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Yale Makes (Predictable) Choice Between Open Discourse and Political Correctness

12:05 PM, Aug 19, 2009 • By THOMAS D. JOHNSON
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Contentions has two excellent blog posts, the first by Noah Pollak and the second by Ted R. Bromund, about the recent decision by Yale University to censor an upcoming book it is releasing about the 2005 Danish Muhammad cartoon controversy, The Cartoons That Shook the World, by removing from it the relevant cartoons themselves and several other depictions of Muhammad. The reasoning behind their deletion, as cited by Martin Kramer, is that they would "provoke a violent outcry" if published in the book, a claim Contentions (and Christopher Hitchens) rightly slams as ridiculous and as one that absolves the perpetrators of such violence of any culpability for their actions:

"[N]ote who is not held responsible: the potential rioters, who are apparently automatons and spring uncontrollably and unstoppably into action whenever a Westerner dares to offend them. Thus, as part of our relentless quest for a quiet life, the press must avoid causing offense to anyone. If that is not appeasement, I don't know what is."

Also, as Roger Kimball notes, this establishes a dangerous standard by which other depictions of Muhammad may be censored:

"What happens when some enterprising young curator puts together an exhibition of the work of Gustave Doré? Will he be told that he cannot include that work depicting Mohammed in Hell? What happens when someone wants to do a catalogue raisonné of the work of Salvador Dalí? Will his image of Mohammed be omitted? Ditto on William Blake, Botticelli, and Giovanni da Modena, all of whom illustrated that passage from Dante. The Koran forbids any depiction of Mohammed, so what about that bas relief at the U.S. Supreme Court by Adolph Weinman depicting Mohammed holding a sword?"

Even if these fears never materialize, this is another disappointing moment for the rapidly diminishing ideal of open discourse on college campuses.