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Target Agrees to Censor, Gets Ratioed

Whoever is in charge of the @AskTarget account would do well to open up a copy of Aesop’s Fables and read “The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey. The moral of that story is one that applies to businesses as well as individuals: “Please all, and you will please none.”


Instead of deciding who should get to ride on the donkey here, the question is what to do about a book for sale that some people assume to be problematic and so consider it offensive or what they call harmful.  Here’s the story in Tweets.


It all started with a rallying cry of “transphobia” that many who have actually read the book say is completely baseless. (The BlueIris04 account has protected tweets, though the screenshot had been copied by others):

The number of the breakdown on responses indicate a ratio not going the way the company would have expected. Some of them were defences of the book like the ones below:

But most focused strictly on the problem with censorship and following the dictates of whoever complains:

Far too many to list here said they will never shop at Target again because of this move.

One even chimed in as an employee:

The meta-analysis

Several also noted that banning books makes people want to read them and so pointed out that Target’s attempts to squelch the book will have the opposite effect as in the two examples below:

As for my take, I’d say that even if all the people who threaten to boycott Target follow through, the store will still remain profitable. However, that doesn’t mean that it made the right move here.

As a lover of books in general, I know that there are many that have some offensive content – even among classics. For example, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales includes a blood libel story, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice gave us another negative Jewish stereotype in Shylock.

Yet no one seriously expects such works to be removed because some may take offense. Part of being an adult is being able to filter through things for yourself without demanding that no one reads what you don’t like.

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