47

Muhammad cartoons redux

Yale University Press bans images of the prophet in new book


 

The prestigious Yale University Press plans to release The Cartoons that Shook the World in November, not only without any of the 12 caricatures that sparked violence in which 200 people died in 2005, but without any other illustrations of the prophet. (The book was originally supposed to include a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí.) Its author, Jytte Klausen, a Danish-born professor of politics at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., reluctantly accepted YUP’s decision not to publish the cartoons. But she was disturbed by the withdrawal of the other representations of Muhammad. All of those images are widely available, Klausen said, adding that “Muslim friends, leaders and activists thought that the incident was misunderstood, so the cartoons needed to be reprinted so we could have a discussion about it.” Klausen, who is also the author of The Islamic Challenge: Politics and Religion in Western Europe, argued that the cartoon protests were not spontaneous but rather orchestrated demonstrations by extremists in Denmark and Egypt who were trying to influence elections there and by others hoping to destabilize governments in Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya and Nigeria. The cartoons, she maintained, were a pretext, a way to mobilize dissent in the Muslim world. Although many Muslims believe the Koran prohibits images of the prophet, Muhammad has been depicted through the centuries in both Islamic and Western art without inciting disturbances.

The New York Times


 
Filed under:

Muhammad cartoons redux

  1. Anybody who's insulted by a cartoon, and then shouts "Death to (insert name here)" needs to review their moral priorities.

    Maybe I'm in the minority, but freedom of speech and freedom of the press, in my mind, is more important and ethical than censoring the press because someone's feelings might get hurt.

    • I agree that self-censorship is a worrying phenomenon. But at the same time, I'm sympathetic to publishers who have to weigh the pragmatic outcomes of infuriating small, but potentially violent, segments of the population.

      There's certain neighbourhoods I'd avoid walking thorugh late at night. Not because I don't have a right to, but because I'd rather avoid getting mugged if I can help it. I think publishers are using the same logic, to some extent, and are trying to protect their staff and authors from harm.

    • I agree that self-censorship is a worrying phenomenon. But at the same time, I'm sympathetic to publishers who have to weigh the pragmatic outcomes of infuriating small, but potentially violent, segments of the population.

      There's certain neighbourhoods I'd avoid walking thorugh late at night. Not because I don't have a right to, but because I'd rather avoid getting mugged if I can help it. I think publishers are using the same logic, to some extent, and are trying to protect their staff and authors from harm.

      (and you get a thumbs-up from me for the basic principle you express!)

      • I agree that the publishers are afraid of retribution from a small group of fanatics, but the overwhelming majority of Muslims were against the protests. We should be listening to them, letting their voices heard, and not this minority. If the publishers are afraid, haven't they (the fanatics) won?

        • In the short term, yes they have won. I guess I'm trying to come at this from the perspective of the publisher, and I just don't think it's fair to pile on them (you didn't, so much, I know).

          They could have refused to touch the project completely, in which case they would have avoided any criticism. I'm going to bet other publishers wouldn't even consider it.

          We all know that there's a small group of crazies who get wound up about these cartoons. There's no need to revisit that reality. So a publisher has to consider the benefit of including the images, alongside the potential fallout (which could easily include staff, authors, family, etc.)

          I would be happier to see the governments of Canada, Denmark, and the USA put the images up on their own websites as a show of solidarity, if that's what we want to do. Asking publishers to step forward into that sh*tstorm may be a bit much.

  2. Why publish a book about these cartoons without the images? Don't waste the paper. It's attrocious that they are self-censoring in this way. If the book wasn't ALL ABOUT the cartoons, it wouldn't be so worrisome. But considering the TITLE talks about the cartoons, it is insane that the cartoons aren't in the book. I will boycott the book for the spinelessness of the publishers.

    • OK, adb215, I have a suggestion. Go set up a webpage that reprints all of the cartoons, and any other depictions of Muhammad you can find that might inflame those crazies. Be sure to paste a photograph of yourself, your address, names of your friends and family, and phone number up alongside them too.

