Yale Press Runs Scared

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Repudiating its professed commitment to "the discovery and dissemination of light and truth," Yale University Press will publish Jytte Klausen's forthcoming account of the Muhammed cartoon controversy, The Cartoons That Shook the World, only after excising the cartoons and other images of Muhammed. ("Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book," the New York Times reports.)  A justifiably outraged statement from the American Association of University Professors notes that Yale Press is not even responding to threats of violence but merely "anticipating them and making or recommending concessions beforehand." 

cartoon riots 2.JPGGiving in to a fear of violence (the advice of unnamed consultants and, I suspect, some risk averse lawyers), Yale has effectively condoned the heckler's veto.  This policy of appeasement may serve to encourage threats of violence against other authors or publishers of  allegedly blasphemous or presumptively hateful books.  Its chilling effect seems obvious.  As the AAUP statement asks, "What is to stop publishers from suppressing an author's words if it appears they may offend religious fundamentalists or groups threatening violence?" 

(Photo Credit: Creative Commons)


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Wendy Kaminer is an author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional, and a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. More

Wendy Kaminer is a lawyer and social critic who has been a contributing editor of The Atlantic since 1991. She writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion and popular culture and has written eight books, including Worst InstinctsFree for All; Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials; and I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional. Kaminer worked as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society and in the New York City Mayor's Office and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993. She is a renowned contrarian who has tackled the issues of censorship and pornography, feminism, pop psychology, gender roles and identities, crime and the criminal-justice system, and gun control. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The American Prospect, Dissent, The Nation, The Wilson Quarterly, Free Inquiry, and spiked-online.com. Her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio. She serves on the board of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the advisory boards of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Secular Coalition for America, and is a member of the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

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