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Free Speech Prevails Over Violence

Just a quick update to a  story posted here back in August. At that time, Random House refused to publish a potentially controversial novel about the life Aisha, wife of Muslim figurehead Mohammad. Random House dropped the book due to concerns voiced by an American academic who recommended that the novel not be published because of the potential to offend Muslims and instigate violence.

I wrote at the time:

I just think it’s a sad testament to how culturally spineless we in the West have become, essentially letting thugs with knives, bombs, and AK-47’s dictate what will be published and what will not. It’s espeicially disgusting that a member of the academy would rather prevent a book from being published than to write a critique of it after the novel had come out, especially since said academic would almost certainly never stand for a similar treatment of her own work.

I’m gratified to see that the novel has finally been published in the United States by Beaufort Books. Unfortunately, the British publisher, Gibson Square Books has been the target of arson and as a result may not end up releasing the book in the U.K. after all. Both publishers should both be applauded for ignoring the “advice” of academics more concerned with avoiding offense than with protecting free speech and standing up to violent religious nihilists. In a free society, publishers should never have to be concerned about violent retaliation for publishing “offensive” literature.

For all I know, The Jewel of Medina could be the worst book ever penned, full of slander and lies about Mohammad; it doesn’t matter. As Eric Kampmann, president of Beaufort said, “[I]t was better for everybody… to let the conversation switch from a conversation about terrorists and fearful publishers to a conversation about the merits of the book itself.”

That sounds about right. If The Jewel of Medina is crap, then critics will savage it. If it’s full of lies about Mohammad, then knowledgeable Muslims can educate people about what’s wrong with it. If it turns out to be a modern classic, then people will go buy it. What’s important is that they have the opportunity.

  1. Chris says:

    Agreed and thanks for the update.

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