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Yale University Press Buys Into the Blame-the-Speaker Approach:

Christopher Hitchens' Slate column strikes me as quite right on this (emphasis and first link added):

The capitulation of Yale University Press to threats that hadn't even been made yet is the latest and perhaps the worst episode in the steady surrender to religious extremism -- particularly Muslim religious extremism -- that is spreading across our culture. A book called The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Danish-born Jytte Klausen, who is a professor of politics at Brandeis University, tells the story of the lurid and preplanned campaign of "protest" and boycott that was orchestrated in late 2005 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a competition for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed....

Yale University Press announced last week that it would go ahead with the publication of [The Cartoons That Shook the World, a book about the Mohammed cartoon controversy], but it would remove from it the 12 caricatures that originated the controversy. Not content with this, it is also removing other historic illustrations of the likeness of the Prophet, including one by Gustave Doré of the passage in Dante's Inferno that shows Mohammed being disemboweled in hell. (These same Dantean stanzas have also been depicted by William Blake, Sandro Botticelli, Salvador Dalí, and Auguste Rodin, so there's a lot of artistic censorship in our future if this sort of thing is allowed to set a precedent.) ...

Islamic art contains many examples... of paintings of the Prophet, and even though the Dante example is really quite an upsetting one, exemplifying a sort of Christian sadism and sectarianism, there has never been any Muslim protest about its pictorial representation in Western art.

If that ever changes, which one can easily imagine it doing, then Yale has already made the argument that gallery directors may use to justify taking down the pictures and locking them away. According to Yale logic, violence could result from the showing of the images -- and not only that, but it would be those who displayed the images who were directly responsible for that violence.

Let me illustrate: The Aug. 13 New York Times carried a report of the university press' surrender, which quoted its director, John Donatich, as saying that in general he has "never blinked" in the face of controversy, but "when it came between that and blood on my hands, there was no question." ...

It was bad enough during the original controversy, when most of the news media -- and in the age of "the image" at that -- refused to show the cartoons out of simple fear. But now the rot has gone a serious degree further into the fabric. Now we have to say that the mayhem we fear is also our fault, if not indeed our direct responsibility. This is the worst sort of masochism, and it involves inverting the honest meaning of our language as well as what might hitherto have been thought of as our concept of moral responsibility. Last time this happened, I linked to the Danish cartoons so that you could make up your own minds about them, and I do the same today. Nothing happened last time, but who's to say what homicidal theocrat might decide to take offense now. I deny absolutely that I will have instigated him to do so, and I state in advance that he is directly and solely responsible for any blood that is on any hands. He becomes the responsibility of our police and security agencies, who operate in defense of a Constitution that we would not possess if we had not been willing to spill blood -- our own and that of others -- to attain it. The First Amendment to that Constitution prohibits any prior restraint on the freedom of the press. What a cause of shame that the campus of Nathan Hale should have pre-emptively run up the white flag and then cringingly taken the blood guilt of potential assassins and tyrants upon itself.

As I mentioned before, I have some sympathy for entities that refuse to distribute the cartoons. I would not fault them too much for that judgment, though "[i]t seems to me that leading bookstores [in that instance, Borders and Waldenbooks], like leading universities, need to take some risks -- and, yes, even risks that involve potential risks to customers and employees -- in order to protect the marketplace of ideas that sustains them."

Yet framing it as a matter of trying to avoid having "blood on [their] hands" is, for the reasons Hitchens gives, deeply wrong, and dangerous, because it lends Yale's credibility to the theory that we have a moral imperative to shut up, not just that this is one tolerable option. The next time someone does decide to publish the cartoons, and thugs decide to react by rioting, the publisher can be told, "Even Yale University Press agrees that what you did leaves you with blood on your hands."

