In what the magazine says is a historical first, major bookstore chains are refusing to sell a particular issue of Free Inquiry magazine — not because it is violent, pornographic or advocates illegal conduct, but simply because they do not like its editorial content. (The magazine dared to reprint the Danish Muhammad cartoons — only the subject of one of the biggest news stories to come along in the past couple of years.)
Roger L. Simon, Charles Johnson, and Ed Driscoll have more on this step backwards.
I completely agree with Glenn Reynolds’ characterization:

Advancing toward fascism, one cowardly institution at a time.

The Buffalo News has more on the story, including a report that Barnes & Noble “expressed some concerns” and that Free Inquiry isn’t available there either:

This week, a Canada-based distributor of Free Inquiry informed editors that Borders would not sell the latest issue in its stores.
Beth Bingham, a company spokeswoman, confirmed that Wednesday.
“We feel strongly for the safety and security of our employees and customers,” Bingham said.
She said the company operates more than 475 Borders and 650 Waldenbooks stores in the United States, though not all regularly carry the magazine.
The Borders stores usually stock as many as 1,000 copies of Free Inquiry, and the chain typically is the magazine’s largest newsstand retailer, said Tom Flynn, editor.
Barnes & Noble, the magazine’s second-largest retailer, also expressed some concerns about the April-May issue, printed March 16, Flynn said. A distributor told Flynn more than a week ago that the chain was reviewing the magazine, but the issue so far has not been refused, he said.
The magazine hadn’t become available as of Wednesday at the Barnes & Noble stores on Transit Road and Niagara Falls Boulevard stores in Amherst, which usually carry Free Inquiry. Company officials could not be reached to comment.
Flynn said he was disappointed by what he described as “exaggerated concerns” that were not in the best interests of readers.

Such “exaggerated concerns” are, however, in the best interest of those who believe in blowing things up in order to be listened to.

He noted that publication of the cartoons in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Austin American-Statesman had not provoked any violent response in the United States.
“This is the first time any retailer has declined to carry one of our issues because of content,” he said.
Bingham said she did not know whether Borders stores in Philadelphia and Austin had refused to sell those newspapers on the day the cartoons ran.

That same question occurred to me earlier, but I’m quite sure they sold the Inquirer on that day. (It was a Saturday surprise, and I doubt Borders — or Barnes & Noble as the case may be — saw it coming.)
I think everyone in the blogosphere who cares about these things should go order a copy here.
UPDATE (03/31/06): Samizata’s Dale Amon urges that we BOYCOTT BORDERS:

I recommend anyone who decides to quit Borders not simply stop going. You should make one last appearance and tell them why you will not be back. If you prefer a carrot approach, tell them what they could do to win the return of you and others like you.

(Via InstaPundit, who also links to another hell of a good letter to Borders.)
(My local Barnes & Noble is across the street from my local Borders, which makes it effortless to boycott the latter.)
UPDATE: I just sent the following letter to Borders’ Public Relations Manager Beth Bingham (who is quoted above):

Ms. Beth Bingham
Public Relations Manager
Borders Group, Inc.
Dear Ms. Bingham:
As a longtime Borders customer, I am appalled by your company’s decision to ban the sale of Free Inquiry because of the magazine’s content. As you know, your stores carried the magazine routinely, but have specifically refused the latest issue because it includes the Danish Muhammad cartoons — perfectly legal material the subject of which goes to the very heart of free speech and our democratic traditions.
As a reason for banning the magazine, you stated that “we feel strongly for the safety and security of our employees and customers.” That statement makes it perfectly clear that you are allowing threats (or perceived threats) of violence to dictate content. Under the logic which you have proffered, any group — whether a racist group, an anti-gay group, or a radical environmental or animal rights group — ought to now feel encouraged to issue violent threats in order to have literature it does not like pulled from the shelves. How does such a result in any way promote “safety”?
If there was a genuine threat of violence, why didn’t Borders simply contact the police or FBI before complying with the demands? I think Borders’ conduct does a disservice to its customers as well as the cause of free speech.
If a leading bookstore cannot appreciate the value of free speech, perhaps it can appreciate the value of customer goodwill. You have lost mine.
Unless I am assured that Borders’ policy has been changed I will buy my books elsewhere.
Eric Scheie