Howling Frog Books: "Banned Books Week is coming up.."

“...Remember just about ten years ago, there was a big kerfuffle in Europe over some editorial cartoons?   Flemming Rose, a new editor at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, was hearing more and more that people were self-censoring on the subject of Islam.  An illustrator asked to work on a children's biography of Muhammad said that he would do the work, as long as his name did not appear on the book.  Well, Rose thought that was maybe not so good and everybody should start talking, so he asked a whole lot of cartoonists to submit portraits of Muhammad.  Twelve ran, and pretty soon there was a mess.  Death threats, murder attempts, incitements to riot in Islamic countries, and a lot of yelling ensued.  Rose (who had actually spent most of his career in Russia) was both taken aback by the reaction, and upset to find that an awful lot of people thought that censorship of one kind or another would have been better than running the cartoons.

Here, Rose talks in some detail about the whole incident, and then moves into a wider context, giving his arguments against the idea that only "punching up" is acceptable (power dynamics are a lot more complex than that) or that minorities ought to be protected by legislation.  He gives his thoughts about European worries about free speech over the past 70 years or so.  He also talks about his time in Russia and the severe curtailment of free speech that has been habitual there.  Finally, he gives some specific incidents from Islamic countries showing that anti-blasphemy laws are mostly used to oppress, not to protect vulnerable minorities.

It's all quite fascinating and very worth reading; a valuable addition to the ongoing discussion of what free speech means and how far it can or should be taken...”
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Institute of Public Affairs Australia: Free speech lost in translation

“...In 2005 Rose was the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten. He commissioned and published the cartoons in his section of the paper. And it was Rose who, more than anyone else, bore the brunt of the backlash-as well as being the most prominent defender of the decision to publish. First published in Denmark in 2010, his book was written at first to justify his actions and respond to critics. It has just been republished by the American free market think tank the Cato Institute, but developed into a longer discourse about free speech and censorship.
The purpose of the cartoons was to take a position in favour of free expression, and to editorialise against self-censorship in Denmark. The Jyllands-Posten editorial team were interested in the fact that a Danish children's author, Kåre Bluitgen, had only been able to get an illustrator for his book on the life of Muhammad if the illustrations were done anonymously. In the middle of a Danish debate on selfcensorship, this was an opportunity for the paper to take a stand: not a stunt, or an experiment, but a statement of principles...”
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The Tribune Papers: "...Keep Talking"

“...One important factor historically separating Western Civilization from other civilizations was its belief in individual rights. Among these would be freedom of speech, the right to worship as one pleases, and freedom of assembly. Individuals are respected and held to high expectations. Today, “rights” is but one word whose definition is being shifted to compromise personal freedoms.
In Europe, now, people talk about community rights. They advocate for rights to housing, healthcare, and other characteristics of a welfare state. This form of rights is harder to defend on a premise of natural rights, endowed by a Creator, since groups are human inventions. A more serious problem, notes Rose, is that dilution of the definition eases civilizations glide down a slippery slope from a “free society” to a “fear society.”
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Free Inquiry: Deadly Serious

“...The Tyranny of Silence is Rose’s insider account of the cartoon crisis, and it is gripping. He deftly presents the tangled chain of events and summarizes the principal arguments for and against publishing the cartoons. (Spoiler alert: if he had it to do again, he would.) Perhaps most valuable are Rose’s meditations about a misguided culture of grievance that is deeply established in Europe and gaining influence in the United States and which threatens free speech as generations of Westerners have known it.
“Doubt is the germ of curiosity and critical questioning,” Rose writes, “and its prerequisite is a strong sense of self, a courage that leaves room for debate.” Under freedom of speech, every belief and every group is equally subject to discussion, criticism, and even satire or ridicule. No one is exempt, whether on grounds of privilege or because of the lack of it. “In a democracy, no one can claim the exclusive right to tell certain stories,” Rose writes. “That means, to me, that Muslims have the right to tell jokes and critical stories about Jews, while nonbelievers can skewer Islam in any way they wish.” It was because he had seen Danish institutions censoring themselves so as not to offend Muslims that Rose invited twelve cartoonists to defend by demonstration this vivid principle of free expression.”
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The Washington Times: The fear that continues to consume journalists

