Yale University: Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons at Yale University Press

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Yale University

Yale University censored images of Mohammed in author Jytte Klausen’s book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, which discusses the controversy and violence that resulted from the publication of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005. The book, published by the Yale University Press in fall 2009, was to contain images of the cartoons and other images of Mohammed. However, Yale University intervened in the editorial process of its Press, submitted the cartoons out of context to a group of anonymous consultants and, relying on their opinions, decided to remove the cartoons from the book. Despite much criticism of the university’s decision to override academic freedom and avoid controversy, Klausen’s book was published without any of the images.

  • Standing Up to Threats

    December 1, 2009

    Academics’ commitment to free expression shouldn’t be put on hold because of the threat of violence, according to a joint statement issued Monday by a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups. “The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it,” says the statement. “It is time for colleges and universities in particular to exercise moral and intellectual leadership. It is incumbent on those responsible for the education of the next generation of leaders to stand up for certain basic principles: that the free exchange of ideas is essential to liberal democracy; that […]

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  • Academic and free-speech groups join criticism of Yale U. Press over cartoons in book

    September 16, 2009

    Criticism continues to rain down on Yale University and Yale University Press for their decision to remove all images of the Prophet Muhammad from a forthcoming scholarly book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen. Now the National Coalition Against Censorship and a group of academic and free-speech organizations have sent a letter of protest to Yale’s president, Richard C. Levin, and the Yale Corporation. “This misguided action established a dangerous precedent that threatens academic and intellectual freedom around the world,” the coalition wrote. It said that the university’s action “compromises the principle and practice of academic freedom, […]

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  • Is Nothing Sacred? Comedy Central Joins Many Universities in Caving to Threats of Violence for Depictions of Mohammed

    April 23, 2010

    Comedy Central’s cartoon hit South Park is famous for its shocking and offensive humor, targeted at subjects ranging from Queen Elizabeth to Scientology. The show’s renowned satire takes an unapologetic attitude towards goring sacred cows, and fans have come to regard South Park‘s principled stance on free speech as sacred in and of itself. This week, however, Comedy Central created headlines around the world by censoring a portion of a South Park episode. The episode continued last week’s plotline depicting Mohammed in a bear suit, which is considered blasphemous by some followers of Islam. Comedy Central’s usually laissez-faire approach to […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: FIRE Releases Statement on Mohammed Cartoons

    March 1, 2010

    Four years ago last month, the global controversy over cartoons depicting Mohammed hit American college campuses. In response, FIRE issued a statement reminding colleges and universities that free speech needs protection even when it is difficult. FIRE’s statement emphasized that the First Amendment protects the printing and posting of the infamous cartoons. In the months after the cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper, students, professors, and student publications not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but also created their own satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. Though many colleges acknowledged the importance of free expression, others turned to censorship in an […]

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  • Yale President Defends Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons, But Acknowledges Free Speech Commitment in T-shirt Controversy

    January 15, 2010

    In a letter to FIRE, Yale University President Richard C. Levin maintained Yale’s position defending the censorship of images of Mohammed in a book about those images, citing a “risk to life and safety.” However, President Levin also reaffirmed Yale’s commitment to the strong protection of free speech in its classic Woodward Report, stating that “it is not the role of the Dean or any other University official to suppress the speech of any student or student organization” and expressing “regret” for Dean Mary Miller’s role in the withdrawal of the Freshman Class Council’s T-shirt design calling Harvard students “sissies.” […]

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  • Letter from Yale University President Richard C. Levin to FIRE, January 14, 2010

    January 14, 2010

    Letter From Yale University President Richard C. Levin to FIRE, January 14, 2010 by FIRE

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  • In Interview With ‘Index on Censorship,’ Jytte Klausen Discusses Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons

    December 22, 2009

    Jytte Klausen, author of the recently published book The Cartoons That Shook the World and the subject of much controversy since the Yale University Press unilaterally decided to excise inclusion of the controversial cartoons of Mohammed central to the book’s premise, discusses the incident in the current magazine published by Index on Censorship, a British organization promoting freedom of expression. In her engaging interview, Klausen discusses the academic background of her work and research into the subject, as well as the process by which the Yale University Press, after initially approving the publication of the book with the cartoons included, eventually […]

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  • Greg in ‘The Huffington Post’ on Yale and the Muhammad Cartoons

    November 10, 2009

    Greg posted a blog entry on The Huffington Post yesterday highlighting a statement that has been included in Duke Professor Gary Hull’s new book, Muhammad: The “Banned Images”. The statement, backed by a broad coalition, criticizes Yale University’s decision to censor the Muhammad cartoons. It concludes: The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it. It is time for colleges and universities in particular to exercise moral and intellectual leadership. It is incumbent on those responsible for the education of the next generation of leaders to stand up for certain basic principles: that […]

