Wednesday, September 30, 2009

* Intellectual Guts: Yale and the Daily News

Letter to the Editor
Yale Daily News

Whatever one thinks of Yale Press’s censorship (Bolton v. Blair) of the Muhammad cartoons one of the things I admire most about Yale and the Yale Daily News is their courage in making space for both sides of an intellectual argument to be heard, even when one (or both) is clearly wrong.

They did this in the 70’s with racism: Black Panthers and the now discredited scholar who proposed that African Americans had inferior brain power; they did it in the eighties with feminism and sexism; and they did it in the 90’s with gay rights and straight uptights.

Now they are doing it with the Yale Press censorship of the Muhammad cartoons and the very cartoonists and editors who published those cartoon appearing on campus.

This is what a Univerity is about: pursuing the truth wherever it leads.

Bravo Yale and YDN!

However,intellectual debate or not, it is ironic that the Judeo-Christian world has been so intolerant of 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 millennia-old text-message-type abbreviation, YHWH.

Ham is cursed (Genesis 9:20-27) for "viewing" his father Noah's nakedness, and the 3000 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 Roman Catholic churches and the breaking of statues and desecration of stained glass and painted images, something Mr. Blair's country knows about firsthand. (Ever use the word "iconoclasm"?)

So former U.N. Ambassador Bolton (LAW ’76) and his friends who call Yale Press’s censorship “intellectual cowardice” shouldn't get too huffy and puffy in their smug rejection of Muslim taboos which prompted Yale Press's censorship.

Nor should former Prime Minister Blair, now teaching a religion and ethics course at Yale, who applauds the Yale Press’s decision as “absolutely the right thing”, fail to see the fascinating and horrifying stalemate created between different aspects of First Amendment rights here: Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom of Religion.
Pusillanimous Yale Press ?

(Removed by Yale Daily News)
When a taboo is elevated to the level of zeal bloodshed has often been the consequence. If I recall correctly, the Christian Crusades slaughtered a few folk in propagating its own taboos.)

It is only the intellectual debate embraced by Yale itself and the Yale Daily News which can keep the zeal in check.

Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

above letter appeared as
# 47 in comments to the article:

Cartoonist’s visit causes stirBy Alison Greenberg, Danny Serna and Esther Zuckerman
Contributing Reporter, Contributing Reporter, Staff Reporter
Published Friday, October 2, 2009

. .

Comments from the Yale Daily News:

#51 By Hieronymus 1:55p.m. on October 5, 2009

#47: proving again the superfluity--indeed, the embarrassment--of DIV.

Paraphrase: "Jews wrote YHWH and Protestants trashed Catholics, so, we moderns should think twice about criticizing others' censorship."

Ah, equivalency and moral relativism--at least M.Divs are consistent.

Why do M.Divs even, well, *bother* with the G-d question, given that to them 'twould seem the conclusion is foregone?
#53 By PDK M.'Div. '80 5:34a.m. on October 6, 2009
"...should think twice about criticizing others' censorship." Hieronymous

Hieronymous seems a bit testy.

I believe the words were "it is ironic how intolerant the Judeo-Christian world is of Muslim censorship of the Muhammad image".

Does that say anything about "think twice about critciziing others'censorship?" Go at it. Criticize all you want. Am merely pointing out an irony.

My point may be (and it is still gestating) that religions go through evolutionary stages and that some of the components of Islam may be stuck in "arrested development" just as the Judeo-Christian world was stuck for centuries in "arrested devlopment", and remnants of it remain so today, in the name of orthodoxy.

Indeed my own letter was "censored" by the YDN and I am not objecting. If you want to read the omitted penultimate sentence go to

I assume YDN was acting responsibly since they thought my anti-christian sentiments about the christian Crusades might inflame an already incendiary situation. (Will they do that again here?)

Kindly don't lump me together with all "Divs".

My history at YDN as publisher, editor and sole writer of
Holy Smoke: Opinionation from Holy Hill 1976-80, and now as blogger of The Anti-Yale, is one of gadfly and irritant to the Yale and other institutions involved in the idolatrous worship known as Materialism. And don't for a minute think Materialism isn't a religion whose rites are practiced this very second on millions of digital altars around the globe.

I named those institutions Mercantilia in 1977 at YDS and that label still applies today.

My comments have nothing to do with "foregone conclusions."

And by the way, my comments are signed with a real name, and an academic background, for what that is worth.

Paul Keane

M.A.(Middlebury '97), M.Ed.(Kent State,'72)



#56 By Hieronymus 10:13a.m. on October 7, 2009

Apologies, Paul Keane: YDN did not find my response suitable for publishing.

Rest assured: my skewering of your hypocrisy was amusing and incisive.
#57 By Paul Keane 5:15p.m. on October 7, 2009
My dear Hieronymous:

Sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the Devil; for which reason I have, long since, as good as renounced it.
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (1833-1834), book II, ch. IV

While, Hieronymous, I do not subscribe to personifications of either evil or good in the form of deities or devils, I do believe that separating one's mind from one's heart is a pyschological equivalent of what Dante called the Inferno.

I recall when I was much younger taking a kind of sterile exhilaration from skewering others on the rapier of my prose.

Do I detect an echo of same in your "Rest assured: my skewering of your hypocrisy was amusing and incisive."

I could save you forty years of trouble, but unfortunately each new generation must learn these lessons anew.

So, Good night Hieronymous. The rest is silence . . .

Paul K

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