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A Brief History of Blasphemy: Liberalism, Censorship and the "Satanic Verses" Paperback – June, 1990

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What is blasphemy? Who is guilty? Why the Satanic Verses should be banned, and why liberals are the cause of the anti-Islamic backlash.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Orwell Press (June 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0951592203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0951592205
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,466,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Walters on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Richard Webster's A Brief History of Blasphemy, written in response to the controversy over The Satanic Verses, is an attack on Salman Rushdie and the principle of free speech. It is a self-important and smugly written little book. Despite presenting himself as someone making a plea for religious tolerance and understanding, Webster presumptuously refers to "our religious tradition" when he means Protestant Christianity, effectively excluding the non-Protestant Christian reader and giving the lie to his claim that he is exposing western prejudice against and condescension toward non-Christians. Yet he manages to criticize The International Committee for the Defence of Salman Rushdie and his Publishers for their supposed "unconscious adoption of a Christian perspective."

A similar failure to see that his judgments return to their sender shows when he declares that he fears "the machine-gun bullets of liberal self-righteousness" more than the bombs of Islamic fundamentalists, one of the most foolish statements I have ever seen in a published book. If comparing support for the right to blaspheme against Islam to physical violence isn't self-righteous, then what is? Webster seems so desperate to remove all blame from Islam that he is prepared to commit almost any kind of rhetorical excess against its critics, even to imply that no matter what atrocities Islamic fundamentalists may be guilty of, they cannot be worse than the rhetoric of those awful liberal supporters of free speech.

Webster argues that it is right to censor The Satanic Verses, on the grounds that it helped drive allegedly "moderate" Muslims into the hands of the radical extremists.
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