The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Drp, Drip, Drip — II

A while back, I wrote a piece entitled Drip, Drip, Drip arguing that across the Western world, our basic freedoms are slowing being eroded by Islamic protestations of outrage over insults to their religion—either actual or imagined. In every media industry—publishing, television, the press, and motion pictures— self-censorship causes the legitimate efforts of authors, writers, and directors to be modified (or simply extinguished) to meet the demands of others. In government, business, education, and many other public domains, we are slowly bending to the unreasonable demands of one group, afraid of the false accusation of “Islamophobia.” Jihadist front groups, like CAIR, are succeeding in destroying our basic freedoms where their more violent bretheren have failed.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, another "drip, drip, drip" moment is reported:
Starting in 2002, Spokane, Wash., journalist Sherry Jones toiled weekends on a racy historical novel about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Ms. Jones learned Arabic, studied scholarly works about Aisha's life, and came to admire her protagonist as a woman of courage. When Random House bought her novel last year in a $100,000, two-book deal, she was ecstatic. This past spring, she began plans for an eight-city book tour after the Aug. 12 publication date of "The Jewel of Medina" -- a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet's harem.

It's not going to happen: In May, Random House abruptly called off publication of the book. The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.

Random House feared the book would become a new "Satanic Verses," the Salman Rushdie novel of 1988 that led to death threats, riots and the murder of the book's Japanese translator, among other horrors. In an interview about Ms. Jones's novel, Thomas Perry, deputy publisher at Random House Publishing Group, said that it "disturbs us that we feel we cannot publish it right now." He said that after sending out advance copies of the novel, the company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

So much for freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

Can you imagine the outrage in liberal media circles if the Christian Right had demanded that an edgy novel about Jesus not be published? Or if an Orthodox Jewish group demanded that a major newspaper, say The New York Times, spike an article that was unflattering to an eminent rabbi in their movement? But of course, those groups rarely if ever threaten violence, so the media elites can look tough. But the minute Islamists get huffy, Random House and dozens of others run for the exits. Pathetic.

By the way, with the exception of the WSJ, there’s been little, if any coverage of this story.

Drip, drip, drip.