To burn, or not to burn a book.

Before I begin, let me point out that I in no way support the destruction of copies of Catcher in the Rye, Alice in Wonderland, and any of the recent reports showing how wrong headed the war on Iraq is, despite the fact that such mass-burning get a lot of cash to publishers. :smiley:

However, I feel like burning a book. Not because its subject matter enrages me, but because it leads the viewer to a false conclosion, and I don’t want people exposed to this. (yes, I am fully aware the same could be said about the Harry Potter books :mad: ) I paid one dollar for it in a bookstore on the other side of the coast, in Olympia, Washington. I figured it was a good deal. Wrong.

It concerns the military, and homosexuality. Prior to buying it, I opened it at random, and found a perfectly devastating paragraph disarming objections to homosexual rights. Later, I read the book and found that it distinguished between the arguments used against gay rights for civilians, and those for military personnel. This is a very important distinction. However, this still does not overcome the problems with the book.

However, the book came to the conclusion that equal rights ought not to apply to members of the military. In reaching that idea, it ignored the actual effect booting out gay members would have (and has had) on the functionality of a military, and took for granted that it was possible for people to stop being gay. All through reading the book, I keep waiting for it to address certain points, and when it did, it addressed them inadequately.

What I would like to ask people is: Should I go about burning my personal copy of the book, rather then giving it to the book thing of Baltimore , so that it does not fall into the hands of those who would use it for evil? Or should I not burn it? Acid? A shredder? Give it away after all? Are book simply sacred, in and of themselves?

P.S. I tossed the book into a corner of my room. I do not have the title memorized, or here with me now.

I don’t see anything wrong with burning a book, if the book belongs to you and you find it so objectionable that you don’t want it to fall into someone else’s hands. I did this once myself, with a religious text that I found alarming and potentially dangerous. I chucked the damned thing into the fireplace and watched as it turned into shimmering, self-eating leaves, then dead ashes. Thought about Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 the whole time. It was a memorable experience.

Recycle it.

Seriously, even more worthy tomes are tossed away everyday, IMO one has to take into account several factors to make an exception on deliberately destroying a distasteful book: it is your property, there are other copies of it, and the recycling is done not as part of a concerted effort to intimidate another group. Due to mass production, book burnings are made now not to destroy the offending books, but as a way to intimidate others.

So please recycle it, burnings are so last century and they are evil in a different way.

So, that’s one for “I don’t see anything wrong with burning a book.” and one for "burnings are so last century "

I see more reasons to go with burning, so far. Anyone else?

Burning can be very satisfying. One of my required classes in college was an American Lit, and we ended up doing critical analysis of a Robert Frost collection. By the end of the semester I was so filled with bullshit interpretations of Frost verbiage that I loathed the work. On a snowy december morning I stood before a crackling fireplace, book in hand, and chose the forbidden path.
It felt GOOD!

I suppose, 25 years later, with BS long forgotten, that I should return to Frost, and see if he had anything worthwhile to say. Lots of people do find value in his work.

Does this help?

Thanks, but that is a bit of overkill. I just figured I would carpet-cutter the spine, and put the leaves into a fireplace.

I think you should put it in a box somewhere. 50 years from now, your grandchildren can read it in horrified amazement at how ridiculous the people who opposed gay marriage were.

Wouldn’t you love to have a book arguing against interracial marriage printed in the 1950s? What an amusing little novelty it would be!

I don’t see anything wrong with burning a book, if the book belongs to you and you find it so objectionable that you don’t want it to fall into someone else’s hands.[/.quote]

Not to pick a fight or anything but that is the justification anybody uses to burn any book. That it’s too dangerous to allow the ideas within to spread.

That sounds like a good idea, for most books whose view I oppose, but this one is reasonable, minus one or two points, and the fact that it reviews the evidence, and comes to an ass-backwards conclusion.

**wolfman **: Please reread my OP.

I was repsonding to the single comment of pinkfreud.

This reminds me of a Hunter S. Thompson story from Rolling Stone’s tribute issue. A writing teacher took his students to meet Thompson. They all had copies of his books to be autographed. He signed them all, then he lined the books up against a tree. He shot a hole through each one with a pistol before giving them back.

I just now leafed through that issue of RS (March 24, 2005) to find details of this story. I couldn’t find it. I hope I didn’t hallucinate it.

I wasn’t referring to public book-burnings where people make grand and often ridiculous statements of outrage, but to the private satisfaction of getting rid of something that one views as a piece of crap. I love books. But I don’t think there is anything holy or special about their bookitude.

Another vote for recycling. Let it be transformed into something useful.

I would never burn a book. It’s practically against my religion.

The only thing I can recommend is to find every place that sells the book and write a bad review.

I’m sorry, the mere thought of burning an actual book gives me the chills. Throughout history people have used the exact reasoning you did to burn books they found objectionable.

That true. However, they’ve also tried to make it difficult or impossible for you or I to read other copies of the book by banning. Really, it’s the banning that makes me more concerned - burning is simply a symbol.

On the other hand, it’s a powerful symbol. There’s something very profound in watching a fire, any fire. There’s something even more profound in watching a transformational fire, a destructive fire or a purging fire. It literally is part of my religion to burn things which are symbolic of things we’d like to see destroyed.

And as long as the OP isn’t going to try and stop you or I from reading another copy of this same book, then I don’t see the harm in burning his own personal copy. It may be quite cathartic and psychologically useful.

[side note] A friend of mine is a librarian, and tells me it’s nearly impossible to throw out books the library no longer wants. They sell as many as they can, try and shlep off others to other libraries, and are inevitably left with 45 copies of Shingle Your Own Outhouse which no one wants. They’ll put them in the dumpster or recycle bin, only to have patrons fish them out and bring them back to the circulation desk. As a result, he and other librarians bring home these poor orphaned books for use as firestarters. Seriously. [/side note]

Of course you’re right, WhyNot. I just personally couldn’t do it.

Duuuuuuuude! That’s freakin’ awesome! Wish I’d have thought of that when I was a kid!

Burning a book to “hide” something from somebody is ridiculous. Like people can’t figure out things for themselves? Believe it or not, I can read a book on the Holocaust, and gasp, not actually want to setup a mini-caust in my back yard! However, if you want to burn books to save space, then whatever. It’s all in your motives.

Please forgive me for this horrible misquoting of Dorothy Parker who said something to the effect of:

“This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly,
It is to be hurled with great force.”

I find there to be something different between burning your OWN book as a symbol of eradicating the offensive bigotry it espouses, and mass burnings of things as a means of censorship.

By all means, burn your own book. Burn you ugly clothes while you’re at it! If it doesn’t involve keeping others from freedom to read crap then I say bring on the pyromania!