Is that the message that our leading academic institutions should be sending? Not just that it's so easy to force Americans into silence, but that the threat of criminal violence is enough to make us morally obligated to be silent?

wva (mail):
Christopher Hitchens' column is worthy of every reader of this blog's attention. At the end of the day, there is just one word that most suitably describes the censorship acts of the director of the Yale Press (an academic press, no less). The word? This one:
Craven
8.18.2009 3:32pm
rick.felt:
I suppose I would be satisfied if Yale made it clear in the text that it believes that seeing the cartoons would add to the reader's understanding of the issues surrounding them, but that it had removed the cartoons out of fear of violent reprisals. I don't expect Yale to do anything that it fears would put lives at risk, but it should be unambiguous that it deleted these cartoons under duress.
8.18.2009 3:38pm
Gene Hoffman (mail) (www):
We will get more of the behavior we incent...

-Gene
8.18.2009 3:42pm
A Law Dawg:
First came the post-9/11 talk that "if we stifle dissent, [through counter-dissent, not by force] then the terrorists have won."

The true test is now shown: if it is speech the terrorists are willing to threaten harm to stop, then it should be stopped.
8.18.2009 3:54pm
ras (mail):
Thus does Yale "officially" endorse moral posturing over morality.
8.18.2009 3:57pm
PeteP:
Does Yale have a pool ? I ask because there's a case right now in England where a public swimming pool mandated that ALL female swimmers during certain hours ( hours reserved for Muslims ) wear that 'burkini' IE 'islamic full body bathing suit' ( although I can't seem to find it in the Koran ) 'to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities'.

So, when do we get to see 'burkini's' required at Yale's pool ? And how long from there to requiring full hijab of all women on campus regardless of their beliefs 'to avoid offending muslims' ???

Just another case of liberal academia showing it's true 'backbone' IE 'none'. They're real good at yelling and screaming against the USA, when they know the police will be there to PROTECT them, not SILENCE them, but let there be the slightest actual danger or even hint of such, and they run like the scared rabbits they are.
8.18.2009 4:00pm
wfjag:
From the same institution that is supplying attorneys for Jose Padilla. (Dog bites man. News at 11.)
8.18.2009 4:05pm
Crunchy Frog:
Makes me wonder if the Yale endowment has any funding sources that could conceivably be imperiled by YUP publishing the photos...

The lesson, as always: follow the money.
8.18.2009 4:25pm
deenk:
The Director of the Press is just trying attribute their actions to disinterested motives rather than rank cowardice.

Administrative heads often feel the need to peddle such self-serving lies, even when not one single person is going to believe them. Evidently these administrators are rewarded for maintaining these polite fictions; at least they keep doing it again and again.

I have never understood why the truth wouldn't serve these institutions better, especially when the real motives are reasonable or at least pardonable. But then, perhaps I don't have the requisite personality type to fill such a role.
8.18.2009 4:43pm
Ariel:
I wonder if this is going to be the next big area explored by First Amendment jurisprudence. We didn't cover it in our class in school, but I can't help but feel that these issues are going to become increasingly important. Unlike traditional First Amendment speech issues, there's no restraint on speech by the government but by private actors, acting in fear of other private actors who the government is inadequately protecting the first set from. Is there or could there be some sort of constructive censorship, because the government is not providing adequate security? If there isn't, can there be a free press, if the press is afraid of its own shadow on some issues?
8.18.2009 4:53pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
I think Hitchens (and E.V.) are absolutely correct on this.
8.18.2009 5:00pm
Larvell Blanks:
I don't think "fear of violence" is the right answer. That would suggest that Yale would actually like to publish the photos, and refrains only because it doesn't want people to get hurt. This, in turn, would mean that thie powers-that-be at Yale are thinking, "I despise those crazy Muslims who want to suppress free speech, and hate that I am forced to knuckle under to their outrageous demands" -- a thought I would be shocked to find has ever entered their minds. I suspect the truth is more straightforward -- Yale is perfectly happy to buy into the PC agenda. People who want to show the photos are anti-Muslim kooks, and quite likely Republicans, and Yale doesn't want to be associated with those kinds of people or ideas.
8.18.2009 5:23pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
" John Donatich, as saying that in general he has "never blinked" in the face of controversy, "...One has to have ones' eyes open to blink. And so it goes, the pu**ification of academia continues unabated.
8.18.2009 5:43pm
Leo Marvin (mail):

The next time someone does decide to publish the cartoons, and thugs decide to react by rioting, the publisher can be told, "Even Yale University Press agrees that what you did leaves you with blood on your hands."

