Letter to the American Library Association on the 60th Anniversary of the Publication of Fahrenheit 451
By Richard A. Widmann-To Whom It May Concern,
I take this moment on the anniversary of the publication of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to make you aware of a chilling campaign to ban books and limit freedom of expression.
I have learned this morning of a campaign by the World Jewish Congress (WJC) to stop the online bookseller Amazon.com from selling several titles due to what the WJC deems offensive content. Specifically the WJC has identified several titles on-sale that they assert promote “anti-Semitism,” “Holocaust Denial,” and “White Supremacy.” You may find the story here: http://www.jwire.com.au/news/amazon-anti-semitism-and-holocaust-denial/37750
When we speak of banned books however, we always speak of “offensive books.”
In fact, Ray Bradbury accurately predicted the situation in contemporary America where we find “political correctness” dictating our preferences on every societal level. The impulse not to “offend” has resulted in the censorship of thought which breaches the limits of recently defined “good taste.” The solution to politically incorrect thought is obvious in Bradbury’s nightmare world. In the words of Bradbury’s fictional Captain Beatty:
“Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book.”
By definition the only speech that requires protection is offensive speech. The current misguided effort on the part of the WJC may be opposed by those of us interested in intellectual freedom or may be allowed to proceed as an early step in a process that Ray Bradbury warned us of some 60 years ago.
I hope that the American Library Association will denounce this campaign to limit human judgment, understanding between people, and freedom.
Richard A. Widmann
Letter addressed to: [email protected]