Letter: Taboos have led to censorship for millenia

Re: “Conservative alums criticize Yale Press” (Sept. 3). I agree with John Bolton ’70 LAW ’74 that the Yale Press’s refusal to print controversial cartoons of Muhammad in a book it is releasing on the controversy generated by those very same images is an act of “intellectual cowardice.”

Yet it is ironic that the Judeo-Christian world is so outraged by the censorship imposed by the Muslim world on the image of Muhammad. The Old Testament is full of censorship. The face of God could not be looked upon, nor his name (Yahweh) written or spoken — hence the 5,000-year-old text-message abbreviation YHWH.

Ham is cursed (Genesis 20-28) for “viewing” his father Noah’s nakedness, and the 3,000-plus-year history of racism begins.

And unless my memory fails me, one of the central pillars of the Protestant Reformation was the taboo against images: hence the ransacking of Catholic churches and the breaking of statues and desecration of stained glass and painted images. (Ever use the word “iconoclasm”?)

So Bolton and his friends shouldn’t get too huffy and puffy in their smug rejection of Muslim taboos.

Indeed, if I recall correctly, the Christian crusaders slaughtered a few folk in propagating their own taboos.

Paul Keane

White River Junction, Vt.

Sept. 4

The writer is a 1980 graduate of the Yale Divinity School.

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