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Is it almost 2002....or 1802?
December 31, 2001 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Is it almost 2002....or 1802? Regardless, it's a good time for a book burning. And this isn't the first time a congregation has taken offence to Harry Potter, nor will it be the last, I'm sure. I don't even know what to say, other than....sigh.
posted by videodrome (24 comments total)

 
Sieg Heil Mr. Brock.
posted by thewittyname at 1:01 PM on December 31, 2001


We should get rid of the movies. Not the books.
posted by lostbyanecho at 1:14 PM on December 31, 2001


Sieg Heil

Is it always warranted to associate book-burning with censorship, and conclude fascism? This group is burning their personal property as a sacrifice—the article mentions a previous holy fire, to clense parishoners homes of objects that stood between them and God. It's all very world-refusing and ascestic; a Christian and American tradition since Puritanism.

There's a great big difference between an official policy of censoring and destroying the intellectual products of a minority group, and destroying books for personal satisfaction.
posted by rschram at 1:22 PM on December 31, 2001


"Is it always warranted to associate book-burning with censorship, and conclude fascism?"

Not always. In this case, however, it's perfectly warranted.

"These books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks, and sorcerers, and those things are an abomination to God and to me*," Brock, 74, told Reuters.

I'm glad the good Reverend checked in with God first, otherwise that would be a very fascist statement.

*emphasis mine
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:43 PM on December 31, 2001


as a library employee, the Harry Potter outrage is nothing new. However, to those of you who are not aware of the book burnings, bannings, and general hoopla centered around these great little books, you might find this site helpful.
posted by bradth27 at 1:52 PM on December 31, 2001


" ...It's all very world-refusing and ascestic; a Christian and American tradition since Puritanism..."

This seems far more like the anger and bitterness of a nasty, humorless man than an expression of the asceticism of the Christian mystic. (And its probably appropriate to mention that the Puritan tradition you speak of not only burned books about witches - but at one point decided burning witches themselves was morally justifiable ... so I wouldn't exactly see that particular tradition as a very good grounds from which to argue the case here ...).

"These books encourage our youth to learn more about witches, warlocks, and sorcerers, and those things are an abomination to God and to me," Brock, 74, told Reuters. "

I'd answer with ...

"This book burning encourages our youth to become hard, utterly intolerant adults, and to approach anything that makes them uncomfortable by actively seeking to destroy it. It affirms the notion that the proper attitude towards anything that falls outside of the scope of their own particular understanding of 'God' is virulent, public condemnation."

I wonder if there is any single idea that has caused more trouble, more violence, death, and destruction on the planet earth than the one that might be summarized as, "I know what GOD thinks, what HE likes and doesn't like, and who HE condemns, and because I've got absolute certainty in that knowledge, it justifies ...(name the behavior ... from the mildest to the most monstrous)".
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:56 PM on December 31, 2001


As a former library employee, anything that will pull kids away from the tube is great.

I wonder if anyone threw their playstations, computers, VCRs or their televisions into the fire? You'd think that more 'evil' messages would be sent by those devices than through any other media.
posted by SpecialK at 1:57 PM on December 31, 2001


Yet another reason Christians shouldn't be allowed to carry matches. And yes, I am generalizing and simplifying, just like the aforementioned Christian group. It's kind of silly when people overvalue their own moral rectitude, isn't it?
posted by sunsolid at 2:02 PM on December 31, 2001



Is it always warranted to associate book-burning with censorship, and conclude fascism?


Yes it is. Look at it this way, they could be silently disposing of the books in the garbage or even collectively recycling them, but instead they decided to go the attention getting and temper flaring route of burning. I feel sorry for all the kids in attendance who will be breathing in industrial inks and dyes.

No its not an official fascist purge, but if they don't want to be compared to Nazi's they shouldn't be acting like them.
posted by skallas at 2:03 PM on December 31, 2001


Brock has it all wrong. God just told me that he actually likes Harry Potter very much. There, what better proof could anyone ask for?

God also says that Brock is a blasphemer and that all good Christians must set bags of dog poo on fire on Brock's doorstep. Onward Christian soldiers!
posted by homunculus at 2:24 PM on December 31, 2001


Curious to juxtapose Mr. Brock's perspective with that of the Pope (I'm not Catholic, but this statement is really quite moving).
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:25 PM on December 31, 2001


Yes it is. Look at it this way, they could be silently disposing of the books in the garbage or even collectively recycling them, but instead they decided to go the attention getting and temper flaring route of burning.

well, that would be the sensible thing, but burning things as an act of purification is not an uncommon ritual - quite pagan, actually. Still, that would be if someone had a personal emotional connection to something but was getting over it or giving it up - I wonder if these folks aren't specifically buying copies of a book they already considered evil in order to set it aflame.
posted by mdn at 2:44 PM on December 31, 2001


According to the CNN version of the story: Across the street, protesters chanting "Stop burning books" stretched in a line a quarter of a mile long.
posted by gimonca at 3:07 PM on December 31, 2001


"...all good Christians must set bags of dog poo on fire on Brock's doorstep."

