In an astonishing act, Yale University Press has told an author that her book addressing the controversy over the Muhammad cartoons will be published — without any of the 12 cartoons shown in the book. Muslims consider images of Muhammad to be blasphemous and particularly object to the insulting cartoons, which caused riots and deaths worldwide. Jytte Klausen, author of “The Cartoons That Shook the World” wanted the cartoons to be shown in the book.
While many in the West publicly defended the right of free speech, many countries have quietly passed blasphemy laws and cracked down on anyone insulting Islam or other religions, here. For a prior column criticizing this trend, click here.
While Yale University Press insists that it spoke to a wide range of “experts,” I cannot image the legal experts who supported such an act of self-censorship. I found the cartoons to be juvenile and insulting. However, an academic book on the cartoons — and censorship — should not itself be censored. Yale has caved into violent extremists who killed over 200 people and insist that other cultures must abide by their religious views. The decision must rest with the author, who clearly found the images to be important to a book on those very images. It is like publishing a book on the Sistine Chapel while barring any images of the paintings.
For a leading academic press to engage in such censorship is a major blow to free speech and will likely be cited by commercial publishers who censor authors in the future.
For the full story, click here.