Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm totally rooting for Harvard this year in the Yale-Harvard football game

Here's why.

It seems the venerable Yale University Press has made an editorial decision to censor the Danish cartoon depictions of Mohamed that caused the big brouhaha in 2006 in a forthcoming book. Bad, yes. What's worse? The book, by Jytte Klausen, is about those same cartoons. The book is entitled The Cartoons that Shook the World. Except you don't actually get to see the cartoons-- taking it a step further, not only did Yale UP ban the inflammatory cartoons from 2006, but all depictions of Mohamed in the entire book. I hadn't realized that sharia law was in effect in New Haven.

Fear was the only reason, it seems. A Yale UP official is quoted in the linked article saying that "when it came between that [printing the cartoons] and blood on my hands, there was no question”. Thus, one of the world's great academic presses has been bullied by a bunch of unabashed idiots who hurt people and destroy things over mean-spirited drawings of their magical being. Giving into fears of extremist reprisal makes for really bad policy. Remember, say, most of this decade? Still, the argument went as such: the cartoons are available on the 'Tubes and can be described in words, thus including them would be an unnecessary affront (or, "gratuitous"). This seems fairly shallow to me; after all, the author of the book, an expert on the controversy, wanted them included. Putting them on the cover might have been gratuitous; omitting them completely is cowardice of the worst kind. I would wager that one would be hard pressed to find a single academic book about political cartoons that didn't reprint cartoons.

Go Harvard*! Boo Yale!

* pending my becoming aware of some objectionable act of cowardice and supplication of stupid people on the part of Harvard