Glaringly missing in a history of killed cartoons is one by Doug Marlette that sparked Muslim outrage a few years ago. I know it's shocking that Muslims were outraged, but try to stay focused.
The cartoon depicted a jihadi driving a Ryder truck with a nuclear bomb in back with the caption: What Would Muhammad Drive?
Wallis says he fought unsuccessfully for the cartoon's inclusion, but "I know why it didn't run and you know why it didn't run." He did note with admiration that Norton was the only publishing house of 15 he approached that had the "gumption" to touch the book.
What brave American publishers we have. It's not as if the book was going to be distributed at Border's in Sadr City or Kabul--it's for an American Audience. I can see why the cartoon is offensive to some...and that's the whole point of the book. Why is Norton so interested in abiding by Sharia law?
Many doubtless would agree with Norton's decision, figuring that the possibility of mortal threat is a pretty good reason not to publish a controversial cartoon. But, in fact, it is the very reason to publish.
Not to be gratuitously in your face, but to be purposefully in your face. To make clear that free speech -- even drawn opinion -- not only trumps special interests, but also requires a bold and sometimes insensitive defense.
Instead, by capitulating to intimidation (even if we call it sensitivity), we embolden the forces that have no interest in freedom. We telegraph to Islamist totalitarians, whose ultimate goal is subjugation of the West, that death threats and riots will silence us into submission -- the literal meaning of "Islam."
In the country that helped midwife free speech into civilization, that may be the definition of irresponsible.