      It will cost you next to nothing, and you'll be able to show the publishers how silly and spineless they really are.

    • OK, adb215, I have a suggestion. Go set up a webpage that reprints all of the cartoons, and any other depictions of Muhammad you can find that might inflame those crazies. Be sure to paste a photograph of yourself, your real name, your address, names of your friends and family, and your phone number up alongside them too.

      It will cost you next to nothing, and you'll be able to show the publishers how silly and spineless they really are.

    • See my response to adb215. Be my guest to do the same.

      • If I was publishing a book on the topic, I would.

        The fact that there are thugs who would cause trouble does not excuse the cowardice of giving in to them. Be my guest to call it what it is, as you would if a publisher knuckled under to a less politically-correct group like the Mafia or the Neo-nazis.

      • If I was publishing a book on the topic, I would.

        The fact that there are thugs who would cause trouble does not excuse the cowardice of giving in to them. Be my guest to call it what it is, as you would if a publisher knuckled under to the Mafia or the Neo-nazis.

        • This coming from a person who doesn't even use their real name on a benign politics blog. I don't know if you have a family, or have ever been a position where you were responsible for the welfare of employees. But such things tend to nuance one's decisions beyond simplistic hero-coward dichotomies.

          Seriously, you want to go around calling people cowards? Put up that web page and show me just how brave you are.

          • Funny you should bring it up. I actually once was (along with several others) the object of violence once for daring to speak up about a politically incorrect issue (abortion). But regardless of whether I'm a coward, it would not change the truth of the matter. Cowardice is what it is regardless of whether we're hyprocrites when we call it out.

            Also, there are two levels of cowardice: those who refuse to put their lives on the line for truth, and those who refuse to even stand contra the politically correct worldview by calling it as it is. You would not be excusing these publishers if they were deleting references to the Mafia or the Neo-nazis, regardless of threats. It is the politically incorrect nature of these cartoons that makes you excuse this case.

          • "Cowardice is what it is regardless of whether we're hyprocrites when we call it out."

            So you're right because you're right? Well, that's enough for me.

            "It is the politically incorrect nature of these cartoons that makes you excuse this case."

            Go f**k yourself. Your myopic consideration of evidence once again has led you to an incorrect assumption. I would make the same argument if the potential violent backlash involved Neo-Nazis or the Mafia. Don't try to drag me into your simplistic world view that renders those who disagree as ideologically warped. Politically incorrect enough for ya, pinhead?

          • "Cowardice is what it is regardless of whether we're hyprocrites when we call it out."

            So you're right because you're right? Well, that's enough for me.

            "It is the politically incorrect nature of these cartoons that makes you excuse this case."

            Go f**k yourself. Your myopic consideration of evidence once again has led you to an incorrect assumption. I would make the same argument if the potential violent backlash involved Neo-Nazis or the Mafia. Don't try to drag me into your simplistic world view that renders those who disagree as ideologically warped. Politically incorrect enough for ya?

          • Easy tiger. There are two points here:

            (1) I think the publishers are cowards for agreeing to publish the book about the cartoons, and then chickening out from actually printing the cartoons – or any images of Mohammed, even benign ones, as it turns out. Granted, they will probably face violence from thugs if they do it. Knuckling under to thugs rather than doing your job s … altogether now … cowardice.

            (2) Your objection seems to reduce to this "You're a coward too, so don't accuse them of being cowards."
            Ok, let's say, for the sake of argument, that I'm a coward too. Now, how does that have any bearing on whether the publisher is acting shamefully? It's a common logical fallacy you've made here: whether I live up to my words has no bearing on whether my words are true.

          • Easy tiger. No need to fly off the handle. There are two valid points here:

            (1) The publishers are cowards for agreeing to publish the book about the cartoons, and then chickening out from actually printing the cartoons – or any images of Mohammed, even benign ones, as it turns out. Granted, they will probably face violence from thugs if they do it. Knuckling under to thugs rather than doing your job s … altogether now … cowardice.

