Publisher forced into modern book-burning

February 12, 2014

The Hindu reports:

Penguin India has agreed to withdraw American Indologist Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History from the Indian market following an out-of-court settlement with Delhi-based complainants, who had moved the court alleging “distortion” aimed at “denigrating Hindu traditions.”

The settlement, including the promise that the withdrawn books will be pulped, is here; the plaintiff’s legal claim is here. The complaints about the books included that it contained supposed “heresies and factual inaccuracies” and “denounced the Hindu Gods and freedom fighters of India” (Reuters) and that it supposedly “over-eroticize[d]” Hinduism (New York Times and the plaintiff’s legal claim).

As readers of this blog doubtless know, I think legal actions against blasphemy a very bad idea; religion, like other ideologies, has to be open to free inquiry, criticism, and reinterpretation. It’s sad to see this continue to happen, including in democracies, such as India. For more posts on many such past incidents in many countries, see these pages.

Thanks to Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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