We are used to getting our irony meters broken by religious types, but it comes as a shock when an organisation we might reasonably assume to be on our side blows one to smithereens.
Index on Censorship today carries an interview with Jytte Klausen, the author of The Cartoons That Shook The World. The theme of the interview is Yale’s cowardly act of pre-emptive self-censorship in deciding to publish the book without the Motoons which were its subject. Guess what? In a cowardly act of pre-emptive self-censorship, Index on Censorship decided to publish the interview without the Motoons which were its subject.
OK, have you picked the shrapnel out of your skin?
The decision, accepted by editor Jo Glanville, was made by the board, chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby:
To summarise our common view: re-publication of the cartoons would put at risk the security of our staff and others which, on balance, could not be justified on “freedom of expression” grounds alone.[...]
[...] We have a greater vision and purpose, which is to reach out to those in the United Kingdom and elsewhere who are not yet aware of how vital freedom of expression is to an open society and how easily and rapidly it can be eroded.
Index on Censorship are apparently showing how easily and rapidly freedom of expression can be eroded by example. Are they sure that is really the best way to go about it?
One notable dissenter on the board is Kenan Malik, who is understandably furious at the decision. He makes clear that IoC’s position is untenable:
The question that now arises is this: what should Index do when the next Jewel of Medina comes along? After all, we cannot in good conscience criticise others for taking decisions that we ourselves have taken and for the same reasons. So, does Index now believe that it was right for Deutsche Oper, Random House, Yale University Press (and myriad others) to censor?
The board of IoC are lame ducks, and every one of them except Malik ought to have the grace stand down. Their stupid, craven decision only serves to make a bad situation worse.
Censored by Index on Censorship: The Motoons they were scared to print