For much of our 30-minute interview, Gary Hull, a Duke lecturing fellow in sociology, and I discussed academic freedom, the challenges of self-publishing and the Enlightenment.
Toward the end of the conversation, I asked Hull, who recently self-published "Muhammad: The 'Banned' Images" and directs Duke's Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace," what he would say to Muslims offended by his decision to include controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
“Join the Enlightenment,” he replied.
He went on to discuss how different people are offended by different things. What matters, he said, is not that people are offended, but how they react.
"You don’t respond by saying, 'I don’t like what you said, therefore I’m going to throw a grenade at you'," he said.
He added: "If I were a serious Muslim, would I be offended by some of these images, especially the cartoons? Absolutely."
Hull said he thinks the Muslim response will be guided by what he sees as a religion stuck in the past:
"The problem here is that of all the world's religions, Islam was the one least touched by the Renaissance. It never had its maniacal attachment to faith and force—just using guns and swords against enemies—it never had that tempered by the Enlightenment. You know, Voltaire, the Jeffersonian view that the prioper response to opposing ideology is to present your own ideology and to have arguments. Judaism and Christianity both obviously were tempered by Enlightenment thinking. Islam never had that kind of Enlightenment element injected into it. And so today of all the world's great religions… it is the most fascistic and terror-mongering because it doesn’t even have that semblance of respect for reasoned discourse... It’s no accident that worldwide terrorism is motivated by fundamentalist Muslims."