Sunday, August 23, 2009

The WaPo Addresses Self-Censorship

In a lead editorial on Sunday, August 23, 2009, and regarding Yale University Press's cowardice in not publishing the MTP cartoons:
Self-Muzzled at Yale:
A university publisher allows the possibility of Muslim reaction to alter an academic work

AN ILLUSTRATION from a children's book. An Ottoman print. A 19th-century artist's depiction of "Dante's Inferno." These are among the images Yale University Press has decided it's unsafe to reproduce in a scholarly work, lest they incite violence from Islamic extremists. The Press's John Donatich explained that the publisher doesn't shy away from controversy, but "when it came between that and blood on my hands, there was no question."

This is simply wrong.

The scholarly work in question is Jytte Klausen's "Cartoons that Shook the World," a book about the 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad whose 2005 appearance in a Danish paper ignited a worldwide controversy. Yale University Press is publishing it in the fall -- or some of it. Not just the picture of the newspaper's controversial page of cartoons but all of the book's illustrations, which include a historical range of artistic depictions of the prophet, will be omitted. Why? Because what the Press described as a group of "counterterrorism officials . . . U.S. diplomats . . . foreign ambassadors from Muslim countries . . . and senior scholars in Islamic studies" -- without so much as reading the book -- deemed them too inflammatory to publish. This was after the book had passed Yale University Press's own vetting process, was examined by lawyers and read by multiple Islamic reviewers who agreed that the images should be included. Worse, the book's author could not even read the objections from the largely unidentified group of experts unless she signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Yale's self-censorship establishes a dangerous precedent. If one of the world's most respected scholarly publishers cannot print these images in context in an academic work, who can? To be sure, the cartoons are inflammatory and tasteless, depicting the prophet with a bomb as a turban or telling a group of suicide bombers to "Stop! We have run out of virgins!" But it's difficult to imagine a more legitimate place for them or to understand why a prohibition on images of the prophet that is not even observed by all Muslims should have to apply to a scholarly work by a nonbeliever.

In effect, Yale University Press is allowing violent extremists to set the terms of free speech. As an academic press that embraces the university's motto of "Lux et Veritas," it should be ashamed.
The editorial has three pages of comments so far.


Pastorius said...

The Washington Post used the word "Muzzled" in a story about Muslims. Isn't that uncomfortably close to the common bigoted slur used by Islamophobes?


revereridesagain said...

WAPO printed this editorial? 'Scuse me whilst I check out the window for flying ham hocks...

Good to see that aside from one or two limp wet noodles amongst the commenters everybody else had some grasp of the First Amendment and how crucial an issue this is?

"Blood on your hands" from running the Danish cartoons? Wash it off. You didn't put it there. Some Muslim a-hole with a scimitar in place of a brain who wanted to put another down payment on his heavenly houris is totally responsible for that.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - down a little farther you posted the WaPo editorial observing that "individual mandate" is not enforceable because Congress does not have the power to require Americans to buy insurance.

What the heck is going on at the WaPo? New editorial staff?



Always On Watch said...

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read the WaPo editorial about Yale University Press.

As for what's going on at the WaPo, a few years back I actually encountered a couple of editors willing to publish about some of the unsavory aspects of Islam. In fact, I spoke with two of those editors by phone.

The editor-in-chief at that time was a different sort and refused to "insult" Islam.

There has been a recent turnover in staff at the WaPo.

Always On Watch said...

The posting a few below this one was one of a guest column, I think.

However, this post is one of lead editorial. A difference there.

Neville Chamberlain said...

Sorry guys, we Brits have beaten you to it.

When it comes to Motoons, Cambridge University is a couple of years ahead of Yale in abject grovelling dhimmitude...