“...Mr. Rose’s life is now forever marked by the Cartoon Crisis. He’s had about a decade to reflect on some daunting questions, including, “What do you say to people who ask how you can sleep at night when hundreds of people have died because of what you have done?”
His book-length answer to that question is impressive. “The Tyranny of Silence” is one of the three or four best books that the libertarian Cato Institute has ever had a hand in publishing — up there with Gene Healy’s “The Cult of the Presidency” and Jonathan Rauch’s other free speech classic, “The Kindly Inquisitors.” Not coincidentally, the back cover of Mr. Rose’s work carries an endorsement by Mr. Rauch, which begins, “Should I be afraid to blurb this book? Reading it makes me wonder.”
The book is not so much a rousing defense of freedom of expression as an exploration of what happens when journalists cave in to the censors, the would-be ayatollahs, the placard wavers or just the ordinary decent people who don’t understand why we can’t all be nicer. It documents a ratchet effect more pronounced in Muslim countries and communities but present in every society. Some folks claim offense, they are conciliated, the conciliations are passed into law, and this only emboldens more people to be outraged...”
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Bill's Book Reviews and News: Why the Jyllands-Posten Cartoon Controversy matters to almost all western writers - and it's not limited to drawings

“The book covers a tremendous range of interlocking issues about free speech and even about the modern liberal idea of the rule of law, going way beyond just the idea of any possible religious insult from the cartoons.  One central theme is whether people outside a putatively marginalized cultural group have the “right” to publish materials about people in that group.  For me, that is the inverse of the issue I face as a writer: I focus on my own story, whereas real “writers”, so to speak, make a living by writing about characters or people very different from themselves (Stephen King, in the fiction world, for example).  Another theme concerns how freedom of speech meshes with other rights on both individual and group levels.  There is concern over whether there is a right “not to be insulted” (although that plays out differently on individual and group levels.)  There is the idea that “free speech” can marginalize groups in such a way that dictators can then pounce and scapegoat the group (this theory of how Hitler pursued his “Final Solution” is examined). There is also a delineation between western individualistic cultures conflict with “fear-based” hierarchal societies common in history and characterizing totalitarian regimes today.  Rose sees the psychology of extreme communism, fascism, and “radical Islam” (the name I’ll use for now) as fundamentally similar.  Rose also give some understanding of why young men turn to combative ideology as with radical Islam.  Liberal society, with its notion of individualized accomplishment does not work for them, but a world based on the use of force, where they are able to compete socially, does work.  Put all of these ideas together and you get something very grim, and its implications for speech.  Those who criticize a belief system (religious or not), or idolized leadership (think about North Korea, for example), are to be targeted, with such determination that a normal legal system cannot stop it.  A “fear culture”, whether a religious establishment or a rogue state (or a combo of both) can, from abroad, go to war with individual citizens who even criticize it publicly. Indeed, in his endorsement on the dust cover, gay and apatheistic libertarian author  Jonathan Rauch speculates on fear associated even with a “blurb” for the book, and Nat Hentoff characterizes the “self-censorship among individuals and societies confronted by highly combative cultures that allow no criticism of their sacred beliefs.”  And to be honest, even civilized people don't like to see some beliefs overtaken, but civilization keeps us from making too much of other people's business. “
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“…It is not clear how much of the outrage can be attributed to the mere fact of printing drawings of
Mohammed and how much to perceived insults in the cartoons. Rose analyzes the competing
Muslim positions on depictions of Mohammed. These range from acceptance such depictions
appear in Muslim art to neutrality concerning non Muslims’ activities in this regard, to the fury
of the “grievance fundamentalists” (in Rose’s apt phrase), whose position is that no one
anywhere can be allowed to contravene the strictest interpretation of any Islamic tenet or even
custom. It was this segment of Muslims that produces the murderers, would be murderers,
bombers, and rioters who violently assault any critic of any aspect of Islamic pr
actice. The cases of Theo van Gogh, Salman Rushdie, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are only the best
known instances of people living in Europe whose words have brought them death or a life under constant threat…”
Read the review
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Los Angeles Review of Books: Avant Charlie: Flemming Rose and The Danish Cartoon Crisis

“...The Tyranny of Silence is not an apology; it is one man’s narrative among many. “In the open society,” Rose writes, “history moves forward through the exchange of new narratives.” He explains that during a conversation with Salman Rushdie in 2009 he came to understand that “what differentiates open and closed societies is the right to tell and retell our own and other people’s stories.” Any attempt to prevent those stories from being told is not simply a restriction on free speech; it is an assault on human nature. “When we spoke,” Rose recalls, “Rushdie observed that from childhood, we use storytelling as a way of defining and understanding ourselves. It is a phenomenon that derives from a language instinct that is universal and innate in human nature.”
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Harvard Political Review: Self-Censorship: The Hidden Gag Order

