~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ten Most Dangerously Influential Books

[Note: After comments and emails informing me of some clarity issues, be advised that I have revised this post quite extensively.]

Human Events Online, the conservative weekly publication, has put up their list of "The Ten Most Harmful Books" of the last two hundred years. A quick Technorati search will let you see who's upset over this list.

Liberal reactions range from the fuming to the bemused to the incoherent, with screaming headlines like "Book burning ahead!" and "Quick! Read all of these before the right-wingers ban them."

My reaction? Human Events has made a tactical blunder in calling the books themselves "harmful," when (giving them the kindest interpretation) they simply meant that their collective influence has been "harmful" to society. Viewed in this light, the list seems to be a cry of dismay, rather than a dire warning. They seem to be saying that the damage has already been done. And with few exceptions, I'd agree. This list succinctly illustrates the organization's opposition to big government ecomonics, communism, facsism, and anti-christian ideologies (feminism, atheism, and imodesty.)

All of which *I* also oppose. [And responding to an emailer who objected to "imodesty being on the list ("..privacy of their own bedrooms... right to privacy..." etc.) Private bedroom activities cannot, by definition, be imodest. Modesty means appropriate dress for public locations. Bikinis at the beach, not the office. Get it?]

I fail to see any outrage here. I see no call for mass book banning/burning. I see no call for the installation of a right-wing theocracy.

To all my left leaning bretheren with images of evangenlical lynch mobs storming the local public library... Chill. Seriously. The reactionary screaming over this list is hurting my ears.

Your precious "banned" books are perfectly safe. Don't believe me? I'll prove it. I'll pop down to the main branch right now to check and see that a copy of every book on the list is available. Back in about an hour.

UPDATE: Here are the results of my twenty minutes (including drive time) at the Louisville Free Public Library:
1. The Communist Manifesto
Authors: Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels

Two copies available

2. Mein Kampf
Author: Adolf Hitler

On hold at the Main Branch, but available at the Bon Air, Fern Creek, Crscent Hill, and Western branches.

3. Quotations from Chairman Mao
Author: Mao Zedong

No listings under that title, but 17 other works include compilations.

4. The Kinsey Report
Author: Alfred Kinsey

Not at the Main Branch, but available at either the Highlands or Shively branches.

5. Democracy and Education
Author: John Dewey

Alas, no listings, yet 58 other works to choose from

6. Das Kapital
Author: Karl Marx

Three copies available

7. The Feminine Mystique
Author: Betty Friedan

Two copies available

8. The Course of Positive Philosophy
Author: Auguste Comte

No results for author or title

9. Beyond Good and Evil
Author: Freidrich Nietzsche

One copy available

10. General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
Author: John Maynard Keynes

Two copies available
Conclusion: I was able to lay hands on a copy of five out ten in twenty minutes. I had mutiple locations where I could find two other titles, and only three were not in the library system computers. Censorship! Alert the ACLU! I don't think so.

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