Tyranny of the Silence. The Story of Flemming Rose

Flemming Rose

Flemming Rose was born in Denmark and grew up in Copenhagen. He majored in Russian language and literature in the University of Copenhagen. Through his life he has worked as a correspondent and editor for Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten newspapers. Later he became an active advocate of free speech and published his own book “Tyranny of the Silence”, which concerns the worldwide free speech suppression issue.Flemming Rose tyranny of the silence

Issues of Diversity

Rose states that the European Union is at crisis, for it cannot control excessive diversity in terms of modern globalization. The melting pot of cultural diversity creates a serious threat for freedom of speech. Certainly, in comparison with the 17th, 18th and even the beginning of 20th century the levels of free speech are higher. Yet if we compare current situation with the one which occurred 30 years ago, the status quo of free speech is in decline.

Some countries like Russia and China have rigid speech control, yet such tendencies are becoming increasingly popular in Western Europe. EU enforces policies which restrict the freedom of speech and label many statements as propaganda of hate. People who have different opinions that do not coincide with the “accepted” are instantly claimed as racist or xenophobic.

Many countries have criminalized criticism of:

  • Holocaust (Germany)
  • Armenian Genocide (Denmark)
  • Criticism of Ukrainian freedom fighters (Ukraine)
  • Criticism of the behavior of the Soviet Union during the World War 2 (Russia)

Flemming’s main point is that protecting historical memory through legislation is a truly authoritarian idea. The criminalization of the “glorification of terror” is in fact a euphemism, which in reality means criminalization of individual’s opinion. Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders is the kind of Soviet Union censorship style.Flemming Rose tyranny of the silence

The Cartoon Scandal

Flemming has commissioned the publishing of the drawings by Prophet Muhammad in the Jylands-Posten newspaper. The reason for such action was that many creative artists refused to publish their cartoons because they feared Muslim violence, and they were right. Allah’s revelation through Prophet Muhammad can never be criticized; in fact any Islamic religious dogma can never be criticized.

The result was the outburst of violence from the Islamic fundamentalists, the Charlie Hebdo attack. The Cartoons and the Islamic bloodshed created a public uproar. Of course, the result was ongoing free speech suppression.

Flemming Rose is a defender of the liberal enlightenment values and an advocate of global tolerance. He argues that Catholics and Protestants slaughtered each other for many centuries, yet they learned to coexist in peace. It’s crucial to understand that tolerance is living alongside with something that you don’t like or don’t understand. It is the core value of liberty – to have the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Today the governments of the EU and other countries in the world are both part of the problem, and part of the solution. Governments need to remove constraining “hate propaganda” policies and encourage freedom of speech in the entire world.

Background and Bustle Around the “Banned” Images

I came up with this book at first when I noticed an article in The New York Times which had described the ban of Muhammad’s Images in the new book by Yale Press. That time there were a lot of serious rumours and actions within that situation. It was said, Yale University together with Press decided to do so, because of the consultation results (authorities and diplomacy dealing with Islam questions recommended to reject those illustrations). Although, those 12 ‘banned’ pictures had been already printed in the Danish edition few years before (September 2005). Moreover, it was considered that all illustrations including those for children book made by an Islamic artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad would be prohibited by the Yale Press as well.

Banned Images

The “Banned” Images by Muhammad is a book written as an answer to “The Cartoons that Shook the World” (2009) book which refused to publish Muhammad’s cartoons. Both books were released almost simultaneously in 2009. This decision was announced by the director of Yale University Press, John Donatich, arguing that it could cause serious problems connecting with the “risk of instigating violence”. From his telephone conversation, the decision upon those images withdrawal was not initiated by him only and recommendation to remove historical images that are “overwhelming and unanimous” was developed by the meeting of experts in that sphere. banned images

Content of the Book

The “Banned” Images is first of all about the First Amendment rights and free speech. It includes 31 illustrations of Muhammad. It is aimed at depicting a vast variety of Muslims’ prohibitions and ‘bans’, hence it has some political and religious issues. It also includes some images drown by non-Muslim origin artists which get through the development of Islamic world. All pictures are full-size and of a good quality which perfectly illustrates a colour transfer. There are pictures by Gustave Dore, William Blake, Salvador Dali, Ottoman, and Mughal empires.

Sponsorship of the Book edition

A curious thing is that introduction of this book done by Dr. Hull. I consider it as a great intro to the controversial book which is controversial itself. Hull was the Director of the Program at his native Duke University (Values and Ethics in the Marketplace). In his intro, he sharply says about the university and its graduates (Nathan Hale, for instance, as he was hung by the British for his speech). In 2008 he enhanced those pictures (Danish cartoons) appearance in one of Flemming Rose. He is also a well known due to his works in local and international editions such as San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes.com, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Barron’s.

In November 2009, exactly due to the efforts of Professor Gary Hull Images were published in The “Banned”. Hull had owned a Voltaire Press which sponsored the book edition. So far from the Hull publication, a picture book by Muhammad is an ‘errata to the bowdlerized version of Klausen’s book’.