... the anticipation of which is bound to have its own chilling effect.
8.18.2009 5:50pm
Redman:
On the other hand, every retail book outlet in the US stocked its shelves for 8 years with the worst anti Bush vitriol, and didn't bat an eye.

Class, what is the lesson to be learned from this?
8.18.2009 5:52pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
But thanks a bunch to Larvell Blanks for finding the unhinged spin that almost makes me want to rush to Yale's defense.
8.18.2009 5:57pm
pmorem (mail):
It's all fun and games, and "speaking truth to power"...

...right up until someone who might actually use that power...

... then it's just too dangerous.
8.18.2009 6:02pm
nzdave:
Ariel:
Very interesting point. I'm generally against using the term "censorship" to describe failure to express something out of fear of economic retaliation etc., but I think this is different.

After all, the reason we protect the right to free speech against the state is that the state has something of a monopoly on the legitimate use (or at least initiation) of coercive force. We don't protect a right to free speech against private actors, because they are only allowed to "retaliate" to speech they don't like using non-coercive means. But where a private person or group uses threats of coercive force to suppress speech, is it not then analogous to government?

I would be interested in the views of the contibutors on this.
8.18.2009 6:31pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Time for the noisy power of the marketplace of ideas to go to work.

You Yalies out there?

Any of 'em?

Will the Jyllans-Posten (sp?) give someone limited rights to reproduce the cartoons, if credited, for this specific purpose, and if not commercially exploited?

Are the Dore illustrations public domain?


Could we see some fairly serious leafleting with this stuff, across the ideological spectrum?(ACLU? Libertarians? The folks who contribute to "Jihad-Watch", or whatever their name is?) with an explanation as to why?

At every major U?
8.18.2009 6:36pm
Danny (mail):
The fear of being associated with right-wing cooks and Republicans is not a justification to avoid standing up for free speech. All you have to do is say "I am no Republican or right-winger, I am not doing this out of cultural imperialism but because I advocate free speech against religious tyranny" when you publish it. And you would be in good company.

Unfortunately the US, with its imperialist policies in Iraq and elsewhere, has handicapped itself in this discussion. So standing up for free speech against fundamentalist Islamists will look like more American arrogance and imperialism.. So other more neutral Western countries that will have to assume this responsibility.
8.18.2009 7:05pm
Fub:
Edward Lunny wrote at 8.18.2009 5:43pm:
And so it goes, the pu**ification of academia continues unabated.
I always learn something new here at VC. Until today I had no idea that "putrification" was considered profane or indecent.
8.18.2009 7:45pm
Seamus (mail):

It was bad enough during the original controversy, when most of the news media -- and in the age of "the image" at that -- refused to show the cartoons out of simple fear. But now the rot has gone a serious degree further into the fabric. Now we have to say that the mayhem we fear is also our fault, if not indeed our direct responsibility.



But isn't that, in effect, the holding of the Hawaii Supreme Court in Touchette v. Ganal, which Prof. Volokh discussed earlier this month?
8.18.2009 8:19pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Fub, there are only two blanks there, not the three of "-tri-". Unless you were being sarcastic.

But that reminds of the funny South Park episode, where the Wheel of Fortune light-up board thing spells out:

N_GGERS

and the dialogue goes,

"The category is 'People Who Annoy You':"

"Well, I know it, but I don't think I should say it..."

"N*****s!" (*gasp*)

"Ohhh, naggers. Of course. Naggers."
8.18.2009 8:32pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :
Christopher Hitchens is a great American. And I almost never say that about anybody (at least not in earnest, and I assure you I am in earnest).
8.18.2009 8:48pm
Javert:
A preemptive appeasement. Can the groveling get any lower?
8.18.2009 9:32pm
SuperSkeptic (mail):
It was bad enough during the original controversy, when most of the news media -- and in the age of "the image" at that -- refused to show the cartoons out of simple fear. But now the rot has gone a serious degree further into the fabric. Now we have to say that the mayhem we fear is also our fault, if not indeed our direct responsibility.




