Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book burnings in the 21st century


Molly White, a high school sophomore, this week wrote a stirring essay about a recent book burning inside the Chicago Public Libary, and about how "we must remember that by respecting the rights of others, we preserve our own."

Atop the webpage showing the American Library Association's list of the Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books 1990-2000 is a quote by children's author Judy Blume: "[I]t’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers."

Among the books on the list we find such classics as Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (#5), John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (#6), the Harry Potter series (#7), To Kill a Mockingbird (#41), Flowers for Algernon (#47), Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (#52), Slaughterhouse Five (#69 ), and several books by Judy Blume and Stephen King.

Image: "On Sunday evening, members of the Harvest Assembly of God Church in Penn Township [Pennsylvania] sing songs as they burn books, videos and CDs that they have judged offensive to their God." Published in the Butler Eagle, March 26, 2001."

The File Room
reported on the Harvest Assembly book-burning:
Description of Incident: The Harvest Assembly of God Church held a book, music, and videotape burning ceremony in the parking lot of their church. Approximately 30 participants gathered to burn their own possessions that they felt were disloyal to God. The event was the idea of some church youths who were studying the book of Revelations. Acts 19:19 was also cited as inspiration, given its description of how former practitioners of magic burned their books in public. Participants congregated for the ceremony wherein they deposited their popular music, literature, and movies in the fire, while singing Christian songs. Among the "objectionable material" was music from artists such as REM, Bruce Springsteen, and Foreigner. Disney movies and Harry Potter novels were destroyed for promoting sorcery. Additionally, Mormon and Jehovah's Witness materials were burned for not being truly Christian since they promoted several gods. The event was catered toward people who had already "received Christ" and wanted to demonstrate their commitment to him. That may explain the absence of pornographic materials or any discernable idols.

Results of Incident: No protesters attended the event. Reverend George Bender from the Harvest Assembly of God Church was disappointed that there were not more visitors at the burning, but felt the ceremony had worked out well.
The Post-Gazette expanded on the list of videotapes and CDs that were burned. Included were the Disney cartoons Pinnochio and Hercules, the movie Jurassic Park II, and music by artists Joe Walsh, AC/DC and Pearl Jam. Also torched — though no one was sure why — were a small, black and beige stuffed dragon and a coconut carved with the face of a pink pig.

Recent public burnings of The Da Vinci Code:Rev. Mark H. Creech, the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. recently wrote on "I am not one for advocating book burning, but I will say that The Da Vinci Code is not worth the ashes burning it would create."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 said during a commencement address to Dartmouth College in 1953:
Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as any document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.

How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is, what it teaches, and why does it have such an appeal for men, why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It's almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.

And we have got to fight it with something better, not try to conceal the thinking of our own people. They are part of America. And even if they think ideas that are contrary to ours, their right to say them, their right to record them, and their right to have them at places where they're accessible to others is unquestioned, or it's not America.
And consider with a certain trepidation these words from the 1821 play Almansor by Heinrich Heine: "Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." (German: "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.")

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so why did they buy the material in the first place? Or was it purchased specifically to be burned? Either way it supports the "evil" conglomerates creating it. I guess unless they shop lifted it.
I'm not sure if you're referring to the church people who burned their AC/DC, etc., records, or to the government agencies that burned "The Da Vinci Code," but the answer boils down to the same thing.

Some charismatic religious charlatan (in the former case, some young preacher, probably; in the latter, the Catholic Church itself) incited the feelings of guilt and fear — prime motivators of human nature — to get people to "repent" of sinful natures. Peer pressure, in both cases, was at work, too.

"Jimmy's bringing his AC/DC to burn, so I should take my Motley Crue."

"Hmm... Pakistan burned this heathen book, we should too, those damn infidels!"

Queen Mother of the Infidels
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