Random House Kills Book for Fear of Radical Muslim Violence

“Have you ever heard a death rattle before? Do you think it would live up to it’s name, or would it just be a death hairball? Do you want to wait, and listen to me describe death?” – Marla, Fight Club

Prof. Reynolds is fond of the rhetorical question as to why one rarely worries about Christian violence in response to criticism of Christianity (and the concomitant observation that if such threats work for one group in suppressing criticism, we can probably expect more groups to apply the tactic). And lately nearly every week brings another example of this distressing phenomenon.

Well, score another victory for barbarism over freedom of thought. We’ve now progressed to the point where even the suggestion of extremist violence is enough to get us to self-censor:

Publisher Random House has pulled a novel about the Prophet Mohammed’s child bride, fearing it could “incite acts of violence.”

[…]

Random House deputy publisher Thomas Perry said in a statement the company received “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.”

“In this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel,” Perry said.

That sound you hear is the death rattle of Western culture.

FILED UNDER: Religion, , ,
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. od says:

    That sound you hear is the death rattle of Western culture.

    It sometimes feels like that. They say civilizations aren’t conquered from outside, but decay from inside. That certainly seems to be the case here.

  2. bains says:

    While your co-blogger Alex will not accept this, the election of his chosen one will promote this.

    The Law of Unintended Consequences.

  3. Diane C. Russell says:

    I wonder what would happen if believers in free speech start making equally dire threats against gutless wonders like those running Random House.

  4. Who needs to burn books when you can prevent them being printed in the first place?

  5. Mithras says:

    That sound you hear is the death rattle of Western culture.

    It’s good to get out of the house and away from the keyboard sometime. Breathe. See a sunset. Get some perspective. If that doesn’t work, they make these great medications now that can help with your symptoms. (I assume Acute Melodrama is a disease.)

  6. Dodd says:

    I think it self-evident that a culture too craven to stand up for its most cherished values in the face of barbarism is likely doomed.

    And, yes, that too is self-aware hyperbole.

  7. mannning says:

    Why this is bowing to just one of our grand multicultural society segments, and they are only about 6 million strong today. We already have 12 million illegal Hispanics, so let us block the publication of any anti-illegals books too. There are absolute madman that want us to open our borders completely, and make them all citizens. The fall of the Roman Empire can be traced to that time when to be accorded Roman citizenship was devalued to nothing.

  8. Floyd says:

    Freedom of thought does not mean that society at large should hear every random mental flatulence.
    Perhaps a little respectful “self censorship” would be a welcome addition to a more polite society?[not a comment on the book in question]
    “The death rattle of Western culture” is much more the suicidal result of nihilism, than some external coercion.
    The important question should not be “what should be censored?”, but “what has enough merit to be said”. It has always taken the courage of conviction to speak up in the ever-present face of inevitable consequences.
    Sherri Jones is not being censored here, any more than the thousands whose transcripts are turned down every year for lack of merit [saleability]
    Random house saw this opportunity long before “press time” and they are certainly NOT driven by some altruistic notion of principle.[lol]

  9. Alex Knapp says:

    bains,

    When it comes to duking it out with Muslim extremists, I’ll take my chances with the candidate who knows the difference between various Muslim sects. (Hint: That’s not John McCain)

  10. Dodd says:

    Sherri Jones is not being censored here, any more than the thousands whose transcripts are turned down every year for lack of merit [saleability]

    No, not in the strictest sense of the word — a government agency preventing one’s words from being published. Obviously that isn’t the point, which is self-censorship motivated by fear of barabarism. Clearly RH thought Ms. Jones book was saleable or they wouldn’t have decided to publish it and plan an 8 city book tour for her. So none of those other books are relevant, either.

    Random house saw this opportunity long before “press time” and they are certainly NOT driven by some altruistic notion of principle

    I’m afraid I cannot figure out what this is supposed to mean in the context of this thread. Altruism, or the lack thereof, most decidedly has nothing to do with it.

  11. bains says:

    Goodness Alex, what partisan boilerplate! I’m sure that sells well in your choir rehearsals.

  12. bains says:

    Listen Alex, while I will probably end up voting for McCain, I am hardly one of his supporters. There are plenty of areas where you could take him to task, areas with which I would agree.

    Instead, you bring up stupid Dem talking points. People vote for, or against a candidate for many reasons. You want to vote against McCain because he muffed a question about Sunni/Shia Muslims? Fine, you do so. But to use that in your attempt to persuade others… I find that vacuous.

  13. od says:

    Of course, its also possible that its just a big publicity stunt … if they go ahead an publish it a few months from now it’ll have great initial sales.

