Book Banning: How It’s Done

One of the more farcical claims that Democrats have leveled against Governor Sarah Palin is that as mayor, she “banned” books from the Wasilla, Alaska public library. The claim was a complete fabrication, and anyway, a mayor has no power to “ban” a book. Suppressing a work of literature in our time requires something quite different:

Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorist command yesterday foiled an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to kill the publisher of a forthcoming novel featuring sexual encounters between the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride.

Early yesterday armed undercover officers arrested three men after a petrol bomb was pushed through the door of the north London home of the book’s publisher.

The Metropolitan police said the target of the assassination plot, the Dutch publisher Martin Rynja, had not been injured. …

Security officials believe Rynja was targeted for assassination because his firm, Gibson Square, is preparing to publish a romantic novel about Aisha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad. The Jewel of Medina, by the first-time American author Sherry Jones, describes an imaginary sex scene between the prophet and his 14-year-old wife.

The book’s American publisher, Random House, was not so bold:

It was withdrawn from publication in America last month after its publisher there, Random House, said it feared a violent reaction by “a small radical segment” of Muslims. It said “credible and unrelated sources” had warned that the book could incite violence.

That’s how you go about suppressing a book. No one seems to mind much, though, when the real thing happens.

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