I'd really rather not promote the moral idiot Christopher Hitchens, an "intellectual" who shamefully broke with his own alleged principles when George W. Bush decided it would be fun and profitable to invade Iraq, but when he's right, he's right.
See, Yale University Press is publishing a book called Cartoons That Shook the World, which "tells the story of the lurid and preplanned campaign of 'protest' and boycott that was orchestrated in late 2005 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a competition for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed." As you may recall, lives were lost during the subsequent riots and, while the subject was covered extensively in the Western press, the vast majority of our newspapers and magazines refused to permit their readers to actuall see what the fuss was about (if anyone's interested, my own reaction shortly thereafter is online here).
Nearly four years later, that short-sighted moral and intellectual pusillanimity is still going strong. Hitchens writes,
So here's another depressing thing: Neither the "experts in the intelligence, national security, law enforcement, and diplomatic fields, as well as leading scholars in Islamic studies and Middle East studies" who were allegedly consulted, nor the spokespeople for the press of one of our leading universities, understand the meaning of the plain and common and useful word instigate. If you instigate something, it means that you wish and intend it to happen. If it's a riot, then by instigating it, you have yourself fomented it. If it's a murder, then by instigating it, you have yourself colluded in it. There is no other usage given for the word in any dictionary, with the possible exception of the word provoke, which does have a passive connotation. After all, there are people who argue that women who won't wear the veil have "provoked" those who rape or disfigure them … and now Yale has adopted that "logic" as its own.
The full article is online at Slate.com (though it's interesting to note that, while Hitchens proivides a link to the cartoons, none of them appear alongside the article itself).
A problem with permissions, or is Slate refusing to practice what Hitchens is preaching?