The Tyranny of Silence


Available formats

Now available in paperback with a new afterword on the continuing struggle between free speech and terrorism.

When the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2005, Denmark found itself at the center of a global battle about the freedom of speech. The paper’s culture editor, Flemming Rose, defended the decision to print the 12 drawings, and he quickly came to play a central part in the debate about the limitations to freedom of speech in the 21st century. In The Tyranny of Silence, Flemming Rose writes about the people and experiences that have influenced his understanding of the crisis, including meetings with dissidents from the former Soviet Union and ex-Muslims living in Europe. He provides a personal account of an event that has shaped the debate about what it means to be a citizen in a democracy and how to coexist in a world that is increasingly multicultural, multireligious, and multiethnic.

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About the Author

Flemming Rose is a Danish journalist and author, and served as foreign affairs editor and culture editor at Jyllands-Posten. He is an international advocate for freedom of speech and regularly travels around the world to speak on the subject. In 2015 Rose was awarded the prestigious Publicist Prize from Denmark's national press club and received the Honor Award for defending free speech from the Norwegian Fritt Ord Foundation.

Praise for The Tyranny of Silence


"This is the best book I have ever read on what we lose when we lose our courage to defend free speech in all its forms, including the one I hold very dear, cartoons. If you only read one book on this subject, read this one. If you want to read two books, read this twice."
—Bob Mankoff, Cartoon Editor, The New Yorker

"This is a compelling argument for free speech and the freedom to criticize. Flemming Rose recounts his life and the incredible risks he has taken to defend a liberty threatened everywhere, not only in the Middle East and in Russia but also in the very heart of the Western world. His testimony is a moving story of courage, principle and a love of liberty."
—Mario Vargas Llosa, Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"Flemming Rose has written a passionate, intelligent, and at times alarming defense of the right to offend. Rose makes a powerful case against “grievance fundamentalism,” but The Tyranny of Silence is more than an argument: it is an act of witness by a man who has felt the lash of humanitarian and religious censorship and refuses to bow."
—Jonathan Rauch, author of Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought

"In this vivid book, Flemming Rose tells why he was responsible for publishing these cartoons a well as the long term threatening impact they have had on him. The Tyranny of Silence documents the continuous multi-dimensional war elsewhere on free speech. I hope that among other effects, The Tyranny of Silence will lead to open discussions and debates in America and other schools on the growing amount of self-censorship among individuals and societies confronted by highly combative cultures that allow no criticism of their sacred beliefs."
—From the Foreword by Nat Hentoff, syndicated columnist


Number of Pages: 
Publication Date: 
May 10, 2016