But isn't that, in effect, the holding of the Hawaii Supreme Court in Touchette v. Ganal, which Prof. Volokh discussed earlier this month?


Seamus, I also thought first not of Yale's cowardice, but of their overly sensitive awareness, and probably warranted caution, about tort liability for terrorist actions....
8.18.2009 10:13pm
great unknown (mail):
Isn't this just a declaration by the powers-that-be at Yale that a significant portion of the Muslim public are anticipated to be thugs and terrorists?

Why would anybody object to that demonstratively objective statement? [end sarcasm]
8.18.2009 10:17pm
Ricardo (mail):
On the other hand, every retail book outlet in the US stocked its shelves for 8 years with the worst anti Bush vitriol, and didn't bat an eye.

Yes, and it's been damn near impossible to find any book by Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ramesh Ponnuru or Jonah Goldberg at any major bookstore. If you go to the Borders in downtown San Francisco, look for the employee with the dark-rim glasses and goatee and use the password "swordfish" -- he'll take you to the backroom where all the thoughtcrime books are.

Class, what is the lesson to be learned from this?

Some commenters on VC don't get out very much?
8.18.2009 10:37pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
I'm astounded at the number of people who are taking this "blood on my hands" nonsense at face value. Academics have been winking, throwing up their hands and "giving in" to threats of violence from political radicals with whom they sympathize since at least the 1960s. Oddly enough, threats of violence from people with whom they don't sympathize--and mere non-conformist statements can count as "verbal violence", in the mouths of such people--are never appeased and coddled. They're punished, and used as an excuse to further coddle the more politically favored.

How often do academic administrators crack down hard on violence or threats of violence when their political sympathies lie with the perpetrators, and against the victims? How often do they fail to stand firmly in solidarity with the victims of threats--real or imagined--of violence, when their political sympathies lie with the (real or imagined) victims? Is the director of Yale University Press likely to sympathize more with radical Islamic clerics decrying insensitivity to Muslims, or with Danish cartoonists warning of the radical Muslim threat to Western freedoms? Do the math, folks...
8.18.2009 11:52pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Fub:

I always learn something new here at VC. Until today I had no idea that "putrification" was considered profane or indecent.


How about "retting?" Same thing, really :-)
8.19.2009 12:31am
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
"On the other hand, every retail book outlet in the US stocked its shelves for 8 years with the worst anti Bush vitriol, and didn't bat an eye. "

. . . and, I'm going to guess that most, other than academic bookstores, (and maybe Powell's and Cody's) stocked shelves with almost nothing from Yale's, or anyone else's, U. Press.
Frankly, HAD Yale published this thing uncut, they might actually get some major bookseller play!

Perhaps the big-box-books stocked not the "worst", but (in their view) the "best" "anti-Bush vitriol" because it sold quickly, perhaps because (unlike the Jyllans-Posten cartoons) some of it was actually pretty damn funny, though some was sophomoric. (I thought it was P.J. O'Rourke, back in his NatLamp days, who'd defined "sophomoric" as meaning "funny, but at my expense") As observed, they also stocked Coulter, who would need to rise to reach "sophomoric".
8.19.2009 5:22am
Banjo1 (mail):
The retreat from Western values began when multiculturalism swamped the academy. Students were taught that no culture or civilization was inherently better than any other. Mayan human sacrifices? A cultural expression we must not judge from our own biased point of view. Sawing off heads with the video camera running -- er, well, perhaps we'd better not go there either -- but for another reason, fear for our own skin. Bullying craven academics and foundation executives is the easiest way to gain "privilege" for whatever crackpot idea that might be out there.
8.19.2009 8:23am
ruralcounsel (mail):
Institutions such as the Yale University Press have only so much goodwill or trust 'capital', and it would appear that they have just squandered a large amount of it. Or maybe they just disclosed that they are bankrupt in that particular currency.