            (2) Your objection seems to reduce to this "You're a coward too, so don't accuse them of being cowards."
            Ok, let's say, for the sake of argument, that I'm a coward too. Now, how does that have any bearing on whether the publisher is acting shamefully? It's a common logical fallacy you've made here: whether I live up to my words has no bearing on whether my words are true.

          • Easy tiger. No need to fly off the handle. There are two valid points here:

            (1) The publishers are cowards for agreeing to publish a book about the cartoons, and then chickening out from actually printing the cartoons – or any images of Mohammed, even benign ones, as it turns out. Granted, they will probably face violence from thugs if they do it. Knuckling under to thugs rather than doing your job s … altogether now … cowardice.

            (2) Your objection seems to reduce to this "You're a coward too, so don't accuse them of being cowards."
            Ok, let's say, for the sake of argument, that I'm a coward too. Now, how does that have any bearing on whether the publisher is acting shamefully? It's a common logical fallacy you've made here: whether I live up to my words has no bearing on whether my words are true.

          • Easy tiger. No need to fly off the handle. There are two valid points here:

            (1) The publishers are cowards for agreeing to publish a book about the cartoons, and then chickening out from actually printing the cartoons – or any images of Mohammed, even benign ones, as it turns out. Granted, they will probably face violence from thugs if they do it. Knuckling under to thugs rather than doing your job is … altogether now … cowardice.

            (2) Your objection seems to reduce to this "You're a coward too, so don't accuse them of being cowards."
            Ok, let's say, for the sake of argument, that I'm a coward too. Now, how does that have any bearing on whether the publisher is acting shamefully? It's a common logical fallacy you've made here: whether I live up to my words has no bearing on whether my words are true.

          • " It's a common logical fallacy you've made here: whether I live up to my words has no bearing on whether my words are true."

            Actually, the mistaken logic is all your own. You are assuming that cowardice is an absolute, black and white category of behaviour. You go so far as to say backing down from thugs is cowardice. Really? So if a guy with a gun demands my wallet, and I give it to him rather than be shot, I'm a coward? Even if my kids are there and may be shot too?

          • "You go so far as to say backing down from thugs is cowardice."

            No, what I said is that backing down from thugs rather than doing your job is cowardice. There is a difference between risking harm for the sake of your wallet and risking harm for the sake of an agreement you've made to publish the truth about a violent mob. The former is prudence; the latter is cowardice.

          • "You go so far as to say backing down from thugs is cowardice."

            No, what I said is that backing down from thugs rather than doing your job is cowardice. There is a difference between risking harm for the sake of your wallet and risking harm for the sake of an agreement you've made to publish the truth about an incendiary story. The former is prudence; the latter is cowardice.

          • "You go so far as to say backing down from thugs is cowardice."

            No, what I said is that backing down from thugs rather than doing your job is cowardice. There is a difference between risking harm for the sake of your wallet and risking harm for the sake of an agreement you've made to publish the truth about a violent mob. The former is foolhardiness; the latter is basic courage.

          • "You go so far as to say backing down from thugs is cowardice."

            No, what I said is that backing down from thugs rather than doing your job is cowardice. There is a difference between risking harm for the sake of your wallet and risking harm for the sake of an agreement you've made to publish the truth about a violent mob. The former is foolhardiness; the latter is basic courage.

          • "You go so far as to say backing down from thugs is cowardice."

            No, what I said is that backing down from thugs rather than doing your job is cowardice.

            There is a difference between risking harm for the sake of your wallet and risking harm for the sake of an agreement you've made to publish the truth about a violent mob. The former is foolhardiness; the latter is basic courage.

          • Fair distinction to make.

            But the book can still be published, and contribute to the discourse about all of this, without the images. So cowardly is far too strong a word for such a context (hundreds of publishers aren't putting out anything on the topic at all – what do we say to them?) And I don't buy it that it's their *job* or mission to publish this particular tome.

            And I still find it a bit rich to demand that publishers take risks that ordinary citizens are not prepared to. The cartoons have already been published. We know the potential. If they went ahead and included them many would accuse them of rubbing salt into wounds to gain publicity and drive sales.

