Karl Rove's book tour makes more waves

Some Milwaukee-area customers are unhappy that Karl Rove is including a stop at their local bookstore on his book tour.

John Beale/AP
Karl Rove has met with protest while on tour to promote his memoir "Courage and Consequence."

When former presidential adviser Karl Rove titled his recent memoir "Courage and Consequence" he probably couldn't have imagined that he'd be describing his own book tour. But as Rove has traveled around the US to promote his book his presence has aroused some unintended consequences. And for at least one bookstore owner, going forward with her date with Rove is going to require some courage.

Lanora Hurley announced last week that her bookstore, Next Chapter Bookshop, in Mequon, Wis., in the Greater Milwaukee area, would be hosting an author visit from Karl Rove on May 23. Almost immediately, an online discussion sprang up, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, including comments like, "Guess I won't be shopping there anymore" and "I have spent my last penny in that shop!"

Journal-Sentinel arts and books editor Jim Higgins called the online commentary "chilling" and revelatory of "a lack of understanding of what a full-service bookstore is and does."

Hurley herself jumped into the online discussion with the following statement: "I just wanted to say to you that the whole point of an independent bookstore is to be a place that protects the First Amendment and allows the public to have access to whatever (legal) materials they would like. I do not agree with every author that comes to my store, nor do I feel it is my right to restrict what books my customers want to buy. I am hoping that my store can be the host to ideas from all over the spectrum."

This is not the first time that Rove's book tour has made waves. In both Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, an antiwar demonstrator attempted to make a citizen's arrest of Rove when he showed up to sign copies of his book.

And Rove is not the first political figure to face protest while on book tour. Last year, in a Minnesota bookstore, a protester tossed tomatoes at Sarah Palin. (He missed her and hit a police officer instead.)

For those Milwaukee-area readers who don't care for Rove, Higgins has some advice: "Don't buy his book." However, he adds, "[D]on't shun a local businesswoman just because she has the temerity to sell a few books by a polarizing figure you don't like. She's just doing her job."

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

Are protesters exercising free speech or bad manners when they disrupt book tours? Join the Monitor's book discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

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