They Judged the Cartoons, but Did Not Read the Book

This morning NPR ran a story on Yale University’s decision to force the Yale University Press to remove all depictions of the prophet Muhammed, including several controversial Danish cartoons, from Jytte Klausen’s book The Cartoons that Shook the World.  As had already been reported, the University’s decision was based, in part, on various outside experts on national security, terrorism, and Islam who beleived republication of the cartoons could spark further violence.  What I had not previously known, but NPR reported today, is that the experts consulted by Yale University were not asked to read the book, only to comment on the cartoons.

just a few weeks before publication, Yale University, which owns the Yale Press, mounted a second review. The university asked some 20 scholars, counterterrorism officials and national security experts to asses the risk of more violence if copies of the cartoons were included in the book.”It was fairly overwhelming that the people who knew the most about this kind of situation said ‘Don’t do it,’ that this was likely to provoke violence,” Yale Press director John Donatich said. . . .

The university told Yale Press to eliminate the cartoons from the book, along with all other images of Muhammad. And Klausen was told she’d have to sign a nondisclosure agreement if she wanted to read the experts’ comments. She declined to do so. But she says she was even more dismayed to learn that the panel had not read her book.

“My first reaction was that it was stunningly similar to what happened during the conflict itself,” said Klausen. “I disagreed with the experts’ advice. I felt that had the experts read my book, they would not have given the advice they produced.”

So we are clear: A prominent University censored content from a book based on the opinions of experts who had not read the book in question.