Our View: All's not well
The convoluted tale of a banned-books window display, the reaction of some company members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the festival's rather heavy-handed response is apparently ending. It's not ending well for either party, or for the community.
Judi Honoré, owner of Shakespeare Books & Antiques on East Main Street, maintained a display of books that have been banned for one reason or another over the years. Among those books was "Little Black Sambo," which in some editions featured racially stereotyped illustrations.
This summer, as OSF was presenting "The Wiz" with an all-black cast, "Little Black Sambo" appeared in the window alongside "The Wizard of Oz," another book banned in the past. Cast members of "The Wiz" who saw the display objected to Honoré, and she rearranged the books, but left "Sambo" on display.
After meeting to discuss the matter, Honoré and OSF officials were unable to resolve their differences, and the festival announced its staff would no longer make official purchases from the store.
Honoré now says she will close the store after sales declined drastically. OSF officials say the festival made only a few small purchases there, so that couldn't be the cause.
The controversy generated support for Honoré, but she says that didn't translate into sales. She also says the closure isn't prompted by sales alone.
Whatever the reasons, one less bookstore is a loss for the community, and OSF has come away diminished by seeming to miss the very point of Honoré's censorship display.