Freedom of Speech Is of No Use Unless We Exercise It

Religious liberty and freedom of speech are inextricably connected.


Editors and producers across the Western world will now be asking themselves: “Can I print this?” They are asking the wrong question. It is a fallacy to think “that could be us.” The readers of the world rely on them to say collectively: “Yes, we can.”

In 2009, Yale University Press censored a book I had written about the worldwide protests against the Danish Mohammed cartoons. The book contains a discussion of traditions for depicting Mohammed in Islamic and Western art. Citing fear of unknown terrorists, the press redacted all illustrations from the book featuring Mohammed: Ottoman prints, the Danish cartoons, and a 19th-century engraving made by Gustave Dore, a French artist, who mass produced such art for middle-class homes in the United Kingdom. The danger was imagined. There were no known threats against the press or against myself, at the time, and there never have been any.

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