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Yale to be chastised by 16 organizations

The Yale Daily News is reporting that 16 organizations, including American Civil Liberties Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the International Publishers Association, will chastise Yale University of “failing to stand up for free speech” in a statement released today. At issue is concern that Yale University Press capitulated to threats of violence creating an atmosphere of fear to speak and publish freely.

From the Daily News:

“The situation is extremely disturbing because Yale is a very prominent university, and their doing something like this might justify other institutions doing so,” National Coalition against Censorship Executive Director Joan Bertin said. “This action compromised the book, the press and an important principle: not only should academics be able to discuss these things among themselves, but in this country we’re entitled to talk about and view the images.”

The statement is the latest development in a controversy that began last August, when the Press announced it would print Brandeis University professor Jytte Klausen’s book, “The Cartoons that Shook the World,” without the cartoons that incited violent riots when they were first published in a Danish newspaper in 2005.

“Yale and Yale University Press are deeply committed to freedom of speech and expression, so the issues raised here were difficult,” the Yale University Press said in a statement in August. “The decision rested solely on the experts’ assessments that there existed a substantial likelihood of violence that might take the lives of innocent victims.”

Community Comments

#1 Alec Fritz
November/30/2009
@ 12:06 pm

Quick solution, don’t publish the book in Danish?…

#2 Ted Rall
November/30/2009
@ 3:17 pm

To anticipate a possible question, the Coalition did not contact the AAEC to request its participation. I’m fairly certain the AAEC Board of Directors would have approved this statement.

Why they didn’t think to ask editorial cartoonists–the group most directly affected–is baffling.

#3 Alan Gardner
November/30/2009
@ 4:49 pm

@tedrall – Perhaps a better question: what is the AAEC doing (or NOT doing) that minimizes its voice in these matters? Why would an individual such as Eugene Volokh – an individual law professor – have more inclusion in this statement than a related professional organization?

My casual observation is that the AAEC isn’t vocalizing and getting out in front of these issues and is hence invisible to those who are.

#4 Mike Gold
November/30/2009
@ 6:57 pm

I wonder who their experts are, and who they define as innocents. They claim to be ducking the possibility of violence, so, by that same logic, I must conclude Yale refuses to publish books that advocate a woman’s right to choose an abortion, anything having anything to do with evolution or Darwin, the national census, and homosexuals’ right to exist. In other words, all they should be publishing is the standard white American bible, as approved by a survey of those attending gun shows.

I assume they didn’t ask the AAEC because there are no longer enough editorial cartoonists working to be taken seriously.

#5 Ted Rall
December/1/2009
@ 7:07 am

@Alan: You are right. Although the AAEC does express itself about matters of public interest, there is clearly more we can and ought to be doing to make ourselves heard over the din.

@Mike: Your assumption about the AAEC doesn’t hold water. There are more editorial cartoonists working now than at any time since the 1970s, and AAEC membership increases annually.

It’s ridiculous to self-censor because someone else might respond to your speech with violence. Violence, should it occur in this situation, is solely the responsibility of the person who uses it. The person who “provokes” violence with speech, no matter how offensive, bears no responsibility whatsoever. All speech, after all, could potentially provoke violence from some lunatic.

#6 Richard Cross
December/1/2009
@ 8:04 am

Looks like Political Correctness is in full bloom at Yale and academia in general, so much so in fact, that they don’t even recognize it. Does anyone really believe we should censor ourselves because some faction of society might be offended enough to react violently? We should all be on our guard for such things in this day and age, but continue to put forth uncensored speech regardless of the potential for violence. If not, we become irrelevant and the “lunatic fringe” will have complete control. What better instrument to root out such radical thinkers than a cartoon that sets them off into a fit of violence. What better way to show how ridiculously out-of-touch people are who resort to violence as a form of expression in reaction to a cartoon. Perhaps people so easily offended should not be indoctrinating young minds with their flawed thinking.

#7 Richard Cross
December/1/2009
@ 8:04 am

Looks like Political Correctness is in full bloom at Yale and academia in general, so much so in fact, that they don’t even recognize it. Does anyone really believe we should censor ourselves because some faction of society might be offended enough to react violently? We should all be on our guard for such things in this day and age, but continue to put forth uncensored speech regardless of the potential for violence. If not, we become irrelevant and the “lunatic fringe” will have complete control. What better instrument to root out such radical thinkers than a cartoon that sets them off into a fit of violence. What better way to show how ridiculously out-of-touch people are who resort to violence as a form of expression in reaction to a cartoon. Perhaps people so easily offended should not be indoctrinating young minds with their flawed thinking.

#8 Mike Gold
December/1/2009
@ 1:25 pm

Ted — Tell that to all the cartoonists who used to have jobs at the dailies. Nonetheless, my comment was offered with the patina of gentle sarcasm.

#9 Kayl Miller
December/1/2009
@ 3:44 pm

Pre-censoring is the meekest, most sickening form of censorship!

#10 Ted Rall
December/1/2009
@ 7:53 pm

There’s a lot more to cartooning than working on staff for a daily newspaper. The majority of cartoonists have been freelancers for decades.

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