Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More On "Street Fights."

I actually received a response to my letter from HMV Canada. I must say I am disappointed but not surprised by their answers. I've included the letter below in its entirety for you to read for yourself. For those who want the short version, they basically say that they are not censors and if people want to buy this, they have no moral obligation not to carry it.

This begs the question: whose job is it, and where do we draw the line? Do all of us really have to have somebody else tell us what we should or shouldn't profit from? Is there no longer any personal or professional moral or ethical obligation to do the right thing? How do you try to justify profiting off of a drunk getting beat up purely for entertainment purposes? Who really needs a censor to tell you that's wrong?

Well, that's my rant for the day. If you want to check on the origin of this discussion, look below at "Things That Drive Me Crazy." The letter from HMV Canada follows.


Mr. Denbok:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Like other retailers, HMV offers a wide variety of entertainment product in our stores. This product spans a range of topics and subject matter leaving the personal choice of purchase to the individual consumer (subject to age-restrictions). Certainly we are aware that not all products we offer for sale will meet the value or moral judgment of each individual. As such, product of this nature, while available in some of our stores, is not actively promoted.

It has always been our practice not to act as a censor in terms of the entertainment product we offer for sale in our stores. We realize that entertainment product is a matter of personal taste. While we at HMV may not always agree with or like the content of each and every piece of product available for sale in our stores, or the fact that it is available at all in the marketplace, the reality is that we don’t decide what to stock or sell based on our own personal preferences or biases. It is our belief that the determination as to whether such product is approved for distribution in the mainstream consumer market falls under the responsibility of our elected officials and is subject to rating by Provincial Film Classification Boards. We then determine whether there is demand for this approved product amongst our diverse customer base. Given on average, nearly one million consumers per week shop at our stores, those tastes tend to be quite diverse.

We do understand that all product we carry will not meet the expectations of all consumers all of the time and we and our staff work hard to meet our obligation with respect to refusing the sale of age restricted product to those consumers not meeting the criteria. In the recent article in the press, it claims that we failed in that instance to do so and for that we are most apologetic. In that regard and in an effort to ensure we reduce the possibility of such an error we are in the process of initiating additional safeguards to ensure we don’t sell age restricted product incorrectly and so that we continue to meet our responsibilities as a community partner. Until those safeguards are fully in place we have removed identified titles from the sales floor in those stores that carried them. That being said, we do not censor or restrict product beyond the requirements established by Provincial law as to do so, in our opinion, would be to make value judgments on behalf of all our consumers.

Again, we do appreciate that you would take the time to send us your concerns on a matter that is obviously of great importance. While we would hope that at some time in the future you might again consider HMV we also respect your right to choose to shop in retail venues that you believe are most consistent with your beliefs and values.


Sincerely,

Diane Blois
Vice President Human Resources

My response is as follows:

Dear Diane:

Thank you for your response. I do appreciate it. I understand your position, but I do believe that it needs to be reconsidered. What you basically told me is that if and when snuff films and child pornography become legal in this country, your company would be glad to carry it, rather than make a moral judgment.

It is incumbent on each of us, whether in our business or personal lives, to be responsible "community partners." Surely your company has some standards, some level below which you refuse to sink, whether or not a censor board is asleep at the switch. I truly hope that those who make such decisions in your business will reconsider their position.

Yours Sincerely,

Tony denBok
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