Bright College Years

by Richard Brookhiser

This letter on Yale University Press and the Mohammed cartoons was given to the Yale Alumni Magazine.

From: Steinberg, Michael W. 
Sent: Friday, September 04, 2009 12:55 PM
To: ’Yale Alumni Magazine’
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Importance: High

Yale University Press, owned and operated by Yale, has embraced censorship. 

The Press accepted for publication ”The Cartoons That Shook the World,” by Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen.  Then it deleted the cartoons from her manuscript.  Why?  Because the cartoons — which ran in newspapers and are on the Internet – might lead to more violence.  So Yale’s once-free press did away with them. 

The Press’s censors went further, deleting all pictures of Muhammed, including a 19th Century painting by Gustave Dore.  Why?  Because Islamic law forbids depictions of Muhammed, and – there might be violence.  So out went the pictures.

This surrender to unknown potential belligerents drew scorn from the American Association of University Professors.  The AAUP summarized Yale’s position:  “We do not negotiate with terrorists.  We just accede to their anticipated demands.”

Yale should not be the arbiter of what is “safe” to publish.  Such censorship violates Yale’s own explicit policy:  “Above all, every member of the university has an obligation to permit free expression in the university.  . . .  Every official of the university . . . has a special obligation to foster free expression and to ensure that it is not obstructed.”

In a world where light and truth are under siege, Yale alumni have a vital stake in preserving a free press.  The Yale Corporation must reverse this error, direct the Press to print Klausen’s book with the censored material restored, and distribute it widely — as a tangible reminder that freedom of the press cannot be taken for granted.  


Yale Committee for a Free Press

Amir A. Afkhami ‘97MA, ‘98MPhil, ‘03PhD & HS

John R. Bolton ‘70, ‘74JD

Max Boot ‘92MA

Richard Brookhiser ‘77

Theodore Bromund ‘99PhD

Brian M. Carney ‘96

Joshua Chadajo ‘01MBA
William W. Chip ‘71, ‘79JD
Seth Corey ‘78

David Frum ‘82 BA & MA

Maggie Gallagher ‘82

David Gortler, PharmD, PhD, FCCP, Former Faculty in Yale Pharmacology 

Todd Hartch ‘89, ‘95MA, ‘00PhD

James Kirchick ‘06

Matthew Klein ‘09

Lawrence Levine ’00 JD

David Munro ‘68

Noah Pollak ‘10 MA (anticipated)

Peter R. Rosenblatt ’54, ‘57L

Aaron Rothstein ‘09

Michael Rubin ‘94, ‘99PhD

Michael W. Steinberg ‘74

Keith Urbahn ‘06

Amy L. Wax ‘75

Diana West ‘83

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