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  • Duke beats Yale: Censored images of Muhammad finally printed in new book

    November 9, 2009

    Today my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), is proud to join a broad coalition criticizing Yale University’s decision to censor the Muhammad cartoons from a book about the cartoons. The statement is included in Duke University Professor Gary Hull’s new book Muhammad: The “Banned Images”–which prints the censored images and many more. Read the full text of the statement below. Statement of Principle Free Expression at Risk, at Yale and Elsewhere A number of recent incidents suggest that our long-standing commitment to the free exchange of ideas is in peril of falling victim to a spreading […]

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  • Duke Professor Finishes Yale’s Job, Prints Mohammed Images in New Book; FIRE Co-signs Statement of Principle

    November 9, 2009

    Duke University Professor Gary Hull has just published Muhammad: The “Banned” Images, which dares to publish images that Yale University and Yale University Press censored from Jytte Klausen’s The Cartoons that Shook the World earlier this year. Hull calls the book “a statement of defiance against censors, terror-mongers, and their Western appeasers.” FIRE joined with the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Association of University Professors, and nine other signatories on a Statement of Principle stating that “The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it.” Here is the Statement of Principle, which points out that Yale’s […]

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  • Yale Law Professor Misses the Point on Censorship of Political Cartoons

    October 16, 2009

    In an op-ed in the Yale Daily News, Yale University Law Professor Anthony Kronman attempts to defend Yale’s decision to censor the Mohammed cartoons. Kronman makes a number of points in an effort to show that the decision to remove the cartoons from author and Brandeis University Professor Jytte Klausen’s book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, published by Yale University Press this fall, should not bring condemnation upon Yale University. However, all of Kronman’s arguments miss the mark. For starters, Kronman argues that Yale University is a distinct institution from its Press, and that the decisions of the latter, […]

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  • Jytte Klausen, Author of ‘The Cartoons That Shook the World,’ Speaks at Yale and Confronts One of Her Censors

    October 2, 2009

    The New Haven Independent reports that Jytte Klausen, whose book The Cartoons That Shook the World was censored by the Yale University Press, spoke at Yale yesterday evening, leading to a worthwhile exchange with one of the individuals responsible for the act of censorship. Klausen, a Brandeis University professor, is having her book published by the Yale University Press this fall. The book discusses the international fury and violence that took place four years ago after a Danish newspaper published cartoon depictions of the Islamic prophet Mohammed. However, Yale University, in a move demonstrating little regard for academic freedom, decided […]

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  • FIRE’s Will Creeley in ‘Providence Journal’

    September 23, 2009

    Today’s edition of the Providence (R.I.) Journal contains an op-ed by FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley criticizing Yale University over the most recent Mohammed cartoon controversy. The Yale University Press decided to remove cartoons depicting Mohammed from author and professor Jytte Klausen’s forthcoming book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, which discusses the outcry and fallout resulting from the publication of 12 editorial cartoons depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005. This prompted FIRE to join a dynamic coalition of civil liberties organizations in writing an open letter to Yale University President Richard C. Levin and […]

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  • William Creeley: Yale’s cowardice erodes free speech

    September 23, 2009

    By choosing to remove all depictions of the Prophet Mohammed from Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen’s book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, to be published by Yale University Press in early October, Yale University has betrayed academic freedom. Worse, Yale has surrendered without protest to nonexistent demands it merely imagines from those willing to kill to silence views with which they disagree. So much for the pen being mightier than the sword. Four years ago, in September of 2005, the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten ran a set of 12 editorial cartoon caricatures of Mohammed. In an accompanying note, the paper’s culture […]

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  • Letter to Yale University Opposing Removal of Mohammed Images from Book

    September 14, 2009

    Richard C. Levin President, Yale University PO BOX 208229 New Haven, CT  06520-8229 The Yale Corporation c/o The Office of the Secretary P.O. Box 208230 New Haven, CT 06520-8230 Dear President Levin and Members of the Yale Corporation, We write to protest the decision to remove all images of Mohammed from the forthcoming book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen, which will be published by Yale University Press in early October.  The University’s role in that decision compromises the principle and practice of academic freedom, undermines the independence of the Press, damages the University’s credibility, and diminishes […]

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  • In ‘Pajamas Media,’ FIRE’s VP Slams Yale Press Censorship of Mohammed Cartoons

    August 14, 2009

    There appears to be a new exemplar of the cowardice and censorship that characterized the academy’s response to the furor over the publication of twelve cartoons by a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohammed. As The New York Times was first to report on Tuesday, Yale University Press decided not to print the once-incendiary cartoons in Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen’s upcoming book The Cartoons That Shook the World, a scholarly exploration of—no rewards for guessing—the controversy stemming from the publication of the cartoons. Yale’s press has been roundly slammed for its temerity, and rightly so. Foxnews.com was quick to pick […]

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