Before Charlie Hebdo: The Danish Cartoons That Shook the World, with Jytte Klausen

January 12, 2015


The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo was a human atrocity, as well as an assault on free expression. Yet numerous prominent news publications are still refusing to show the very Hebdo cartoons at the center of the story. Last year, in the midst of nebulous threats, Sony had removed their satirical film from theaters. How can we avoid yielding control to terrorism with censorship without putting ourselves in danger and subjecting groups to ethnic or religious discrimination?

Our guest this week is Jytte Klausen, a political scholar and professor at Brandeis University. In 2009 she published The Cartoons that Shook the World, a book about the publication of the 2005 “Danish cartoons” depicting the Prophet Muhammed, and the outcry of anger and protest they sparked in some corners of the Muslim world. Much to Klausen’s surprise, Yale University Press refused to include the very cartoons she was discussing. Klausen joins us to talk about the precariousness of the struggle for free expression, and the balance we strike between security and freedom.

Special episode note: Josh Zepps says during the show that he suspects the Center for Inquiry was among the only U.S. organizations to reproduce the “Danish cartoons,” and this is true. Our magazine, Free Inquiry, published the cartoons in its February-March 2006 issue, and was at the time the only U.S. publication to do so. That article is available here.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Cartoons That Shook the World by Jytte Klausen
Center for Inquiry's publication of the Danish cartoons