I can't imagine I will view anything they publish in the same light.

Donatich worries about "blood on his hands." Perhaps he should think about how much blood is on the hands of people like Neville Chamberlain.
8.19.2009 8:33am
Fedya (www):
Fub wrote:
I always learn something new here at VC. Until today I had no idea that "putrification" was considered profane or indecent.

The sticklers for usage here at the VC would probably insist on the word "putrefaction". Therefore, they'd rightly get upset at a monstrosity like "putrification". ;-)

(And make sure you use "liquefaction", too.)
8.19.2009 8:34am
Jacksonian:
I don't want to speak on behalf of Edward Lunny, but I assumed that the "**" were a substitute for "ss". It made perfectly logical sense to me...
8.19.2009 9:19am
aws3942:
Is that the message that our leading academic institutions should be sending?

Academia stopped leading years ago.
8.19.2009 9:23am
Edward Lunny (mail):
" Until today I had no idea that "putrification" was considered profane or indecent. " It isn't, your vocabulary choice isn't inaccurate. It does not, unfortunately, properly describe the disgust and abject cowardice Yale and John Donatich display in this situation. Your alphabetical choices do bracket mine though. There are times that call for the inclusion of vulgarity to communicate the level of disgust a course of action has engendered. This, I believe, is one such occasion.
8.19.2009 9:30am
alan (mail):

the steady surrender to religious extremism -- particularly Muslim religious extremism --

Could someone point me to an example of the steady surrender to non-muslim relegious extremism?
8.19.2009 10:21am
FredR (mail):
Neither Hitchens or the NYT say anything about the role of radical imams in inciting the rioting. Initially there was little reaction to the cartoons until a group of imams hit the talk show circuit and demanded action. They even added a couple of cartoons (including one showing Muhammed as a pig) that they did themselves to further inflame passions. So I suppose the lesson here is that they can say what they like but you'd better not.
8.19.2009 10:30am
tim maguire (mail):
I don't have sympathy for the refusal to distribute the cartoons on the grounds it will endanger themselves, employees or customers. If they lack the courage to do the job they took upon themselves to do, they should get into another line of work.
8.19.2009 10:35am
Fub:
einhverfr wrote at 8.19.2009 12:31am:
How about "retting?" Same thing, really :-)
A bit archaic, at least I haven't heard it in a long time, but true.

Edward Lunny wrote at 8.19.2009 9:30am:
... It isn't, your vocabulary choice isn't inaccurate. It does not, unfortunately, properly describe the disgust and abject cowardice Yale and John Donatich display in this situation. Your alphabetical choices do bracket mine though. ...
Hmmm.

...nopqRSTwxyz

On the "disgust" theory, moving the bracketing out one notch, the (non)word "puqwification" has a nice Elmer Fudd ring to it.
8.19.2009 10:44am
Brian G (mail) (www):
I remember the good old days when the First Amendment was such an American concept.
8.19.2009 11:23am
Edward Lunny (mail):
Fub wrote " has a nice Elmer Fudd ring to it." I think that Elmer would ,rightly ,find that rather insulting. In so far as Elmer has more backbone and considerably larger cojones than Yale or John Donatich, collectively.
8.19.2009 12:56pm
Locomotive Breath:
And the obvious response is for devout Christians (of who I am not one) to riot next time the government funds a crucifix in a bottle of piss.
8.19.2009 1:03pm
willis (mail):
I can't blame Yale for being afraid. Some of us are much more timid than others. However, given their level of fear, they should just stay out of the game altogether. Don't pretend that the knocking sound you hear is not really their knees, but the wind rattling in the branches.
8.19.2009 1:18pm
Widmerpool:
Speaking as a past chancellor of a modern fictional redbrick university, I fully support Yale's decision and also abhor having "blood on my hands" unless it's to settle personal scores with such layabouts as that impudent Peter Templer. Perhaps these Muslims could be shipped off to Singapore?
8.19.2009 2:16pm
Losantiville:
potential risks to customers and employees

Arm the employees. Much reduced risk. Harden the targets. Require Yale students to carry arms in defense of the University.
8.19.2009 2:58pm
BABH:

Could someone point me to an example of the steady surrender to non-muslim relegious [sic] extremism?



