It’s hard to think of a more comprehensive way to announce to the world your supreme ignorance than promoting, condoning or engaging in the burning of books. Throughout history people have burned all kinds of books but all for the same reasons – suppression and condemnation of certain beliefs, ideas and values.
Books on astrology were burned in ancient Rome. Martin Luther loved burning books. The Nazis couldn’t get enough of burning books. Neither, it has to be said, could the United States. Would it be a surprise to learn that an organisation called the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice burned more than 15 tonnes of books in the late 19th century? That is but a drop in the ocean. The Land of the Free has a long tradition of burning books, from comics in the 1940s to Beatles books in the 1960s.
And they’re still at it, publicly burning Harry Potter books, Twilight books, LGBTQ books, anti-climate change books, even non-approved bibles. There doesn’t seem to be much that someone, somewhere doesn’t want to burn.
For the record, I am against burning books. I mean, come on. Does it even have to be said?
We’ve been doing it for thousands of years – have we still not figured out a way to deal with ideas we disagree with? Some books are not worthy of our time or attention. We might think some are vile, disgusting, stupid and dangerous. But should we burn them? I think most of us would agree that we shouldn’t. Because burning books is bad.
But what about magazines? Is it ever okay to burn a magazine?
What would happen (and I’m just spitballing, here) if we gathered up every kids’ magazine in the country and threw them in a big fire? Would that be so bad? Would we, as a country, be worse off? Would we (again, just spitballing) be, in fact, better off?
Up and down the country parents are being harried and harassed into buying these magazines. Parents have the right to say no, and in most cases they do, but the mental stranglehold these magazines have over the younger members of our society is deeply concerning. Things couldn’t be worse if the producers of these magazines all belong to a devil-worshipping cult designed to brainwash our precious, innocent younglings.
Imagine this. A father walks into his local shop with his two young kids. He just wants to pick up a few things for dinner. As they enter they walk past the magazine rack – it’s right by the front door, no way to avoid it. Although it’s a small section, the majority of the magazines are for kids. Right at their eye-level, too. Bright, colourful magazines, with shiny trinkets, toys, treats and “free” gifts. Magazines such as Pink (€8.63), Hello Kitty (€8.65), Girl Talk (€8.63), I Love Unicorns (€8.63) and Cute (€8.63). The mystery of why so many of them cost €8.63 will be investigated at a later date. One suspects the figure has a subliminal, occult-related meaning behind it.
The father’s daughter asks if she can get a magazine. The father says no, elaborating she can’t get a magazine every time she goes to the shop. Plus, he adds (forgetting once again the futility of trying to reason with a child), you could buy a book for that price. His son chimes in – so can we get a book? The father, getting exasperated now, says no – nobody is getting a book or a magazine or anything like that.
Then the daughter says, but you promised last time. The father thinks: sh*t. He can’t remember making that promise, but it’s very likely he did say she could get a magazine next time. Classic short-term solution. They’re at a pivotal junction now; they’ve entered the endgame. The father has a decision to make – break a forgotten promise made in the heat of the moment to avoid this very situation, or cave and buy a stupid magazine. He sticks to his guns. No magazine. He’s sorry, but maybe next time (this father is incapable of learning from past mistakes).
It is the wrong decision. The daughter’s eyes roll back in her head and she begins to levitate. The earth beneath their feet shudders; the light bulbs above their head explode in a bright shower of sparks, before the whole supermarket is swallowed by a giant sinkhole.
Now ask yourself – is that the kind of world you want to live in?