Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Block That Book!

I don't know if this is a case of content censorship or favoritism to a local industry.
Store pulls children's book off shelves due to anti-seal hunt stance

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A Newfoundland author claims she is being censored after the province's largest local book distributor refused to stock her children's book because of its critical portrayal of the seal hunt.

Littleseal, written by Morgan Pumphrey, tells the tale of a harp seal pup born on the ice floes off northern Newfoundland.

During the first three weeks of his life, Littleseal survives encounters with an ecotourist and a hungry polar bear, as well as separation from its mother. But he's killed after a "blinding, crunching, thud" at the hands of a seal hunter wielding a hakapik.

Pumphrey, a longtime opponent of the hunt, said she was disappointed but not surprised when the Downhome Shoppe and Gallery, a well-known store in downtown St. John's that sells locally made crafts and products, refused to carry her self-published book.

"The way I see it, going against the seal hunt is like going against the cod fishery in Newfoundland," Pumphrey said Wednesday in an interview.

"It's a motherhood issue and I've got to expect 99.9 per cent of the population to be against me, and it looks like they are."

Seal hunters and the federal government vigorously defend the hunt as sustainable, humane and a vital source of income for fishermen in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. But animal rights groups have just as vigorously called for the hunt to be banned, arguing it is cruel and provides little economic benefit.

Grant Young, president of parent company Downhome Inc., said Pumphrey's book was rejected because it wouldn't suit its customer base.

"The seal industry needs a few people on its side," said Young, who comes from a family of seal hunters.

"We don't call it censoring so much as making a decision. Do we want a product that fits our retail mandate and our company mandate?"

Young said the book was refused also due to an anticipated lack of demand.

"It's not going to be a powerful piece of literature that we're going to hold back from society," he said.

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