          • Sean shoots himself in the foot with this statement – he wrote:
            "You go so far as to say backing down from thugs is cowardice. Really? So if a guy with a gun demands my wallet, and I give it to him rather than be shot, I'm a coward? Even if my kids are there and may be shot too?"

            Interesting analogy SeanStok. So I am assuming in your analogy that YOU are YALE University. The thug with the gun is extremist ISLAM and its followers. Your kids are anyone else who may be hurt by the resulting riots caused by the cartoons.

            Yep…pretty clear you understand the situation perfectly, but are too much of a politically correct lapdog to come right out and state the obvious. My My…..moral superiority certainly makes one feel better doesn't it?

            Of course….for your kids sake, I hope you can throw that aside if you really need to protect them.

          • Um, I was cautioning folks not to jump into calling the publishers cowards.

            How the f**k does that translate into moral superiority? I would tend to avoid inviting conflict that could get others hurt as a result of my own avoidable actions, depending on the context. You're saying I should jump the muggers and let them start shooting at my kids?

          • Funny you should bring it up. I actually was (along with several others) the object of violence once for daring to speak up about a politically incorrect issue (abortion). But regardless of whether I'm a coward, it would not change the truth of the matter. Cowardice is what it is regardless of whether we're hyprocrites when we call it out.

            Also, there are two levels of cowardice: those who refuse to put their lives on the line for truth, and those who refuse to even stand contra the politically correct worldview by calling it as it is. You would not be excusing these publishers if they were deleting references to the Mafia or the Neo-nazis, regardless of threats. It is the politically incorrect nature of these cartoons that makes you excuse this case.

          • Funny you should bring it up. I actually once was (along with several others) the object of violence for daring to speak up about a politically incorrect issue (abortion). But regardless of whether I'm a coward, it would not change the truth of the matter. Cowardice is what it is regardless of whether we're hyprocrites when we call it out.

            Also, there are two levels of cowardice: those who refuse to put their lives on the line for truth, and those who refuse to even stand contra the politically correct worldview by calling it as it is. You would not be excusing these publishers if they were deleting references to the Mafia or the Neo-nazis, regardless of threats. It is the politically incorrect nature of these cartoons that makes you excuse this case.

      • If I was publishing a book on the topic, I would.

        The fact that there are thugs who would cause trouble does not excuse the cowardice of giving in to them. Be my guest to call it what it is, as you would if a publisher knuckled under to the mob or the Neo-nazis.

  3. If I was publishing a book on the topic, I would.

    The fact that there are thugs who would cause trouble does not excuse the cowardice of giving in to them.

  4. SeanStok: I am not media. I do not claim to be. I am not writing a book about the cartoons. Yale is writing a book about the cartoons. Why even BOTHER is my question? What is the point of writing the book if they aren't going to print them? Truly? I am glad that you are willing to let extremists run you over. If I were to go set up a website, it would be spiteful, which is very different from spineless. I don't do many things out of spite, and this is one. If I were to write a book about the cartoons, darn right I'd reprint them. But what purpose am I serving by creating a website with the cartoons other than spite? I have nothing to SAY about them. Yale apparently does. So they need to do it right or not do it.

    • One can discuss material without images of the same. Your point is well taken about the spiteful nature of a web page, but my underlying intent was to show that it's too easy to slam the publishers when it's their asses on the line, not ours. And you can't seriously be arguing that a discussion about the cartoons is completely without merit in the absence of acompanying images. Are you?

    • One can discuss material without images of the same. Your point is well taken about the spiteful nature of a web page, but my underlying intent was to show that it's too easy to slam the publishers when it's their asses on the line, not ours. And you can't seriously be arguing that a discussion about the cartoons is completely without merit in the absence of accompanying images. Are you?

      • Sean…please describe the following material to me. Be detailed, as printing these materials is currently verbotten.

        Red
        Yellow
        Green
        Blue
        Turquoise

    • "I am glad that you are willing to let extremists run you over."

