Friday, August 14, 2009

Mohammad and Man at Yale: Burning Books (One Cartoon at a Time)

“Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book,” by Patricia Cohen (New York Times, August 12, 2009)

In 1951, Bill Buckley published God and Man at Yale, a polemic arguing that the Christian God was no longer welcome at Yale University, a school founded to train Christian ministers and educate students about their Christian faith. That was too "biased" even in 1951.

58 years later, Yale University Press decides that they do respect religion -- the most biased, intolerant expressions of it. If Islam is a "religion of peace" and wisdom and tolerance, Western "progressives" are acting as if it were not. That is cowardly, yes, but also condescending, insulting to thinking Muslims, and suicidal to the academic enterprise.

[For those who are interested, Google "Danish Mohammed Cartoons" without the quotes and -- voila! -- the veiled is visible]

Book burnings horrify civil libertarians but this precensorship is far worse. Know-nothing book burners may burn a single book but copies of it remain and the ideas live on. Academic precensorship makes sure that the book the author wishes to write never sees the light of day.

What's next? Pre-clearance of academic monographs by Grand Ayatollahs?

I am sure Islamofascists would be offended by the photographs of Ms. Krausen without a hajib. We won't even mention the fashion spreads in the New York Times Magazine.

Or all the Jewish writers at the Times.

But perhaps Yale is right. The Wise and Wonderful Ayatollah Khomeini said

We are not afraid of economic sanctions or military intervention. What we are afraid of is Western universities
With another demonstration of chicken-sh** cowardice, Western universities have demonstrated that when it comes to Islamic threats, their only position is "prone."

(Apologies to chickens)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Steal this Book": Students and Textbooks

[Crossposted from my eHistory web site]

One of my favorite technology sites, has an article on "how to save money on textbooks." The comments are more illuminating than the article. Students discuss how they scan (and share) textbooks, download them via torrent sites, and so on. Apparently this doesn't work too well with high school students because the illegal e-book crowd gets busted when the teacher asks to see their textbook. Oops.

As for me, I'm adopting a free e-book developed by the University of Houston. The site is rich and a PDF reprinting is a lot easier than stealing books or waiting to see if the prof is really going to used it. I make it a point to assign questions from the textbook, along with questions from lecture material and supplemental readings. If I were a student (I'm on the evil teacher side), I'd be teed after buying a $150 book that the professor didn't use.