“...A related set of events transpired in 2005, when a series of Prophet Mohammed caricatures were published in Denmark. The reactions from some members of the public were much worse than anticipated: death threats were issued, a widespread boycott of Denmark was initiated, Danish embassies were set on fire, and several protest-related deaths resulted. Flemming Rose, who commissioned the 2005 cartoons as cultural editor of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, recently released his book on the so-called cartoon crisis. In The Tyranny of Silence, the man principally responsible for the Danish cartoons’ publication writes about his new life as an object of hatred and about his free speech philosophy, in a manner that would immediately make any free speech libertarian nod...”
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Washington Free Beacon Review: Flemming Rose’s ‘Tyranny of Silence’

“Free speech does not enjoy such popular support elsewhere, a hard reality underscored by the hail of bullets directed at French satire publication Charlie Hebdo last week. The bullets were intended to silence outspoken critics of Islam. They served their grisly purpose in 12 cases and counting. But terrorists have not yet managed to silence Danish journalist Flemming Rose, although they would sorely like to. Rose’s vigorous defense of free speech, The Tyranny of Silence, has recently been translated into English from the original Danish.
The translation could not have come at a better time.
When reached for comment on the Paris attacks, Rose told the Washington Free Beacon that “Charlie Hebdo was the only European paper that hadn’t internalized the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Since 2008 it has been the only paper that continued to insist on their right to do religious satire. Frankly, my book and its thesis has become more urgent than ever. The people behind the mass murder in Paris want to impose a global blasphemy law to protect their religion against criticism, the want to establish a tyranny of silence…”
“The lesson for us: if you give in to intimidation, you will not get less but more of it because you show the perpetrators that it works.”
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Library Journal Reviews Political Science: The Tyranny of Silence

Political Science (Books are selected for their potential interest to a broad spectrum of libraries.)
OrangeReviewStarFathi, Nazila. The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran. Basic: Perseus. Dec. 2014. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9780465069996. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465040926. POL SCI
Panetta, Leon with Jim Newton. Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace. Penguin Pr. 2014. 512p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781594205965. $36; ebk. ISBN 9780698152748. POL SCI
OrangeReviewStarPalestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation. McSweeney’s. (Voice of Witness). 2014. 320p. ed. by Cate Malek & Mateo Hoke. illus. maps. notes. ISBN 9781940450247. pap. $16. POL SCI
Risen, James. Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. 304p. index. ISBN 9780544341418. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544341425. POL SCI
OrangeReviewStarRose, Flemming. The Tyranny of Silence. Cato Inst. 2014. 240p. notes. ISBN 9781939709424. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781939709431. POL SCI
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World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh: Book Recommendations - The Tyranny of Silence

Book recommendations from World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

The Browser: Writing worth Reading

“The Tyranny of Silence”
Conversation with Flemming Rose, who as editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of Mohammed which met with violence and anger among Muslims around the world. Rose sees the democratic state in crisis, unable to contain the internal disparities of a multicultural society. Instead of increasing the diversity of expression, diversity of culture is constraining speech”
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The New Republic: The Man Behind the Most Infamous Cartoon of All Time

“...Rose has been called a Nazi, a Muslim-hater, and a Danish Satan. He has been simultaneously targeted with death threats and blamed for the deaths of 200 or more innocent people around the world. Since September 2005, when he commissioned now-infamous cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed for the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, Rose has been a focal point for the tension between respect for cultural diversity and the protection of democratic freedoms.
This image of Rose as provocateur extraordinaire is difficult to reconcile with the man himself: Soft-spoken and reflective, he gives the impression of being still a little surprised to have caused such a stir. “I am not by nature a provocative person,” he explained to me when I met with him in Washington, D.C. “I do not seek conflict for its own sake, and it gives me no pleasure when people take offense at things I have said or done.” It’s baffling to him that Westerners couldn’t see his decision to publish the cartoons as an act in defense of the values on which liberal democracies were founded.”
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Svensk Tidskrift: När yttrandefriheten försvinner

“I boken Tyranny of Silence tar Rose sin utgångspunkt i publiceringsbeslutet men boken bör framförallt ses som en diskussion om yttrandefrihetens bakgrund och framtid. Det bör direkt sägas att Rose inte är en Lars Vilks-karaktär. Där Vilks är ett yrväder till konstnärssjäl är Rose en samlad akademiker med fötterna på jorden.”
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