Extremely interesting post over on the MobyLives blog called Dangerous Books about how the radical Islamic outrage over Salmon Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses has led to a pernicious self-censorship by major publishers in the West. Iran issued a death sentence for Mr. Rushdie who stayed in hiding for many years. Publishers and translators associated with Mr. Rushdie around the world were killed. Kenan Malik, in his new book about the Rushdie episode, says that the publishing industry has been forever changed by fear. Publishers in the West are no longer willing to publish works that might be considered offensive by some other group, religion, or nation.
My take on all this is simple: Dump these publishers. Yeah. Seriously. Ernest Hemingway was good with a hunting rifle. Can you imaging that guy cowering in front of some outraged religious nut job from Iran? No. He would have shot the imbecile down with a high-caliber metaphorical bullet. We don’t cower with our books and our thoughts in the West. We write them and publish them and if you get in our way with your stupid radical religious idiocy, we’ll blow you right down into the ground. That’s it. We need a new kind of author. A new kind of publisher. Fearless. Willing to shoot. I have no respect for an editor or a publishing house that reads a book and says, ‘Well, gee… this will inflame radicals all over the world and could lead to riots and to another bloody death threat. Let’s not publish this.’
I want to inflame with words. I want words that are bullets. The fire of the intellect destroys radical religious infections.
No more Western fear. You want to riot over my book? Good. Go for it. You want to shoot me because of my book? Go for it. I’m firing back and I’m not going to miss. And I’m going to win. I’m going to steamroll right over you and your culture and turn you into my private paved road.
That’s my attitude. Live with it – or don’t.