 Vitis
    August 31, 2006

    Can we plant some shrubbery around the Troll cages so they are harder to feed?

  15. #15 Aero
    August 31, 2006

    I signed it. I think it’s great. Too bad the left out complaints about all the perverted sex and family destruction. http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/sex/long.htm

  16. #16 raindogzilla
    August 31, 2006

    Do you think we could get them to include the “Left Behind” books in their petition- or just Tim LaHaye in general?

  17. #17 Alex
    August 31, 2006

    Wait a minute…..
    The bible isn’t meant to be read as fiction?

  18. #18 Stogoe
    August 31, 2006

    I’m really glad that “concern troll” as a term has started to gain traction.

  19. #19 Aerik Knapp-Loomis, I
    August 31, 2006

    I already signed it hours before you creatd this post. In fact, that’s the way alot of your posts happen to me – after the fact. With only a part time job and plenty of time to scour the ‘net, sometimes I wonder if I should just get payed to find links for bloggers.

  20. #20 George
    August 31, 2006

    That was satisfying. Can we also do one for the American Hotel & Lodging Association?

  21. #21 Aaron KinneyAaron Kinney
    August 31, 2006

    Sweet! Thank you PZ! 🙂

  22. #22 Jeff
    August 31, 2006

    What gets me about Wal-Mart’s policies is how they refuse to sell all manner of books/CDs for moral reasons, but then have no qualms selling something like Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.

  23. #23 Odd Jack
    August 31, 2006

    What I find odd is they do make a great deal of fighting off indecency, and selling censored music. But when I see the movies on the DVD shelves, passed the Christian bits, you gory horror and a number sleazy B-Movie. So I have doubts how passionate they are about protecting their sheep…customers. Refuse some books, people don’t read anyway (especially in their view of their customer base. Censor music, please the uptight parental masses. Everything else…eh.

  24. #24 j
    August 31, 2006

    Hilarious. I never shop at Wal-Mart anyway.

    What is a concern troll anyway?

  25. #25 Daniel Martin
    August 31, 2006

    Can we plant some shrubbery around the Troll cages so they are harder to feed?

    Look, I went and supplied a tool to automatically ignore certain commenters; it’s not my fault if readers don’t use it…

  26. #26 j
    August 31, 2006

    That was awkward, using “anyway” twice within two sentences. Pretend one of them isn’t there.

  27. #27 Bammed by Kansas Citizens for Science
    August 31, 2006

    Excellent quote mining of the Jewish scripture, not to mention the slurs on the Jewish people.

    Can you spell BIGOT?

  28. #28 Marie
    August 31, 2006

    Walmart refuses to sell some books for moral reasons???

    Have they looked at the hundreds of romance novels on their shelves??? My goodness, they almost self-ignite from all the friction induced heat trapped between the covers.

  29. #29 Ichthyic
    August 31, 2006

    Have they looked at the hundreds of romance novels on their shelves??? My goodness, they almost self-ignite from all the friction induced heat trapped between the covers.

    oh, I do think you must provide direct evidence to support your contention.

    Please provide direct quotes from specified texts, if you would be so kind…

  30. #30 George Cauldron
    August 31, 2006

    Can you spell BIGOT?

    Let me guess — you had to look it up just now.

  31. #31 Carlie
    August 31, 2006

    “Can you spell BIGOT?”

    Yes, but apparently you can’t spell “banned”. Unless, that is, Kansas Citizens for Science kicked it up a notch with you, in which case you would indeed have been “bammed”.

  32. #32 Caledonian
    August 31, 2006

    Excellent quote mining of the Jewish scripture, not to mention the slurs on the Jewish people.

    Leaving aside the ethnic concepts of Jewishness for a moment, anyone who is religiously a Jew has as holy scripture a text that glorifies rape, murder, and genocide.

    What slur could we speak or write that’s more offensive than that?

  33. #33 Sean
    August 31, 2006

    Excellent quote mining of the Jewish scripture

    The fundie/creationist/IDiot cabal have been beaten soundly about the head and shoulders with accusations of quote mining for many years now. They have finally figured out that the term has some form of negative connotation, but have yet to understand what it actually means.

