The Yale Committee for a Free Press, a group of alumni who are critical of Yale’s decision to remove caricatures of Muhammad from an upcoming book about the 2005 Danish cartoon controversy, has officially released its letter to the editor of the Yale Alumni Magazine. The letter, sent by e-mail on Friday, carries the signatures of 25 Elis, including John Bolton ’70 LAW ’74, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and David Frum ’82 GRD ’82, the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush ’68.
It is clear the debate over the Press’ decision will not end with the alums’ letter. The Associated Press published a lengthy story on the controversy earlier today, throwing the Press back into the headlines.
Read the alums’ letter — a draft of which was posted to Cross Campus last week — after the jump.
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