I haven’t been blogging for a while- summer holidays and all that. Of course during my unnoticed absence many things haven’t changed. Random House publishers have decided to postpone indefinitely (read cancelled) The Jewel of Medina, the debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones. It is a novel about the prophet Muhammed’s child bride. The reason they cite is that they have been warned that the novel may incite some Muslim’s to violence.
I cannot help but compare this step with the kind of furore that follows every blasphemous piece directed towards the Christian faith. There we constantly hear the message that Christians can be offended if they want this is about freedom of speech. But clearly we are being told here that freedom of speech is not really a right worth defending. Freedom of speech has its limits- a potential threat and the literati will go running. Perhaps we’ll yet have public readings of the book. Or maybe those champions of free speech who so excoriate Christianity will publish extracts and broadcast extracts- anyone for television rights?! Random House have said someone else is free to publish the novel. Watch this space as the champions of free speech stride forward.