“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.”

reminds me that this is Banned Books Week. So go out and tell a censor to get bent.

The quote in the subject line is, of course, Heinrich Heine, and translates as “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”

I believe it’s time to re-visit a couple of my favorite banned and challenged books, Brave New World (and Huxley’s follow-up, Brave New World Revisited) and Nineteen Eighty Four… both of which seem quite relevant these days, yes?

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11 comments so far

  1. chilayse on

    I despised Brave New World..possibly because when we read it in school we weren’t allowed to actually DISCUSS anything..it was agree with the teacher and try to figure what he’s going to say ahead of time or you’re WRONG. -.- Even if you read it somewhere credible, if it didn’t agree with the teacher..it was wrong.

    Censorship bothers me a lot..>.> Particularly as a gamer..where people want to ban violent games. You know, the games which have prominent 17+ labels on them. I don’t play them but I believe that I shouldn’t have a smaller choice of games to play based on someone else’s idea of what is acceptable. The same thing goes for books and movies and everything else in life.

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      My copy of Brave New World is thick with little yellow Post-It notes with my thoughts on individual passages and the like. I haven’t annotated my copy of Nineteen Eighty Four yet, mainly because it’s a US first edition (so far as I can tell, anyway) and I’m afraid of even getting the Post-It stickum on it.

      I’m not quite a First Amendment absolutist, but I’m close. I believe the right to free speech implies the responsibility to respect the right of someone to say for themselves and for no one else that they don’t want to hear it. I believe that self-censorship is the only acceptable censorship–if you’re agin’ it, don’t read/look at it. I believe that there are light-years of difference between “Shut up, I don’t want to hear it” and “Shut up, you can’t say that.” I believe book burning is infinitely more obscene than anything in those books. I believe Don Wildmon and Peggy Charron have done a great deal more damage than good.

      One always has the right to say they don’t want to read/see/hear something. One never has the right to say that for someone else (who isn’t their minor child/ward, anyway).

      • chilayse on

        There are always obnoxious people who will believe what they believe should be censored is what everyone should have too. That without them you’d have no moral guidance.

        • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

          I will never understand those people. There is nothing incompatible between being moral and being free. And I can think of few things more immoral than restricting freedom in morality’s name.

  2. avon_deer on

    Book burning is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge.

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      And what’s more disturbing is that it still happens, even in allegedly “civilized” countries.

      Some groups now, forbidden to hold book burnings because the open flames violate city codes, now have “book cuttings” instead. The twisted ruminations of the diseased and tiny mind never cease to amaze…

  3. gmhelwig on

    And do you know what the most banned book is?

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      This past year, it was a sex education book called “It’s Perfectly Normal”. The most frequently challenged of the last full decade (1900-2000) were:

      1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
      2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
      3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
      4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
      5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
      6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
      7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
      8. Forever by Judy Blume
      9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
      10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

      Now, if the banners and burners were serious about keeping violence and sex out of the libraries, why don’t they ever try to have the Bible pulled? You’ve got murder, torture, violence, rape, extramarital sex, and–depending on your theories on David and Jonathan–homosexuality. And all in one book! Well, the Old Testament, mainly, but Revelation is pretty wicked in points.

      • gmhelwig on

        The most challenged book, of all time, is the Bible.

        Which indicates to me that censorship will come at us from all sides.

        • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

          Ah, perhaps in other countries. I was going by the ALA list, and I can’t think of any attempts to ban the Bible in relatively recent history in this country. Although I’m marshalling my data for the next challenge in Franklin County–if there’s an equivalent challenge I can raise against the Bible, I will.

          As I recall, challenges to the Bible in Christianized countries were usually one sect challenging the edition used by another sect… or, in the case of the early Catholic Church, trying to keep it out of the hands of hoi polloi altogether. They generally weren’t bannings and challenges as we know them today.

  4. jayteeone on

    You can have my “Tom Sawyer” when you pry it from my cold dead hand!!! And be careful it has the “n” word in it. My parents when they owned a book store celebrated banned book week by displaying the banned books prominently in the front window and showed that they were indeed for sale.


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