Book Burning

Over the weekend, the Lit Saloon pointed to this story coming out of the U.K.: A bookseller who’d been consigning unsold books to the trash heap has decided instead to dispose of them by burning them, coincidentally on the same weekend as Beltane, a local pagan festival. Unsurprisingly, the move made more than a few people angry, some of whom are quoted in Adrian Turpin’s Times article:

[T]he root of most objections is not about marketing or public opinion. It is far more instinctive, proof that book-burning remains one of the West’s most enduring taboos. Michael McCreath is chairman of Wigtown’s book festival, which takes place in September. ‘The whole thing has such horrendous historical connotations,’ he says.

The news has been picked up in other outlets. I can’t help but notice this little tidbit from James Hamilton’s article in the Sunday Herald:

Watson, a librarian to trade, added: ‘I think of Salman Rushdie [whose Satanic Verses was torched by militant Muslims] and the Harry Potter books burned in the US ‘ as far as I’m concerned by complete nutters. It’s the symbolism that bothers me. I just don’t feel happy about it. I’m seriously uncomfortable about the public burning of books because of the message it sends out.’

Conclusion: If you burn a book and you’re Muslim, you can be sure your religious inclination will be mentioned. If you burn a book and you’re not, you’ll just be called a regular sort of nutter.

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