    Quoting idiocy is not quote mining. Quoting hypocrisy is not quote mining. Quoting blatant irrationality is not quote mining. Quoting out of context snippets in order to twist original meaning is

  34. #34 Dan
    August 31, 2006

    Excellent quote mining of the Jewish scripture, not to mention the slurs on the Jewish people.

    Hm. I’ll bet you don’t think it’s quote mining when you do it.

    Face it, wingnuts, the Bible is the ultimate quote mine. The best part about it is that none of it means a damn thing, so you can make it mean whatever you want, if you try hard enough. It’s quite different from Darwin, in that regard, despite the incessant attempts to treat it the same.

    This is where the Muslims were smart. Muslims are expressly forbidden from quoting the Qur’an out of context. If you’re going to read it out loud, you have to read an entire section, usually an entire surah.

    Hell, it’s even forbidden to translate it out of the 7th century Classical Arabic.

  35. #35 George Cauldron
    August 31, 2006

    Excellent quote mining of the Jewish scripture, not to mention the slurs on the Jewish people.

    ‘The Jewish scripture’? What, you fundies are going New Testament only now, is that what you’re saying?

    Quote mining? A hint: if fundies are going to claim the literal truth of EVERYTHING in the Bible, you can’t bitch and moan when people dredge up the embarrassing bits you’d rather forget.

    Or is there some ‘context’ to the following that would totally change its meaning?:

    “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.”

    BTW, what IS ‘bammed’ supposed to mean?

  36. #36 Pete
    August 31, 2006

    Uh, have you guys forgotten the part about not replying to trolls?
    (I signed the petition, this will probably all be forgotten in 2 days, whatever.)

  37. #37 Kent
    August 31, 2006

    Speaking of obscene fiction, Wal-Mart also sells Ann Coulter’s “books.”

  38. #38 calladus
    August 31, 2006

    It’s pretty funny, and it makes a very good point.
    I’ve spoken of this before:

    … the Bible is so full of smut that I’m still surprised that bookstores haven’t put it in a plain brown wrapper on the top shelf of the bookstore. I’m amazed that a store will happily sell a Bible to a 5 year old , and the very next customer is required to present proof of age to purchase the Penthouse Forum.

    Weren’t the old Comstock Laws once applied to the Bible to prevent it from being mailed across state lines?

  39. #39 bernarda
    September 1, 2006

    Wal-Mart and Borders banned the April/May issue of Free Inquiry Magazine supposedly because it contained the Mohammed cartoons. But the cover stories of the magazine were about evolution. From there to speculate that there were other reason…

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/fi/

  40. #40 kai
    September 1, 2006

    Very funny, but seriously I would prefer a campaign for Wal-Mart to not censor at all. We should be keeping on the high moral ground and to start a “if our books are banned we want your books to be banned as well” squabble doesn’t further free thinking and free speech a bit.

  41. #41 Kansas Citizen for REAL Science
    September 1, 2006

    But books are already banned.

    Who ya kiddin?

    Just try even discussing creationist or ID literature in a Johnson County Kansas school, even for purposes of example, and see what happens to you.

  42. #42 calladus
    September 1, 2006

    Just try even discussing creationist or ID literature in a Johnson County Kansas school, even for purposes of example, and see what happens to you.

    I imagine it would be similar to trying to discuss a Holocaust Denial book in a WWII History class, or a Flat Earth book in a Physics claSS.

    The teacher (if fair) would admit there are kooks out there, and tell you to close the book and pay attention to the subject.

    I don’t see that as banning though. You’re still allowed to purchase and own such trash.

  43. #43 George Cauldron
    September 1, 2006

    Just try even discussing creationist or ID literature in a Johnson County Kansas school, even for purposes of example, and see what happens to you.

    Have you been bammed?

  44. #44 Junk Jungle
    September 1, 2006

    Signed!

    Bammed, apparently you haven’t been keeping up with this blog for the past months. PZ is constantly throwing up interesting bits of stuff he’s researching and translating it to Layman-ese. Keep your eyes peeled for more.

  45. #45 Mark Hubbell
    September 1, 2006

    What is it about the Bible that has you so spooked? This is an obvious ruse (do you think people really came to the conclusion to sign after doing their own research?).

    And what if the Bible’s message is true? Where does that leave you?

  46. #46 Mark Hubbell
    September 1, 2006

    One other point. Paul didn’t write the letter to the Hebrews.

