Thursday, July 18, 2013

Say No To Book Burning

I was not in Boston during the bombings and I can only imagine that it was a thousand times more nightmarish there than reading about it from here which was pretty bad itself! I don't personally know anyone who was killed or maimed or otherwise traumatized by the evil that happened there.

I am not outraged by the current issue of ROLLING STONE featuring a cover photo of the bombing "suspect" that I've already seen scores of times on the Internet. As a former bookstore manager and Librarian for nearly 3 decades, I've seen controversial magazine covers come and go. And that's just it. They go. When the next issue comes out, this one will be gone.

 But people are still hurting from the bombings, emotionally and mentally as well as physically. Perhaps more so for most! One person has called for a public burning of the ROLLING STONE issue, with results to be tweeted. I'm sorry but this is NOT an acceptable reaction!

Not a day goes by without someone bringing up the fact that the US is becoming more like Nazi Germany every day. Sometimes this is said by the same people that say the US is becoming more like the Soviet Union every day. People don't understand. They know the images but not the details.

One of the most disturbing images I have of Nazi Germany burned its way into my consciousness when I first saw pictures and read about it as a teenager. Books. Burning. Books. On fire. Ideas and thoughts dying.

It certainly didn't help that, as a comic book collector, I saw similar images of comic books being cheerfully burned in America in the 1950s, two decades after the Nazi book burnings and a full decade after the rest of the world had showed the Nazis that it was unacceptable!

Ray Bradbury was impacted strongly by the same images that I had seen. In his case, he responded with FAHRENHEIT 451. I first read it in the early seventies and it became my all-time favorite novel. The movie from 1966, although flawed, contains some striking imagery.

In the novel the totalitarian government purposely burns books because books make you THINK and thinking is not good if you're trying to keep the populace under control. The same people who complain about our country becoming more like Nazi Germany don't GET the fact that book burning-- idea destroying--is where it really starts.

If you don't want to look at this week's issue of ROLLING STONE, don't do it. Many stores have refused to carry it. I'm not thrilled with that fact either as censorship is censorship. Defending things you strongly dislike and disagree with is part and parcel of free speech. Free speech doesn't mean that only things you LIKE can be said by others.

That said, don't follow this misguided person's suggestion. Don't BURN it! If you do, what's next? Burning other things you don't like--books, magazines, CDs. It's easy to start but where does it end? In Nazi Germany it ended when they started burning PEOPLE they didn't like!

THINK for yourselves and don't overreact. I haven't looked at an issue of ROLLING STONE in years and if you don't want to, you don't have to...but if someone DOES want to, they have a right to do so.


  1. Well said, Steve. Book burning is an ignorant, knee-jerk reaction, a throwback to less ( allegedly ) enlightened times. Surely debate on any subject is a good thing... especially in a country that is always denouncing others for lack of free speech / democracy and doesn't always practice what it preaches.

    Why do the words of The Clash come back to me on these occasions?
    "You have the right to free speech
    As long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it"

  2. This is one of the most clearly manufactured examples of "outrage" I can think of. I'm astounded people let themselves get herded into this kind of overreaction to the publication of a magazine.

    I have been pretty astounded overall by the overreaction to the events in Boston almost from the get-go. There was a stoking of fear, almost like the media saw a mini-911 they could all discuss ceaselessly.

    The tragic facts are that there was likely similar death and injury statistics in the recent plane crash than at the Marathon. Not quite but in that range. We've almost already forgotten the plane crash save for the prank pulled on the TV station.

    This latest dust up about the Rolling Stone cover strikes me as some folks wanting to stoke up the embers of that overwrought emotional response yet again.

    While Congress continues to whistle past the graveyard of the yet simmering American economy, we the people are given one myopic distraction after another to keep us twiddling our thumbs.

    Rip Off