“…some people, especially people who don’t like to read, use books as weapons in service to this objective.”
This comes from a comment Roger Sutton made over at his blog in response to a question that came up as a conversation thread at Child_Lit concerning the difficulty some MLIS students have with promoting books whose contents they cannot fully endorse.
I’ve been trying to pin this thought down for a long time. It reminds me of an old bumper sticker I used to see on the back of VW micro-buses in Berkeley (always a VW bus) that said “Those who have abandoned their dreams will discourage yours.” Back then I was teaching and it seemed to apply most to what I saw in the public schools; classes led people who had “settled” on teaching as opposed to following their dreams. That is not an indictment of all teachers, just a vast majority of the ones I met, the ones who had tenure that were keeping us young teachers from finding positions, the ones who were our department heads, and shop stewards, who in turn set the tone.
Roger’s point works equally well with any other art or media, which is why it rings so true. Those who do not like, listen to or understand music will use that dislike to determine what others should or should not listen to. To pick a few obvious examples, I believe Tipper Gore and Mary Whitehouse understand this point. Those who do not create art are often its harshest critics. Hitler, a failed art student, called much of what was being produced in Berlin in the 30’s “degenerate.” So there you go.
I’m thinking it might be a good idea to make an easy-to-remove sticker for books that are typically banned or otherwise censored in some degree that says something along the lines of Woody Guthrie’s “This Machine Kills Fascists.” I think even using Woody’s phrase might be enough; calling a book a machine and striking fear into those who believe they’ll be struck dead by a book’s contents could settle some folks down.
Or it could ratchet the whole mess up even more.