Censorship at Index on Censorship

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.

<b>Censored by Index on Censorship</b>: The Motoons they were scared to print

Censored by Index on Censorship: The Motoons they were scared to print

9 Responses to “Censorship at Index on Censorship”

  1. Shatterface says:

    Malik, as usual, has responded with consistancy and integrity. I’m shocked by the rest.

    ‘Internalising the Fatwah’ is spot-on.

  2. Sherry Jones says:

    Kudos to you for publishing the offending cartoons! I should have listed you as a “hero,” too on my blog post lamenting the dwindling number of them. If you’re interested, you can find it at http://authorsherryjones.com/blogs/

    Sherry Jones
    author, “The Jewel of Medina” and “The Sword of Medina”

  3. Kenan Malik is the best. So is Monitor. Index on Censorship is pathetic.

  4. Stuart says:

    Disgusting, cowardly and pathetic…

  5. Derek Pasquill says:

    The credibility of the IoC is badly damaged. The Board, with the exception of Kenan Malik of course, should resign now.

  6. Stonyground says:

    There are those of us who wish to see a separation between religion and politics and thus a level playing field between all citizens, completely disregarding what religion, if any, they hold. We now know how to acheive our aims. Simply kill people at random and threaten to continue to do so until all powers, secular and sacred capitulate before us. Judging by their recent, craven behaviour this shouldn’t take very long.

    Count me out though, I’m afraid that killing people at random is completely out of order as far as my infidel belief system is concerned. So I will just have to rely upon other secularists who think that killing people at random is ok, I’m sure that there must be lots of them out there.

  7. Shaun Hollingworth says:

    It would have been better for them not to cover this story AT ALL rather than their censoring the cartoons. Doing that at least, would not have damaged their reputation as we probably would not have known about it in the first place.

    However their position as an anti-censorship mag has now become untenable in my opinion. Indeed personally I didn’t rate it before, and stopped subscribing years ago. As a force against state and religious censorship, I thought it was completely and utterely ineffective.

    Sites like this one, and the Melon Farmers seem to me, to have more influence than IOC and its witterings.

  8. Angela_K says:

    I seem to remember that it was Winston Churchill who said something about feeding a crocodile in the hope that it wouldn’t eat him too.

    Appeasement never works.

  9. Stuart H. says:

    Sorry, but this is hardly suprising. IOC have a pretty poor record anyway when it comes to covering the ‘censorship’ of any views other than those expressed by upmarket intellectuals.
    I know of a number of cases that have been reported to them concerning, say, work from the comic book and avant-pulp fiction boom after punk, writings by prisoners, pieces appearing in small independent mags in the 1980’s and 1990’s – not a jot of interest, not even the courtesy of a reply to the informants.
    I’d go further than Shaun. It’s not just the lack of backbone when it comes to state or religious censorship, it’s the total inability to recognise that anyone outside of an Oxbridge mutual backslapping society writes, or has a worthwhile opinion on anything, when, if anything, the opposite might be the case.