Sunday, March 09, 2014

An incident at the Yale University Press, 2009

As reported in the New York Times, this is gagging speech at multiple levels.  Did the scholars of religion in the American Academy of Religion call for a boycott of Yale University Press?  Inquiring minds want to know.    Inquiring minds also want to know why American scholars weep for India when they should be weeping for their own country.
So Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, 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.
Aside from the disagreement about the images, Ms. Klausen said she was also disturbed by Yale’s insistence that she could read a 14-page summary of the consultants’ recommendations only if she signed a confidentiality agreement that forbade her from talking about them. “I perceive it to be a gag order,” she said, after declining to sign. While she could understand why some of the individuals consulted might prefer to remain unidentified, she said, she did not see why she should be precluded from talking about their conclusions. 
Ms. Klausen said, “I can understand that a university is risk averse, and they will make that choice” not to publish the cartoons, but Yale University Press, she added, went too far in taking out the other images of Muhammad. 
“This is an academic book for an academic audience by an academic press,” he [Reza Aslan]  continued. “There is no chance of this book having a global audience, let alone causing a global outcry.” He added, “It’s not just academic cowardice, it is just silly and unnecessary.”