To stop people from getting ideas…burn books!


News of the guy who threatened to and actually did burn the Koran has been all over the networks. Funny thing is; book burning isn’t a new thing. It’s been around from the middle ages where books printed by John Wycliffe and Johannes Gutenberg were burned to recent times when Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses had copies of his book burned in public and a fatwa placed on his head by Islamic authorities in the middle east.

Most authorities have (rightly) recognised that books are a veritable mine of information and are powerful avenues for the propagation of ideas and cultures. But what they fail to understand is that ideas do not die out simply by book burning. They are simply transferred from one place to another and persecution only makes it spread. I wouldn’t have (I think!!!) been interested in The Satanic Verses if the authorities hadn’t threatened Rushdie’s life.  So much for killing his ideas. The only sure way to kill an idea is to introduce a more powerful one. To paraphrase the words of Rick Warren, ”Book burning is only practiced by those who are unsure of the strength of their ideas”.

We all know that books burn—yet we have the greater knowledge that books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory…In this war, we know, books are weapons.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

U.S. president.

Message to the American Booksellers Association

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