Yale University Press removes images of Mohammed even before any threats. Disgusting.
Yale University Press announced last week that it would go ahead with the publication of the book, 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.)
The emphasis on the masters is only to shock, and impress the dire need to abhor censorship at all costs. If I should decide to print or even link to images of Mohammed and then someone at WordPress were to die because of it, or even if I were to die, WordPress would be responsible. That kind of logic, as Christopher Hitchens points out, is akin to women asking for rape merely by wearing something revealing.
So here’s another depressing thing: Neither the “experts in the intelligence, national security, law enforcement, and diplomatic fields, as well as leading scholars in Islamic studies and Middle East studies” who were allegedly consulted, nor the spokespeople for the press of one of our leading universities, understand the meaning of the plain and common and useful word instigate. If you instigate something, it means that you wish and intend it to happen. If it’s a riot, then by instigating it, you have yourself fomented it. If it’s a murder, then by instigating it, you have yourself colluded in it. There is no other usage given for the word in any dictionary, with the possible exception of the word provoke, which does have a passive connotation. After all, there are people who argue that women who won’t wear the veil have “provoked” those who rape or disfigure them … and now Yale has adopted that “logic” as its own.
Yale University Press should be ashamed of itself. Completely and utterly. For being cowards, for flogging the first amendment, and for fearing an action from a religion most of them don’t even believe in. Censorship is a regression, an unthinkable step backwards into the dark, and I can’t believe any ivy league press, supposedly the best of the best of what we have to offer, would consider such a pathetic act.