Thoughtful Thursday – Censorship or Sensibleness?

JEWEL OF MEDINA by Sherry JonesThis is probably as controversial a topic as any we’ll discuss here. Not something I normally do, but the whole idea grabbed my interest and saddened me at the same time. What’s this topic about?

A New York City publisher cancelled the publication of a historical novel by Sherry Jones about one of the wives of Muhammad due to concerns that the book might be offensive to some and also “that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” For more information on how this book was pulled from the market, please click here to read an essay by Asra Nomani of the Wall Street Journal.

Ms. Nomani, who is no stranger to the Muslim community and has worked for change toward women in the Muslim world, notes in her article that these actions saddened her.

It saddens me as well for a number of reasons and I’m interested to hear what you have to say. As for the reasons it saddens me, here goes:

It saddens me as a proponent of free speech that someone’s work is apparently being censored.
It saddens me as a writer to see years of hard work and the dream of publication being ripped away at the last minute.
It saddens me as a romance writer to see something which is described by one as a “racy historical novel” being called “soft core pornography” by another.
It saddens me as an American that the threat of terror has silenced someone much like terrorists hoped to silence America by taking down the Towers.
It saddens me for all the Muslims who do not believe that violence is the answer since unfortunately, it is the radical elements of any society that seem to get the press.
It saddens me as a woman since part of the goal of this novel who wanted to give a voice to the women in the book.

How do you feel? What do you think about what has happened to this book?

For some other comments on this event, you can check out these links:

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/publishing/has_random_house_let_the_terrorists_win_90974.asp?c=rss
http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/the-jewel-of-medina-is-now-on-sale-no-wait-nevermind/

0 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday – Censorship or Sensibleness?”

  1. I’m obviously in the minority here, but I don’t agree that an author “has the right to write a work of fiction *and get it published*”. No one has a “right” to be published–it’s a business decision on the part of the publisher. No one is “censoring” this author–she’s free to post her book on the internet if she wishes (she just won’t get paid for it).

    I think the real issue is the COURAGE of the publisher. They should have either a) told the author right away that they “weren’t interested” in her book, rather than stringing her along, or b) had the guts to publish it and defend a good work of fiction.

  2. I am tired of being politically correct so that I don’t upset anybody. I was raised to be polite and show respect. I try to not hurt someone’s feelings. BUT, I would certainly like to have the same politeness and respect. Maybe then a good book would not have to be pulled becasue it ‘might upset a small group’

  3. I want to thank you all for your comments. The more I considered it, the more I wondered about the professor’s reaction. My gut would have said, call the publisher and explain your concerns privately. Try to keep things from getting blown out of proportion. It would not have been, call someone with a Muslim listserv to voice my fears.

    Makes you wonder.

  4. I detest any form of censorship. I believe freedom of speech is our dearest freedom. How dare anyone tell another what they can or cannot say or read, Personally, I think they are the insecure ones. They think everyone has to think the same because they don’t have the confidence in their own beliefs.

  5. I agree with you Caridad it makes me sad as well for all the same reasons, but I also understand Random House’s position. The likelyhood that people could get hurt or even killed. Who needs that kind of aggravation never mind the potential liability? The good news for the author is that if the book ever does reach print, with all this publicity it is likely to sell extremely well. “The Satanic Verses” illustrated that didn’t it? (I don’t really remember what the numbers were like but they must have been huge – nothing like banning a book to get people to want to read it.)

  6. Score another win for terrorism. When I think about our brave men and women fighting and giving up their lives to try to stop terrorism, I get so angry at people like Ms. Spellman. Ms. Jones has the right to write a work of fiction and have it published. Shame on the publisher for giving in to terrorist. Had it not been for Ms. Spellman, no one would have even paid attention to the book except us readers. We enjoy a book for it’s ability to entertain us, not looking for anything else. We understand that it is FICTION and not intended to be anything else. She brought it national attention. With people like her, we can’t possibly win this war. That makes me sad that supposedly loyal Americans appear to be assisting terrorism within our borders. This is an outrage. She appears to have enough clout to ban any book she chooses, and we let her get away with it. America needs to wake up and realize what is going on. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get out my soapbox but this is something I believe in very strongly. I hope some publisher will stand up and get this book on the market. Ms. Jones deserves better than this. Have a great day and hugs.

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