The Rushdie Rules Apply

Sherry Jones, author of Jewel of Medina was recently informed by her publisher, Random House, that her book, which was ready for release, would be ‘postponed indefinitely’ because it ‘might be offensive to some Muslims’ and ‘could invite acts of violence by a radical segment.’

I was surprised last night when I was talking to e friend, and he defended Random House by saying that he thought they were doing nothing wrong.  The more I thought about it, the more I disagreed with him.

My friend claimed that the publisher was doing the right thing by going ahead and paying her the $100,000 advance and allowing her to seek another publisher.  I don’t see it that way.  They had to pay her the advance, because they were contractually obligated to do so.  They let her leave to keep her from suing the pants off of them.  But, they did her wrong when they let it go so long before canceling the book, and then saying that their reason was that it ‘might be offensive to some Muslims’ and ‘could invite acts of violence by a radical segment.’  By doing so, they have put her in the unenviable position of being accused publicly of producing a book that is offensive to Muslims before it is even released.  Other publishing houses will have increased pressure from Muslim groups that will only be fed by the words used by her publisher.  She has also been put in danger by these same inflammatory words.  Some might say that this was great for her, and she would have never gotten this kind of publicity if they had simply released the book.  Funny, the editors at Random House did not see it that way for themselves.  She claims that she never intended to offend anyone with the book, but by their actions, her publishing company has placed her in a no win situation with the book.

I looked at the excerpts from the book, and I think it is safe to say that the content and tone of the book is no different than that of the DA  Vinci Code, another book published by Random House.  If anything, it is much less offensive.  Jones’ book, chronicles the marriage and life of Muhammad’s bride A’isha.  In the author’s own words, “My book is a respectful portrayal of Islam, of A’isha, of Muhammad. And anyone who reads it with [an] open mind will come away with an understanding of Islam as a peaceful religion.”  She has attempted to write a work of historical fiction that is a positive portrayal of Muslims.

In Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, the author uses the story of Jesus to develop the idea that he had a daughter who moved to France and continued his (Jesus’) bloodline.  In this case, the author actually claimed that his work of fiction was based in truth (though this has been proven to be an untrue statement).  This book definitely did outrage people in the Christian community, especially Catholics.  The theological implications in the plot of the book were obvious, and damaging to the Christian religion.  Unlike the case with Jones’ book, however, Random House did not pull the book from production.  In fact, they rolled up the Brinks truck for this blockbuster, made a movie and a produced Brown’s sequel.

The double standard is clear and leads to only two possible conclusions.  Either the publishers at Random House are more sympathetic to the Muslim religion than they are to Christianity, or they are pissing on the great journalistic tradition of the free press that the greatness of the United States has provided them with by cowardly knuckling under to threats of violence by a bunch of religious thugs.  I suspect it is a lot of both.

Shame on Random House for their cowardly ways.  It is simply another example of the press self-editing simply because they are afraid to offend Muslims or are afraid of Muslim retaliation.  Random House has a long history of publishing books that are offensive to the Christian religion (see The Golden Compass or How Jesus Became a Christian for good examples).  They need to be more consistent.  The intellectual hand-down that is continually provided by people who defend their violent ways is tiresome, and reveals the truth that these progressive people do not believe that Muslims are on the same plain with them or Christians because they do not hold them to the same standards.

Shame also on the Muslim religion that continues its thuggish attempts to restrict the press.  It’s time for them to start winning over the hearts and minds of people they do not agree with like other religions do, rather than killing people.  It took Christianity a long time to get this point.  It’s time for the leaders of Islam to grow up, take charge of their religion, and curb the violent factions therein.

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