  47. #47 Carlie
    September 2, 2006

    Spooked? Not at all. Using a quote from Penn Jillette, the best way to create new atheists is to get people to read the Bible – we should be promoting it as much as possible.

    The point is to ask Wal-Mart (somewhat facetiously) to apply the same standards to everything they sell. If they want to ban porn and violence, the Bible has to be out.

  48. #48 Mark Hubbell
    September 2, 2006

    Okay Carlie,

    You say that reading the Bible is akin to viewing porn and violence. Let me ask you if you, an apparent athiest, believe in truth and history.

    In other words, is there such a thing as truth, and can we know it? Similarly, is there such a thing as history, and can it be studied?

    If so, can violent history, or history that has included infidelity or immorality be something we study and learn from?

  49. #49 Carlie
    September 2, 2006

    Absolutely, violent history can be learned from. In fact, it has to be – whitewashed history is incredibly dangerous. I never said that people shouldn’t learn from history, quite the contrary. You’re viewing the post and the linked letter as an attack directly on the Bible, rather than what it was said to be, and what I then brought it back to: if Wal-Mart has a policy against selling any books with violence and sex, they have to include the Bible in that. It’s quite simple.

    What does being an atheist have to do with believing there is such a thing as history? Atheists don’t believe in nothing (that’s nihilism) – they simply believe in one less god than you do. (to steal from Dawkins)

    In fact, I could swing that around and use a creationist argument – you weren’t there, so you don’t really know that history happened, so why bother to learn or teach or believe it?

  50. #50 Kagehi
    September 2, 2006

    You say that reading the Bible is akin to viewing porn and violence. Let me ask you if you, an apparent athiest, believe in truth and history.

    In other words, is there such a thing as truth, and can we know it? Similarly, is there such a thing as history, and can it be studied?

    If so, can violent history, or history that has included infidelity or immorality be something we study and learn from?

    How about I answer that, yes, yes, yes, depends. Why the depends for the last one? Because you learn from history to figure out what to avoid, because it got people persecuted, killed, abused, enslaved and generally hurt. The problem with the Bible is that people don’t see it as *mere* history, but a laundry list of things they can pick and choose from, so they learn to love their neighbor by denying them rights, save souls by damning the living, start wars to bring about endless peace, and a whole mass of other complete idiocies. And of course, *that* is **if** they are not one of those small number that pick and choose even more insanely, promoting things like praying for the salation of a rapist, while stoning to death (or the bloodless equivalent of such in places like the US), all while they write a letter decrying stem cell research and simultaniously yelling at the underpriviledged and barely feed kids to get off their over priced, high income, lawn.

    If the Bible where treated as history, that would be one thing. The problem is, **real** history is examined through the mirror of modern morality, our understanding of the human condition, which those in the past lacked, and contextual clues from both the relevant culture, and those they had contact with. It is never **only** judged relative to a single work, never without understanding how it connected to other world events and never with the exclusive presumption that the people that wrote a 4,000-5,000 record of an event where 100% right in how they interpretted events they, for the most part, often didn’t understand they way we could. Such histories are certainly not judged as absolute truths about how the modern world works, what we understand, how we understand it or why, based on modern understandings, any of it was “true”.

    The Bible is at least as good as the writings on the side of an egyptian tomb, the stories of ancient Troy, *or* the legend of Altantis. Sometimes you find the exact place, sometimes people spend years looking in the wrong places, sometimes the tale proves to be a compilation of multiple sources, sometimes you never quite find anything. But, while we know places existed, sometimes people exist, etc., but only the religious make the presumption that the actions, thoughts and events are 100% accurate, even in the face of evidence, like the Gilgamesh tale, which suggest that the religious version of history might be mostly locationally, but choronological wrong and distorted.

    Heck, this later case seems to be true of the whole Moses tale, with new evidence placing it hundreds of years “prior” to when its generally thought to have happened, under a completely different pharoe and with sufficiently different details to make it fair less unbelievable, albeit, at the same time, a lot less miraculous. But people spent years looking in the wrong place, the wrong time frame, etc., because they where more interested in the “truth” of the tale than the accuracy of any part of the complicated mess they invented to try to prove when it happened, how, and under the rule of whom. And even the truth, *now* suggests that not every one that escaped went with Moses, among other “inconveient” truths that blur the intended message a bit.

