Carnes: Confusing censorship with marketing

Back in the 80s when I had video stores in the valley, I would rent just about any video I could get my hands on, regardless of the subject or the plot. But it was within reason, as I wouldn’t carry a “Pros & Cons of the Holocaust” video or any other propaganda-styled nonsense. 

It was a marketing decision by me, and if a customer wanted that kind of crap, they were free to find it elsewhere.

Expanding into music stores, I proudly displayed a poster of New Kids on the Block with a giant red circle and a slash across the middle for a few years. Customers loved the joke, and I never once felt the need to carry any of the group’s albums.

It was a marketing decision by me, and if a customer wanted that kind of crap, they were free to find it elsewhere.

Last week a representative from a conservative group attempted to shame local businesses on this very page by writing about bookstores not wanting to earn some business at a conference in Beaver Creek this coming weekend by selling books being hawked by their guest speakers.

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The group, which has previously entertained such prominent speakers as the recently indicted lawyer John Eastman, of “Insurrection Day” fame, election denier and wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas, Ginnie Thomas, and Lauren Boebert and Charlie Kirk, claims to “promote America’s first principles and inspire active involvement in the defense of liberty” through principles including “free market capitalism” and “individual rights and responsibilities.”

Quite the interesting mission statement when one side of the representative’s argument said we should all be thankful to live in a country with the freedom of not being forced to sell certain books while the other side (same representative) shouted “Censorship!” after claiming one retailer dared to not sell certain books at their conference.

Or it was something like that. I get kind of bogged down in circular attempts at political-based rationalization.

By the way, the event is called the “Freedom Conference.”

Oh, the irony.

While I fully defend the group’s right to have whoever they wish as a speaker, the refusal by a bookstore to sell conservative books at a conservative conference is not censorship but most likely a marketing decision by local store owners, and if a customer wants that kind of book, they are free to find it elsewhere.

Put it this way, if any local business does not wish to partner with you or carry an item that you wish for them to — tough cookies. Deal with it. There’s a good chance the local business views such a partnership, or not carrying such an item, as a benefit to its customers, in spite of your political-based desires.

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Either way, they have the freedom to do so.

Although the conference is held in our very own beautiful Beaver Creek, the group is named for a different town, which only goes to prove they do indeed know at least a little bit about marketing.

And for the record, I never sold a single New Kids album.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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