Please also consider the issues raised in my later
As one writer of controversial material to
another, I second your support of Salman Rushdie, author of The
Satanic Verses, as he faces fanatical Muslim assassins.
Regardless of Mr. Rushdie's apparently
inflammatory style, I doubt his otherwise minor literary work
would budge one true believer from his or her faith in Islam.
Just as the Prophet Mohammed demonstrated tolerance towards
those of other faiths -- even those who had persecuted him
personally -- the true American spirit recognizes that to drive
free speech underground is unjust and often self-defeating.
To the Islamic faithful, I implore denunciation
of violence and censorship. Defend your faith with reason, not
irrationality -- according to your Koran: "The ink of
the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr."
To my fellow Westerners, I warn that we not take
too much of a holier-than-thou attitude. I and undoubtedly
countless other writers have suffered the "assassination" of
our careers, whenever our thoughts on paper have offended the
powers-that-be, such as the powerful petrochemical lobby, whom I
have bucked heads with [in my works presenting biological
controls as alternatives to chemical pesticides]; the
self-appointed textbook censors, whom many publishers routinely
defer to; and many television executives, who relegate women,
minorities, and alternative life styles to stereotypical, token
Although the booksellers should not be forced to
expose their employees or customers to a lethal risk, I would
hope that the American spirit that tells censors -- especially
terrorists -- to "go f*** themselves" (self-censored) is as
alive in 1989 as it was in 1776.
Finally, we really should pity instead of hate
those who won't think for themselves but choose instead to let
a dictator do so for them: Regardless of the sin of Adam and
Eve, was not God's first gift to humankind a free will?