Progressives in the United Kingdom are cheering after a major retailer pulled a conservative publication from shelves after wokes complained of its offensive content. WH Smith dumped ‘The European Conservative’ after reading online comments complaining about two key features in the latest issue of the print magazine, an action that is being described as a ‘retail fatwa’ by the publication’s Editor in Chief.
At issue for the free-speech hating extremists is the most recent issue of the mag, which included an interview with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and a cartoon satirizing LGBT and ideological indoctrination in schools. WH Smith decided to cancel the publication after the online uproar, a move that has been heavily criticized by the publication itself.
However, ‘The European Conservative’ insists that the ubiquitous retailer’s decision to remove the publication from all of its stores and kiosks was the result of just nine email complaints from individuals who claimed to be enraged by the publication’s content. As the conservative magazine said in a tweet, “Rather than telling them to shove off, and that they are free not to buy our magazine, WH Smith instead said they’d take the magazine off the shelves while they are “in discussion with the publisher.” ‘The European Conservative’ added that WH Smith has not yet contacted them to discuss the decision, nor what the future holds for the publication’s reappearance on the shelves.
The magazine hopes that the decision to pull it from the shelves is just a temporary one. At the heart of the censorship is the retailer’s apparent favoritism toward left-leaning publications, something that ‘The European Conservative’ called out. The conservative publication’s core mission is to explore all facets of conservatism in Europe, even elements deemed controversial, and is a staunch advocate of freedom of expression and “true diversity of opinion,” as reported by Breitbart. The retailer has not banned other publications for so-called offensive or controversial content, so it is perplexing that it has chosen to do so now.
1/3 Apparently, someone was in @WHSmith and saw our magazines. He was offended by a cartoon, a blurb, and an interview with Viktor Orbán in our Spring and Summer print editions.
That person complained to WH Smith (on Twitter & Insta) and told other people to complain, as well. pic.twitter.com/fWyKAsLxVb
— The European Conservative (@EuroConOfficial) August 21, 2022
“Does WH Smith ban pornography because it offends women, the devout, or the pious? No. Does WH Smith ban Salman Rushdie’s works because they offend Muslims? No,” it continued. “What happened to the international spirit of ‘Je suis Charlie’, so popular a few years ago, in the face of more violent acts of censorship and limitations on freedom of expression?”
According to its website, WHSmith began in 1792 as family-run newsagents, then evolved to become the first retail chain in the world. This year the company is celebrating its 230th anniversary and has over 1,200 stores along main streets across the U.K. in cities big and small, in train stations, airports, rest stops, and hospitals.
In an interview with Breitbart Europe, Alvino-Mario Fantini, Editor in Chief of ‘The European Conservative,’ and the person who referred to WH Smith’s decision as a ‘retail fatwa,’ said he is bewildered at the retailer’s move as a company that sells a variety of books and other publications should be on the frontlines protecting freedom of speech:
“WH Smith’s removal of our publication from their shelves — and their refusal to communicate their official decision with us directly and transparently — is hugely disappointing…We thought that as booksellers and newsagents, they would be the ones to push back against attempts at censorship.”
It remains to be seen if regular customers and freedom lovers will complain over the disappearance of the magazine, perhaps even boycott the retailer, or if WH Smith will continue to cave to the woke mob, no matter how small it is. But WH Smith is not the only retailer in town, and no word if its competitors, Tesco, Waterstones, and Ryman among others, will follow suit.