The first book I have chosen, apropos enough, is Ray Bradbury’s classic, Fahrenheit 451. This classic tells the story of a not-so-distant future in which intellectual thought and books are illegal. So-called “firemen” are charged with the duty of setting fire to books and the places in which they reside.
This is a book about censorship and those who ban books for fear of creating too much individualism and independent thought.
In late 1998, this book was removed from the required reading list of the West Marion High School in Foxworth, Mississippi. A parent complained of the use of the words “God damn” in the book. Subsequently, the superintendent instructed the the teacher to remove the book from the required reading list.
It was also banned in other schools for its “questionable themes”. One of the main themes of the story is a government which tries to suppress freedom of expression should be opposed. In the early 1950’s, when this book was written, this advocacy of opposition was seen as an evil by real world authoritarian groups (McCarthyism) that claimed to have all the answers and, like the opposition to “1984”, the opposition to Fahrenheit 451 seems to grow as the depicted society grows too similar to our own. The society that exists in the book is one of hedonism and self-centered entertainment. That’s a fairly uncomfortable parallel to today’s increased use of entertainment in place of learning and culture. Ray Bradbury has stated that this dumbing down was one of the concerns he was trying to raise.
*to read the previous discussion thread visit my original posting of this article on Facebook*
Sources: American Library Association
© 2011 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions