Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yale University Press cowardice

Yale University Press is releasing a book on Danish cartoons that caused riots in muslim countries (pictured to the left) (individual links). The book is called The Cartoons That Shook the World by Jytte Klausen. Yale University press removed the 12 cartoons plus several others from the book due to fear of violence. That's caving into censorship and cowardice of the worst sort. Their claim (see official statement) is that their publication would result in a violent response in which case that's all the more reason to publish them. Not publishing for fear of the response is giving into terrorism.

I don't have anything particularly insightful to say, this is just a crime without justification. I don't know if I would have bought the book anyway but I certainly won't now. I agree 100% with Sherry Jones (who published a similar book) self censorship changes the world for the worse.

In 2006 we saw a lot of fake bravery by newspapers arguing they should have the freedom to publish these cartoons while refusing to do so for fear of violence (see list of newspapers that did publish them). Yale continues the tradition wanting to get credit for writing a "brave" book on the topic while not having the guts to even print images that are widely distributed (including wikipedia) for 3 years. Shame on them. Thankfully the American Association of University Professors agrees:
We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands.” That is effectively the new policy position at Yale University Press, which has eliminated all visual depictions of the Prophet Muhammad from Jytte Klausen’s new book The Cartoons That Shook the World.

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