Index on Censorship contributor Oliver Kamm is appalled by Yale University Press’s censorship of The Cartoons that Shook the World by Jytte Klausen, an account of the Danish Mohammed cartoons controversy. Yale decided to publish the book about the cartoons without, er, actually publishing the cartoons.
Oliver describes Yale’s decision as “craven”, and decries the newfound idea that “respect” for religion is a legitimate reason to curb free speech.
That principle is moderate, balanced and pernicious. The idea that people’s beliefs, merely by being deeply held, merit respect is grotesque. A constitutional society upholds freedom of speech and thought: it has no interest in its citizens’ feelings. If it sought to protect sensibilities, there would be no limit to the abridgements of freedom that the principle would justify.
Well, quite. As HL Mencken once put it: “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”