Burning of books?

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Is book burning bad?

Yes.
94
55%
No.
26
15%
Burn the evil texts burn them all!!
3
2%
All books should be kept safe and guarded by militant librarians.
49
28%
 
Total votes: 172

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Maduyn
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Burning of books?

Postby Maduyn » Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:01 am UTC

I think that it is one of the most evil vile sinful things in this world to burn a book.
I think that all book burners should be gutted and have their entrails used for book binding.
But what are your thoughts?
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby e946 » Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:13 am UTC

Unless it's the only copy in existence, you're not actually destroying information. So what's the problem?

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Maduyn » Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:17 am UTC

each book once burned reduces the number left under your logic we only need one of every book in the world but in order for the books to be books they need to be enough of them so that many can read them so that they aren't forgotton.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Minchandre » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:01 am UTC

Burning books is always wrong. Even if it's not destroying the last copy of a book, it's the symbolic act of destroying knowledge...besides, to mangle a quote, when books are burned, people follow close behind.

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby IronyandParadox » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:06 am UTC

Djabanete wrote:I think you should write a book about that.
It's been written, and it's called Fahrenheit 451.

Book burning is awful. You're destroying knowledge. Even if you start out by burning something bad--maybe it's blatantly racist, maybe it's advocating eugenics, whatever--it becomes all too easy to jump to burning things that are controversial, but slightly more innocent.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Barbie » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:16 am UTC

Maduyn wrote:each book once burned reduces the number left under your logic we only need one of every book in the world but in order for the books to be books they need to be enough of them so that many can read them so that they aren't forgotton.

I'd say it's okay to burn books that are defective in some way. Like, say, if somehow all the punctuation and capitalization were omitted in the printing of a book. It would be so incomprehensible that nobody would read it anyway.

Besides, just because something is in the form of a book, doesn't make it sacred. Are you against deleting spam from your e-mail account, or shredding outdated memos from work, or throwing out the store labels from your new clothes? Those all contain information. If someone stuck all that random information in a book and then burned it, why is that any more wrong than you destroying it in your own way?
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Maurog » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:54 am UTC

Internet is making the books obsolete anyway. We may still need one hard copy as a backup, but e-books is where it's at, people. I'd burn a book to make myself warm, sure.

Burning books as censorship, now that's bad. Really bad. But not because of the burning part or the books part.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby pollywog » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:05 am UTC

I've burned books before. When I cleaned out my room, I took most of the books from my shelf and gave away the good-quality ones and burned the rest. I think I burned some LOTR, various magazines, some Tintins, and a bunch of picture books.

I'd say that on the right/wrong scale, book burning isn't that high.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby niende » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:10 am UTC

@pollywog: why not just give them to charity?

I'm defintely against Book Burning.

If it was me or the book though, you know who'd be the last man standing.

but I do have a question.
if burning books is bad because it symbolizes destruction of knowledge.
Is it the same thing if someone decided to burn computers?
a la "his blog is evil and we want none of his kind in our community. we shall now buy every hard drive and modem in town and melt them down with much enthusiasm and conviction."

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Maurog » Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:12 am UTC

Not because of the burning part or the computers part.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:53 am UTC

I have no real problem with the general practice of burning books. Sometimes something just has to be burned. be it book or something else.

On the Other hand, I find institutionalized destruction of books for purposes of censory to be reprehensible in the extreme.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby yelly » Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:08 pm UTC

Burning books as an action is not evil per se, but it is the historical context that makes it a no-no. Throughout history, every time books were burned, it was bad. Burning of the vanities, the burning of the Talmud in france, the holocaust... Burning books symbolises much more than just burning a book, just like marching in Skokie. It is plain offensive at the least.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby blob » Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:51 pm UTC

As several posters have said, censorship is bad. But as per Carpe Jugulum, sometimes to make a great light, you have to burn a book.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Steve Zissou » Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:42 pm UTC

Whoever said they burned some Tin Tin makes me sad...I've been meaning to go out and buy some more. I loved them as a kid.

Having just written an essay on the censorship and isolation of Chinese/Japanese cultures, I think the negative impact of book burning for the sake of censorship is a no-brainer. Censorship shouldn't be used as a tool to sway the opinions of the masses; people have to learn to make educated and informed opinions on their own. As such, I don't really think I agree with the idea of book burning in any sense...even if you personally find you don't have room/need for the information within, there's always someone else that could. Donation is always a great idea. But I can see both sides of it. I'm not condemning/judging anyone who would do it, I just know I personally would not.

