Jewel of Medina pledge update: should trash be burnt?

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My pledge to buy the Jewel of Medina is just one signatory away from being fulfilled, so if you haven’t already signed up, please do.

Since I launched the pledge, the publishers Gibson Square have postponed the publication of the book indefinitely, which means that the firebombers may have won. Shelina Zahra Janmohamed has also written a review of the book on the BBC Magazine.

In Shelina’s view, the book is a bodice-ripping yawn. Having read the book, I will defer to her judgement. But trash deserves the right to be published as much as quality literature. Get the trash taken off the shelves and the quality will follow. And is Islam really so fragile to be vulnerable to shallow nonsense? To be fair on Shelina, she doesn’t suggest otherwise and doesn’t call for the book for be banned. She is right to say that “If our society upholds the right to offend, then the right to be offended goes with it.” The problem is, too many people want a right not to be offended.

In my view, if you value freedom of speech and have enough spare income to afford it, you have a moral duty to buy any book under threat, no matter how dreadful it may or may not be. The book itself is meaningless, it is the precedent that is important. Can I get one more person who feels the same way before the end of the month? More to the point, can I get anyone else to set up more pledges like it?

Finally, note how spineless the BBC are – the picture of a woman reading the book accompanying Shelina’s article carries the disclaimer “Picture posed by a model” as if it would be uneccessarily inflammatory to have a picture of an actual person actually reading. Yet of course, Shelina herself has read the book, so it is completely nonsensical anyway.

4 thoughts on “Jewel of Medina pledge update: should trash be burnt?

  1. Quick question,

    Would you prefer the pledge signed only by people in the UK?

    If not then I’ll sign and get the book here in the US via straight away.



  2. I’d rather it was restricted to UKers, yes. If you CAN buy trash, you might want to be more discriminating! 🙂

  3. Okay, then I’ll let someone in the UK have the honour of being you’re ’20th’ unless there is no-one else by the 30th and then I’ll pledge to buy it next time I am back in the UK.

    If I wanted to buy trash surely I would be even less discriminating, you know really go for the worst book out there.

    An Archer novel perhaps…

  4. Hi there,

    I think your idea of an anti-burn pledge is interesting and worthy. Sherry Jones is going to be visiting for a day on my blog on November 1, and there’s an open forum (I’ve officially invited people who’ve read the book AND people who haven’t but are interested in the controversy). If you’re interested, please stop by–I think your take on fighting book banning is a fascinating one, and you’d be an interesting voice on free speech.


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