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This was written in part before today's tabloid shitstorm.

The Co-op supermarket account on Twitter had said, in response to someone saying that tabloid headlines inciting hatred against immigrants made them feel unsafe:

Now, I respect organizations that take the extreme-free-speech position "we will allow everything that does not break the law". In fact, I expect it of organizations like ISPs.

But the Co-op doesn't take that position - it refuses to stock pornography, and it made great play of requiring "lads' mags" to be presented in plain covers, and removing them when they refused. And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't stock anything titled Neo-Nazi Monthly no matter how much demand there was.

The state of being an immigrant is not a protected characteristic in the way that race, religion, or sexual orientation is. But inciting hatred against immigrants is (in my eyes, anyway!) equally reprehensible to stirring up hatred against Jewish or Muslim or black or gay people.

The Co-op* is welcome to decide that it's going to stock everything. It's welcome to decide that it's going to exclude some offensive things, but the Daily Express is not sufficiently offensive. What it doesn't get to do is to exclude some offensive things but then pretend that its reason for not excluding the Daily Express is that they "need to offer choice to all customers, regardless of political leanings".

Catering for customers who want to read diatribes against refugees but not customers who want to see sideboob is an arbitrary political position, it's not the high ground of hallowed neutrality, and if you're going to take that position, you should be prepared to defend it rather than pretend it doesn't exist.

* or any other mainstream retailer, pretty much. The Co-op is no worse than any other AFAICT.
TBH I'm unsure myself whether it's appropriate to stock these titles, to refuse to stock them, or to stock them but insist on plain covers. But I am sure that it's a reasonable question to ask and shouldn't be dismissed with "we have to cater to all political orientations".


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