    I would rather know what *actually* happened, and derive truths from an informed, rational and well considered examination of the facts. Some people would rather throw away any facts or details that seem “inconvenient”, then let someone else, who claims to *know* the truth, tell them what they should think. The former only leads to error if you don’t have all the facts, the later is the cause of nearly every Jihad, Crusade, bizzare cult, mass murder, mass theft, mass brain washing and/or dark age that you identify in history. Forgive me for being a tad suspicious about the sort of *truths* that only make sense if someone repeats them often enough, to someone young enough, and where such people are shielded from stuff that tends to make them question parts of it.

  51. #51 Mark Hubbell
    September 3, 2006

    My point, Carlie and Kagehi, is that this Bible that you are so upset about contains a vast amount of history. Nearly all of the Old Testament is history (with the exception of the wisdom literature like Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon and some of the prophetic books). Similarly, much of the New Testament is history (such as the four Gospels and Acts).

    That history is not license to do all the negative things you are suggesting. Rather, it is a backdrop for biblical teaching on how to live, and the story of God’s redemptive purposes.

    I do not know Wal-Mart’s policies on selling books with violence or sex in them. But the argument against the Bible is a silly one.

    And the argument to not study or learn from history because I was not there to view it is absurd. We learn from studying history. To avoid that is to suppress truth and to condemn us to live in the past.

    You may have one less God than I do, and that is unfortunate. If you were to read the Bible seriously you would discover that God does in fact exist. You would learn of His character and how He has worked through history. You would learn of your origins, why the world is so troubled, and how it can be redeemed.

    In spite of what Dawkins et. al teach, life does have purpose and meaning. You have yet do discover that meaning.

    Taking ignorant pot shots at the Bible while professing to be wise is a formula for disaster. Fortunately, God gives you free will. You can choose to refuse redemption. And that gives you an unobstructed opportunity to reap the consequences.

  52. #52 Carlie
    September 3, 2006

    Hey, Mark? Guess what – I have read the Bible seriously. If I fired up the ol’ neurons, I might be able to match you verse for verse in a memory contest. I could probably still beat you at Bible drill, and I’m almost positive that I know more classic hymns than you do, all the way through the fourth and fifth verses. There are an awful lot of people in the world who reject Christianity not because they don’t know anything about it, but because they know a huge amount about it, and find it wanting morally, ethically, and yes, historically. Much of the Bible is “history” that is corroborated nowhere else, and in fact is countered by the available evidence.

    Again, this wasn’t about the Bible, but about Wal-Mart’s policy on selling violent literature.

    “And the argument to not study or learn from history because I was not there to view it is absurd.”

    Thanks for saying so. I assume you’re not a Creationist, then, at least not one who parrots Ken Ham saying “they weren’t there so they don’t know”?

  53. #53 Mark Hubbell
    September 3, 2006

    Hi Carlie,

    I appreciate the fact that you have a civil tone in this discussion. Most of what I see on blogs is ranting, which serves no productive purpose whatsoever. It says a lot about you that you.

    I am a believer, and have been for about thirly years now. I’d never go back.

    I am surprised that you would say that people would leave Christianity based on a lack of morality. Inasmuch as you know so much about the Bible, would you show me Christ’s immorality?

    After I read your message this morning, I drove over to Wal-Mart to view their book section. I don’t buy books there, so I was not familiar enough with it to speak to a “no violence” policy.

    What I found causes me to doubt that they have such a policy. Here are a few of the titles (there were many more titles than these) I found in their book section:

    –Tyranasaur Canyon (Preston)
    –The Sacred Cut (Henson) – …a novel about a serial killer
    –About a dozen different Stephen King novels.

    …Those all seem fairly violent to me.

    I also noticed that they sell books with sexual themes. While there I saw, among many other titles in the Romance section:

    –“The Perfect Seduction”
    –“His Mistress by Morning”
    –“An Unexpected Pleasure”

    So, I have sincere doubts that Wal-Mart has such a policy as has been suggested in this blog. And, I fail to see how the Bible eclipses any of what I spotted on the shelves this morning.

    And that makes me question the whole purpose of this blog.

    So, what is it that you struggle with in Christianity? If you’d rather write me at Mark_Hubbell@pfm.org.

    Have a good evening!

    Sincrely,

    Mark

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