My girlfriend is actually raising awareness with regards to illiteracy in First Nations communities here in Canada, so she's collecting any used/previously loved books to ship to numerous reserves and communities. It's just an example of the other things you can do with books you no longer need. (Which, on that note....if you feel like sending a whole bunch of books you no longer want/need to Canada, I'm sure that would be much appreciated! Hell, even get something similar in your own community would be cool as well! :))
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Djabanete » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:03 pm UTC

When I made my (very sarcastic) post, I was actually intending to make a point: if a book is sufficiently vacuous, then there can be no harm in burning it. Sometimes information is just pointless enough that there's no reason to keep it. Nobody would complain if I my burned my sales receipts or old concert tickets. What if a book was just as devoid of useful knowledge or artistic merit?

Obviously, burning books as part of a regime of censorship (as in Farenheit 451) is bad, because those doing the burning don't care whether the knowledge contained within the books is worthwhile, or whether the books have artistic merit. The indiscriminate burning of books is a bad thing because something of value may well be destroyed.

EDIT: Burning LoTR or Tin Tin is evil.

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby blob » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:11 pm UTC

Perhaps the first question should be: are the books yours? Burning another person's books is always wrong.

Burning your own books should probably be allowed in general. The only exception I can think of are burning rare books, or burning a large quantity of books and causing pollution.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby akashra » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:13 pm UTC

There are three books which I find the burning of to be perfectly acceptable. Which three should be easily obvious, so, can you name them?
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Celestial » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:38 pm UTC

I do believe that book burning is an attack at peoples intellectual freedoms. There is information that the government doesn't want us to know, this is absurd how much power they have over us, especially in the earlier centuries.

They banned the most amazing books simply because they thought there were heretical. -_-

There are now organizations that fight to not get books banned and I am happy for that. :)

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby theonemephisto » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:39 pm UTC

As others have said, the actual act of burning books isn't necessarily bad (unless you're in a special circumstance, like a rare book or something), however, the censorship that is often implied by the act is.

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby ThisIsVictor » Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:21 pm UTC

e946 wrote:Unless it's the only copy in existence, you're not actually destroying information. So what's the problem?


By burning a book you're denying people access to that information. Like others said, it's censorship that is wrong, not the physical burning of the books.

I have problems with burning books because you don't want them anymore, too. Give them to a thrift store, or donate them to one of the hundreds of programs that collects books for libraries/schools/developing nations. At least recycle them!

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby akashra » Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:53 pm UTC

ThisIsVictor wrote:By burning a book you're denying people access to that information. Like others said, it's censorship that is wrong, not the physical burning of the books.

I have problems with burning books because you don't want them anymore, too. Give them to a thrift store, or donate them to one of the hundreds of programs that collects books for libraries/schools/developing nations. At least recycle them!

--Victor

Should I also be donating my tax reports? What about private employment contracts or university transcripts or reports? Bank transaction history and credit card information? Clearly though I'm done with this information I should be freely and openly providing this to anyone who wants it?
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Maduyn » Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:11 am UTC

now here is another question do you advocate the burning of books based on what they say inside for example things that are racist (like books written by people saying all blacks should be killed) or sexsist (that women should do everything their husbands tell them to do and have no rights) or anti [insert anything here] (like anti christianity or abortion) what about a book that advocates burning books or outdated information like anceint geography maps saying the world was flat? i think that regaredless of what is in the books they should never be burned unless its them or the human race
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby akashra » Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:27 am UTC

Maduyn wrote:now here is another question do you advocate the burning of books based on what they say inside for example things that are racist (like books written by people saying all blacks should be killed) or sexsist (that women should do everything their husbands tell them to do and have no rights) or anti [insert anything here] (like anti christianity or abortion) what about a book that advocates burning books or outdated information like anceint geography maps saying the world was flat? i think that regaredless of what is in the books they should never be burned unless its them or the human race

Hmm, what books could we possibly come up with that meet the description you've just given.

Hmmm, geee, I dunno. I'm going to have to think about that one.


IMO, Everyone should be entitled to have an ill-informed opinion, but it should be criminal to use this opinion to make any decisions which might affect others. They should also bare the riddicule and shame from others if rationality can't seep in.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Woaz » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:59 am UTC

I find the burning of books to me morally wrong in most cases, but a few exceptions quickly come to my mind. If the book is heavily biased, to the point where there is more bias than information, then it probably deserves to be burned/destroyed.

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby neon » