Is it wrong to burn books?

Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:10 pm

Recently I was discussing the whole Qur'an burning thing on another forum. I expressed the view that whilst burning books is uncivilised and automatically makes a person an ass, he's free to do it and he's in no way responsible for what happened in Afghanistan afterwards.

I still believe that last part, but a comment I saw on youtube recently got me to thinking - what's so special about books? Centuries ago there would be only a few copies of a book. Even in the printing press age you could burn so many copies that a copy was hard to find.

But computers have fundamentally changed that. Books are now viruses, so long as one copy remains anybody can make millions. The burning of books was increasingly symbolic, but now it's a totally empty symbol.

That youtube comment I mentioned - the guy is making a point about this by getting an old hard drive and downloading a copy of the Qu'ran onto it. He's going to make a million copies of the file, and then burn the drive. His point is partly that he's free to destroy whatever he likes, but also that in this age, such destruction doesn't actually accomplish anything.

So I'm rethinking my position. I never thought I'd say it, but I'm coming to think it's okay to burn books! What say you?
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Deepcrush » Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:48 pm

To me, book burning is just another way of admitting you're afraid of information. Its a sign of cowardice that I feel is beyond forgiveness, not that I'm a forgiving person mind you, and shouldn't be accepted ever.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Nickswitz » Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:52 pm

I think it's perfectly fine to burn books, I don't care, they make good kindling...
The larger thing I have a problem with is people doing it in order to fundamentally reduce a thought to the point that it deserves to be burnt, be it a book, a flag, or a hard drive. The Qur'an burning is basically him telling everyone that the Muslim faith doesn't deserve to exist, because it's so worthless, which I have a problem with.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Mikey » Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:29 pm

That's the thing. Burning a book is no longer an action which is likely to have an appreciable impact on the dissemination of any thought; but it's highly symbolic of things like Nick mentions above, or of tyrannical Orwellian thought-monitoring. The significance of burning the Qu'ran wasn't lost on anyone, no matter how easy it was to replace the physical copy - nor is the connotation gotten from the societies which are historically linked with book-burning (i.e., the Nazis, the Spenglerian Dominican Order, etc.)
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:12 pm

It's symbolic of wanting to kill an idea.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:54 pm

That's what I mean, though. Yes it's symbolic of wanting to get rid of an idea... but the symbol has become a futile, empty one. Now when I see somebody burn a book, my though is not "they are trying to get rid of an idea", but rather "there's a person who doesn't quite grasp what century he's in."
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:56 pm

Sometimes symbolism trumps the reality.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Tsukiyumi » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:57 pm

As much of a scumbag the "pastor" in question is, I doubt even he thought burning a single Qur'an would do more than propagate his message of intolerance and hatred.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Nickswitz » Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:00 pm

But it's not that he's trying to get rid of an idea, he's trying to say that it doesn't deserve to exist. I know there doesn't sound to be a difference, but there is.

Trying to get rid of it is saying that it may have had it's time and place, but now is neither for it and it now needs to be gone, whereas saying it never should have existed is going to the extent of saying the idea is so disgusting that it must be fully destroyed, it's not tearing it to pieces, it's literally changing it's chemical components making them simply carbon. So it's saying that it is intolerable and should be completely eliminated from existence.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Mikey » Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:20 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:That's what I mean, though. Yes it's symbolic of wanting to get rid of an idea... but the symbol has become a futile, empty one. Now when I see somebody burn a book, my though is not "they are trying to get rid of an idea", but rather "there's a person who doesn't quite grasp what century he's in."


Then you're in the minority. Symbols bear great meaning, even when the act they imitate has long since ceased to have value. The idea of someone telling me not to think a certain way, or that my ideas or not worthy of existence (an excellent way to put it, Nick) is heinous even if the act which perpetuates the symbolism can't have the effect. In other words, I know that burning a book can't halt the idea; but I also know what the burner means by doing so.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:33 pm

Mikey wrote:Then you're in the minority.

I'm comfortable with that. I'm in quite a few minorities. :)

Symbols bear great meaning, even when the act they imitate has long since ceased to have value. The idea of someone telling me not to think a certain way, or that my ideas or not worthy of existence (an excellent way to put it, Nick) is heinous even if the act which perpetuates the symbolism can't have the effect. In other words, I know that burning a book can't halt the idea; but I also know what the burner means by doing so.

I'm very aware of what the symbolism is and how nasty the thought behind it is. Yesterday I was right there in line with people who viewed that symbol that way. What I'm saying is that the meaning of symbols can change, and maybe it would be a good idea to work on changing how people view this one.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby stitch626 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:47 pm

The only reason I'll ever burn a book is for keeping me warm in a worst case scenario kind of thing. Otherwise... I see no reason to.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Deepcrush » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:03 am

RK_Striker_JK_5 wrote:Sometimes symbolism trumps the reality.


Not just that, but once that kind of symbolism becomes popular and accepted... it can risk becoming reality.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:10 am

Well haven't we all come across a book or two so awful as to be more useful as kindling than as reading material? :P

But this is hardly the only example of a phrase or symbol which outlives it's practical significance.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:21 am

Funnily enough I'm reading something called "Ghost" by John Ringo at the moment. It's kind of hard to describe just how weirdly perversely awful it is, but I do admit, the thought of doing nasty things to it has crossed my mind once or twice. :lol:
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