    BTW, there’s a huge difference between self-censorship because you don’t think the book in question doesn’t have value, and giving in to threats. If they didn’t think the book had literary value, presumably they would have rejected it on its own merits.

  14. Hasn’t that McCain verbal gaffe hobby horse broken down yet Alex? Do you really think McCain doesn’t know the difference? The constant repetition of an acknowledged error in a speech would be like another contributor bringing up “57 states” three times a week as evidence of Obama’s unfitness to lead in unrelated comment threads.

  15. Dodd, Lord Clark said that civilizations die out of exhaustion or lack of confidence. I am reluctant to pronounce the death rattle of Western Civilization yet, but it is a war in which the news from the front is not always good. I know you know that is is a constant battle and one that can still be lost. Lord Clark also noted Western Civilization had almost been eradicated once before and that we survived by the skin of our teeth.

    As to the decision to pull back out of fear, well, art has been dead in Western Civilization for quite some time now. This is just another indication of the lifelessness of its corpse. Imagine artists yielding to the state or moneyed interests they way they do Islamist extremists and yet boldly talking about shock and awe and speaking truth to power. More like schlock and awful.

  16. Dodd says:

    BTW, there’s a huge difference between self-censorship because you don’t think the book in question doesn’t have value, and giving in to threats.

    That would be a somewhat accurate summary of my post, yes. Except that only one of those things is actually self-censorship. And there’s the small fact that this wasn’t a case of giving in to threats; this is about self-censorship that arose from fear one might get threatened sometime later.

    Lord Clark said that civilizations die out of exhaustion or lack of confidence. I am reluctant to pronounce the death rattle of Western Civilization yet, but it is a war in which the news from the front is not always good.

    And that would be quite an accurate summary of my post. I view my culture with a heavy dose of Heinlein. And what I see underltying acts such as this is a callow, self-absorbed culture that’s getting to a place where it no longer cares if it survives. In a word: exhausted.

  17. Bithead says:

    Dodd, Lord Clark said that civilizations die out of exhaustion or lack of confidence.

    I’d say folding in the face of violence qualifies as the latter, wouldn’t you?

  18. Texpatriate says:

    I’m old enough to remember the supression of books last time, when the issue was sexual morality. I had no trouble getting a copy of “Lady Chatterley” or “Tropic of Cancer,” both of which were banned.

    Eventually, underground circulation created a market that fed the sort of roaring decadence you see in mainstream media today.

    I believe we’re at this stage: There are a few instances of works being supressed, but not enough to create an underground channel for proscribed works.

    When the underground channel comes, criticism of Islam will be unrestrained, widespread, and completely beyond anyone’s ability to influence it. The current censorship — whether by threat, lawsuit, or spinelessness — is horribly self-defeating. You won’t just see gentle stories like “Jewel of Medina” circulated underground, you’ll also see a brisk trade in the as-yet unwritten equivalent of “The Turner Diaries.”

    And then it’ll go mainstream.

  19. bains says:

    And what I see underlying acts such as this is a callow, self-absorbed culture that’s getting to a place where it no longer cares if it survives.

    I disagree. What I see is a dominate culture under assault. From within and out. As with many successful civilizations, need has been removed from the ruling class. Instead of worrying about from where food and shelter will come, the leading class idly thinks about how to perfect their society. They are the new vanguard of the proletariat. They see suffering elsewhere and sympathize with the vocal self-proported representatives. And they acquiesce.

    Their lives are not threatened, their livelihood guaranteed – they feel magnanimous and they want to be loved. And they will spend your dollars, and lives, to attain their peculiar nirvana.

    Our culture is not exhausted. It is overwrought with self-indulgence – nihilists so consumed with the perfection of their manicure they can not see the world beyond their hand. Beyond their hand however is the real world, a vibrant world, a world where millions of folks aspire to success. They yearn for the dream promised, and will work tirelessly to ensure that, if not they, their children will be beneficiary of those efforts.

    Herein lies the fundamental difference between left and right. The left wants to give folks what they want. The right wants to allow folks to earn what they deserve. Our society is not going to die of exhaustion – it likely will die by suicide.

  20. od says:

    That would be a somewhat accurate summary of my post, yes. Except that only one of those things is actually self-censorship. And there’s the small fact that this wasn’t a case of giving in to threats; this is about self-censorship that arose from fear one might get threatened sometime later.

    Good point. Didn’t Churchill say something about the only thing to fear is fear itself?

  21. Sarg says:

    OD i think that was Roosevelt that said that on Dec 7 when he declared war.

    Logan: in my redneck,trailer park, chicken eatin, anti Obammy view, the red dot in my Leupold 13 x 30 doesn’t know the difference of the sects either and frankly I don’t care to. If they come over here they are all targets.