It's a very unpleasant feeling when you have to be constantly ashamed of your own school. As I have mentioned before, I didn't even attend my doctoral graduation because I felt no emotional attachment to the school or the diploma it gave me. I hope Yale changes, of course, and then I will be able to feel proud of having gone there. It seems, however, that is not going to happen for a while. Recent news from Yale are very discouraging.
Yale University Press has deemed it necessary to censor a scholarly volume analyzing the cartoons that appeared in a Danish newspaper and sparkled a huge controversy: "After consulting what it says were two dozen experts, the publishing house decided that not only would the offending cartoons not appear in the book, but all renditions of Mohammad -- including a classic sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Dore -- would be banned." It's hard to imagine the book titled The Cartoons That Shook the World without the actual cartoons. What next, a book on Cervantes without a single quote? A book on Goya with no reproductions of his paintings? The whole purpose that the book's author, Prof. Jytte Klausen of Brandeis University, was attempting to achieve with her analysis is undermined. And for what? An unfounded fear that somebody, somewhere might get upset? Controversy? But isn't the whole point of publishing research to provoke debate?
Yale UP based its cowardly and idiotic decision on the opinions of some unidentified experts whose names it made every effort to conceal not only from the public but also from the author herself: "Adding insult to injury, the Yale Press's director, John Donatich, only allowed Klausen to read a summary of the experts' recommendations if she signed a gag order that barred her from discussing them." The only reason for this secrecy must be that the "experts" in question realize how unreasonable and undemocratic their "expert opinions" are. What's scary, though, is that a university press should limit its own authors out of a deference to a bunch of insane religious fanatics. Research cannot exist without the freedom of thought and the freedom of expression. Academics need to be able to conduct their work and publish their findings without the limitations of some badly digested idea of political correctness.