The producers of a book about a series of famous works of art decided unanimously that it was unnecessary to include any pictures of the works of art being discussed.
[The pictures are] freely available on the Internet and can be accurately described in words, Mr. Donatich said, so reprinting them could be interpreted easily as gratuitous.
Can you imagine this being said about a book on, say, Seurat? Could you describe in words adequately the visual impact of Pissaro, or how it differed from Monet? No? Pictures are a visual medium - I would argue that they are failures if they can be adequately and completely described in words alone.
Of course, the quote above is not about an art book, it is a book from Yale University Press about the group of the 12 Mohamed cartoons drawn by that Danish cartoonist. Someone (actually an entire publishing staff) actually thinks it is a good idea to write an entire book about a set of visual media without reproducing the visual media in the book. Incredible
Ironically, the cartoons are freely available on the Internet ONLY because some Internet site proprietors have more intestinal fortitude than Yale. If everyone took the same stance as Yale, they would not be freely available. And since most of the major media made the same editorial choice not to publish the cartoons at the time of the controversy, the likelihood that a reader has not actually seen the pictures is much higher than, say, for a Seurat book. In this sense, Yale had a greater, not a lesser, obligation to publish the cartoons in the book.
Besides, to see the cartoons is to say, "WTF is all the fuss about." I mean they are bland, bland, bland by the scale of either American or European political cartooning.
Seriously, the only reasons someone would want to not publish these cartoons is to help hide just what an astounding over-reaction it was to make much of a fuss over them in the first place. Seriously, these things are the Emperor's new clothes, except that a few folks calling them out for being naked still haven't stopped a majority of the intelligentsia from continuing to pretend.
This is also ironic given the really, really low bar Yale has set for art in the past.