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Intellectual cowardice, or pragmatic sensitivity?

September 8, 2009


Well, it seems that Yale University may have a bit of trouble on its hands.  Yale University Press, owned by Yale University, has removed cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an upcoming book.   The publishing arm cited violence and outrage from Muslims worldwide as the reason:

In a statement explaining the decision, Yale University Press said it decided to exclude a Danish newspaper page of the cartoons and other depictions of Muhammad after asking the university for help on the issue. It said the university consulted counter-terrorism officials, diplomats and the top Muslim official at the United Nations.

“The decision rested solely on the experts’ assessment that there existed a substantial likelihood of violence that might take the lives of innocent victims,” the statement said.

Republication of the cartoons has repeatedly resulted in violence around the world, leading to more than 200 deaths and hundreds of injuries, the statement said. It also noted that major newspapers in the United states and Britain have declined to print the cartoons.

While I recognize the need for sensitivity to all faiths and cultures, there does seem to be a capitulation of sorts here.  Universities should not be held hostage to politically correct speech.  They are a haven for freedom of expression, often resulting in uncomfortable dialogue.  That however, is what fuels debate and discourse.  I believe Yale has done itself a disservice today.

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