Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Yale surrenders

Christopher Hitchens writes on the latest pathetic post script to the Danish Mohammed Cartoons malarkey:
A book called The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Danish-born Jytte Klausen, who is a professor of politics at Brandeis University, tells the story of the lurid and preplanned campaign of "protest" and boycott that was orchestrated in late 2005 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a competition for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. (The competition was itself a response to the sudden refusal of a Danish publisher to release a book for children about the life of Mohammed, lest it, too, give offense.) By the time the hysteria had been called off by those who incited it, perhaps as many as 200 people around the world had been pointlessly killed.

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.)
More at Slate.

There are a couple of inaccuracies in that opening paragraph. The JP feature wasn’t a competition, if I remember rightly, but an invitation to established cartoonists from several Danish papers to respond to the story of a Danish author’s difficulty in finding an artist willing to risk the commission to illustrate a book on the life of Mohammed. Not all the cartoonists responded with images of the prophet. See this page at Zombietime to view the cartoons as well as images from the eventual book, illustrated anonymously.

Earlier related posts on Danish blaspheming cartoonists here and here, and on even ruder Dutch cartooning here and here.

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