The Rewards of Violence

surrenderThe Commentator reports:

The Australian National University (ANU) has apparently banned the satirisation of Islam for fear of inciting violence and creating a backlash.

The Australian newspaper reported this week that the ANU cited international violence in the wake of the Danish cartoons and Innocence of Muslims film to justify its decision to force student newspaper Woroni to pulp a satirical infographic which described a passage from the Qu’ran as a “rape fantasy”.

The university also reportedly threatened student authors and editors of the infographic with disciplinary action, including academic exclusion and the withdrawal of the publication’s funding. Critics have argued that the university is effectively introducing a “blasphemy law” seeking to protect Islam from criticism.

The piece was the fifth in a satirical series entitled “Advice from Religion” which had previously discussed Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism and Judaism – none of which drew complaint or university action.

To make a truly fair comparison, it would be necessary to see what “advice” the other religions were purportedly giving, but the statement issued by the university delivers a clear enough message nevertheless:

“In a world of social media, (there is) potential for material such as the article in question to gain attention and traction in the broader world and potentially harm the interests of the university and the university community. This was most clearly demonstrated by the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy … and violent protests in Sydney on September 15 last year.”

The question is not the quality of what was published or whether the university was entitled to do what it did (legally, yes, it seems) or even whether it was right, or at least prudent to do so, at least as seen from ANU’s own perspective. What really is at issue here is whether fear of a violent response is having a chilling effect on the ability of those in the west who would do so to mock or otherwise criticize Islam.

The answer, of course, is yes. And this is just another reminder.

More background here.

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