      Just to be clear, I didn't say or imply that. However, I tend to avoid bravado that places other people in danger. Go ahead and call me a coward if that's how you define it. I've also found that the world is full of people willing to stand behind you – and I mean *well* behind you – when egging on righteous behavour that might have nasty consequences.

  5. You'll notice that any time an "artist" defaces a bible or places a crucifix in a bottle of his own urine the Christians complain about the lack of respect. You'll notice that every time someone spray paints a swastika on a synagogue or gravestone the Jews complain about the lack or respect, and even write letters to the editor.

    What happens when you insult Islam?

    They whack your head off and murder your family.

    I would say that NOT reprinting the cartoons, and the reason given is probably more of a warning about the dangers of Islam than any cartoon ever could be.

    • "They whack your head off and murder your family"

      Yes. All Muslims, in all places, at any time will do so. Just like all Catholic priests will prey on kids like those dudes out east.

      Why do these conversations always turn into a ranking of religions? Even if we accept that there are more crazies currently inspired by Islamic sh*t disturbers, I can never see how pointing out that Christians or Jews not acting that way helps.

    • "They whack your head off and murder your family"

      Yes. All Muslims, in all places, at any time will do so. Just like all Catholic priests will prey on kids like those dudes out east.

      Why do these conversations always turn into a ranking of religions? Even if we accept that there are more crazies currently inspired by Islamic sh*t disturbers, I can never see how pointing out that Christians or Jews might not act that way helps.

      • I guess I should have clarified somewhat; A MUCH HIGHER PERCENTAGE of people of the Muslim faith will whack your head off and kill your family, than the percentages of folks of the Christian or Jewish faith who would do the same.
        come to think of it….when was the last time you heard of a Christian or Jew doing this? Hindu? Buddhist?
        Yep…those ranking of religions serve absolutely NO PURPOSE whatsoever. Except they do tell you who to be concerned about.

        As for you "never seeing" how pointing out that Christians or Jews might not that way helps?
        Well…….then I guess you have missed the entire meaning of the original article and every comment since then.
        Here's a hint:
        THE ONLY REASON Yale didn't include the cartoons in the book……about the cartoons in question….is because they didn't want _____________(Place religion of choice here, but exclude Christians, Jews, Hindu's and Buddhists) to whack anyone's head off or murder your family.

        Hope that clears it up for you.

        • And what's your broader point, may I ask? I think I agreed that there are currently more crazies inspired by Muslim agitators than other religions. So what? I still fail to see how this speaks to this particular issue.

          Then again, you are clearly convinced that I'm a dummy and that you've got a superior perspective on all of this, so maybe there's nothing to talk about here.

  6. Because I am honestly an absolutist about free speech. There should be no limits. None.

    But I also have kids, and I used to manage a few dozen employees. Both experiences have taught me that it's often difficult, and never clear-cut, when some decisions have ramifications beyond one's own welfare.

  7. "I would be happier to see the governments of Canada, Denmark, and the USA put the images up on their own websites as a show of solidarity, if that's what we want to do. Asking publishers to step forward into that sh*tstorm may be a bit much."

    Agreed!

  8. Also, while I appreciate how your run-in with violence would be a life-changing experience, you completely miss what I was getting at: being "brave" when others may suffer for your actions is not the same thing as being the sole 'owner' of any reprecusions (the reference to family or employees gets at that). It's like betting with someone else's money – it's not really gambling. So, my critique of your own position has a lot to do with your pushing others to go tempt voilence, without stepping forward with them. Reminds me of the fable about the mice deciding that the cat needed a bell.

    So in this case, as a member of the same very broad society as these publishers, your own position and actions (or lack thereof) are relevant.

  9. It's not like these publishers were walking down the street and ignored a woman being raped or something horriffic like that. Clearly, failing to assist would be cowardly in that case. This whole thing is about individuals (with a responsibliity beyond their own skins) weighing the benefits and risk of potential actions (and optional actions, at that). Timid, perhaps. Cowardly? Nope.

Sign in to comment.