How about this? Threats didn't work, bombings and vandalism didn't work, but murdering a doctor finally did the trick.
8.19.2009 4:24pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
" Threats didn't work, bombings and vandalism didn't work, but murdering a doctor finally did the trick. "...Um , and the trick would be what, exactly ? While Dr.Tiller's clininc did close, abortion is still widely available and is not against the law, indeed they continue apace at about 900,000 per annum, give or take a few. Comparing an admitted few, a hand full if you will,of atrocities against the daily incidents of bloodshed and massacre perpetrated by the followers of islam is rather thin, at best. And it certainly hasn't led to any surrender to the non-muslim extremeism, no academics cowed, no politicians silenced. In fact, regarding politicians, it could be argued that the opposite is true. Those whom oppose abortion, a womans right to choose, are routinely shouted down in the public arena and political arena. They are routinely attacked as mysogenists. The killer of Dr.Tiller is in custody, will be tried, and punished if convicted. As well Eric Rudolph was apprehended, convicted, and is now serving his sentence as are others. I'm not aware of any non-muslim extremeists over running a country a la Iran, nor have there been any incidents approaching the carnage of 09/11/2001. You might care to build a more substantial foundation than this.
8.19.2009 5:34pm
BABH:
Don't move the goalposts. The question was whether there is any danger to be feared from non-muslim religious extremism. There is.

There is a national religious movement in the United States dedicated, among other things, to abrogating a woman's right to self-defense. A stated goal is to force women to risk death rather than abort a foetus. A mainstream political party has allowed these religious extremists to gain enough power and influence to try to pass such legislation in several states.

The murder of Dr. Tiller is not unrelated to the demagoguery of this religious movement's leaders, and the quiet surrender of a once great political party to their demands.
8.19.2009 6:32pm
Disintelligentsia (mail):
Fub wrote:

Edward Lunny wrote at 8.18.2009 5:43pm:

And so it goes, the pu**ification of academia continues unabated.

I always learn something new here at VC. Until today I had no idea that "putrification" was considered profane or indecent.



I don't think he necessarily meant "putrification". That's an option for his intended word (or words), but I think he meant "pussification." But both work in this context. Perhaps he meant the stars are like those used in a search engine - he means any and all words that use the designated letters and the stars can be replaced with any letters to create words (made-up or otherwise) that fit the intended meaning. Let's start:

pussification - Yale has lost its balls.
putrification - Yale is a decaying corpse that smells.
punkification - Yale's board are a bunch of worthless brats.
puntification - Given the opportunity to score one for free speech, Yale punts.
pubeification - Yale's academia really want to be but are not yet adults.
puddification - Yale's academia are becoming pudding-headed.

Naturally, the stars are meant to express a wide-range of contempt towards Yale's decision.
8.19.2009 7:34pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
" Don't move the goalposts. "...I haven't, but, you appear to be.
" to abrogating a woman's right to self-defense. "...really ? You can provide a cite or evidence of any mainstream christian organization that advocates that women ,and women only, should be denied their right to defend themselves ?
" A stated goal is to force women to risk death rather than abort a foetus. " Force women to face death ? This statement is the definition of hysterical. Again a cite ? Evidence ? Your assertion is not evidence.

I'll risk supposing that you are referring to those whom are anti-abortion. You would equate those whom are so with islamic extremists whom treat women as so much chattel, whom routinely murder women to avenge the "honor" of the family, routinely murder female victims of rape, and actively subjegate women to suit the purpose of the patriarchal side of a family? Not to mention the treatment of appostates and infidels. This is what you believe to be ? If so, I would suggest that ,madam, you are batshit crazy.

The murder of Dr.Tiller and the actions of Rudolf et al, while despicable, do not reflect the majority. They do not reflect common occurance. And were/are news exactly because they were/are so out of the ordinary.

" Don't move the goalposts. "...again, project much ?
8.19.2009 9:48pm

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