Now that's a crusade I can get behind. Although he would probably just throw a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:07 PM on December 31, 2001


Alamogordo Daily News: ...Harry Potter books, though the epicenter of the burning, were not the only literature put to the flame. Other books, including novels written by fantasy pioneer J.R.R. Tolkein, "Star Wars" material and "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" met a fiery fate. Popular fashion magazines such as "Cosmopolitan" and "Young Miss," and various adult magazines, were also burned. Even a ouiji {sic} board was tossed on the fire. One protester displayed a Stephen King novel she allegedly rescued from destruction...
posted by Carol Anne at 3:13 PM on December 31, 2001


One protester displayed a Stephen King novel she allegedly rescued from destruction.

Probably Firestarter.

I just knew these people weren't only going after Potter. That Shakespeare guy has absolutely destroyed our modern society.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:33 PM on December 31, 2001


What would be worse? Let the parish artificially create moral/consumer conformity among themselves, who all seem to agree with one another. Or, stop them from burning books, thus use the police to artificially create conformity by limiting the rights of a minority group. (And don't try to tell me that these people aren't a minority; they're obviously crazy.)

In this case, I have to say that burning books is protected speech.

Yes, it probably not all that wonderful that the founders and current president of the US are pleasure-hating biblical literalists, but their action has a context in which it becomes more understandable. Putting something in context doesn't make it right, but it does make one's perception of it less obscured. As such, being against bonfires is like being against church buildings and bible classes.
posted by rschram at 5:28 PM on December 31, 2001


Wow! God tells me to burn things too!
posted by fuq at 5:47 PM on December 31, 2001


In this case, I have to say that burning books is protected speech.

And so is the protesting outside. I don't think people are responding to this because of neo-fascist fears nor are they calling for a legal ban to book burning they're responding to an ideology of hate and intolerance.

Its important to point these people out as the pariahs that they've turned themselves into and provide the reasons why. The complaints and protests are very much justified and are not necesssarily calling for some kind of solution but want to be heard as well as this seemingly orchestrated media event. Now we all know who Pastor Brock is and his 400 member congregation are.

This is mostly speculation, but maybe if there were more organized and opposing voices certain groups that practice hate and intolerance wouldn't have such social and political pull like the Religious Right does. Afterall, opposing the church and god's appointed voices is a fairly modern concept and the stigmas against atheists or agnostics both also modern ideologies, still exists.

Yes, it probably not all that wonderful that the founders and current president of the US are pleasure-hating biblical literalists

Many of the founding fathers of the US have little in common with this kind of revivalist hell-fire brand of Christianity. Most were either deists, skeptics, or non-fundie Christians and regardless of their religious preference they understood the merits of enlightenment philosophy enough to base their new country on those ideals.
posted by skallas at 6:04 PM on December 31, 2001


people, don't you realize that alamogordo is the closest town to white sands, where the first atomic bomb was detonated?

i think there's something in the water!

anyway, if any of y'all ever head down this way, make sure you come on the night of a full moon. after leaving burning bags of dog poo on the good preacher's doorstep, you can drive out on the sands and watch the moon glow.

(ps, i think it's quite stupid that they burned the books, but i also think it's their right. possibly because my manager at work used to be the manager of the major entertainment store in alamogordo and so i have it from a good source that the people in alamo are crazy about harry potter and all the products spawned from the head of rowling. (also, i've been drinking. happy almost new year!))
posted by sugarfish at 9:04 PM on December 31, 2001


Sure reminds me of a wee piece of wisdom from Finley Peter Dunne.

"A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks the Lord would do if He knew the facts of the case."
posted by scottymac at 11:01 PM on December 31, 2001


I would never have imagined that the Evil One would attempt communicate with us in the form of a story about a little boy's redemption from evil through the love of his mother. One can only envy from afar the luck of those wisely lead parishioners...
posted by RichLyon at 4:44 AM on January 1, 2002


> Popular fashion magazines such as "Cosmopolitan"
> and "Young Miss," and various adult magazines, were
> also burned.

Hey, I'll burn Cosmo. Where's the fire?
posted by jfuller at 7:50 AM on January 1, 2002


I should host a book burning party. One requirement: the book to be burned must be a religious text: bible, koran, torah, whatever. Also periodicals like Guideposts (or whatever its called - I see them at the laundromat and delight in using them for toilet paper).

Doesn't Alomogordo have a municipal law against trash burning? Most cities do. If so, wouldn't this activity be in violation of that law? Minor point, I know, but still it is rather indicative of city government that this wasn't pursued. Would a party like the one I described above be equally likely of escaping the long but fickle arm of the law?
posted by yesster at 8:18 AM on January 2, 2002


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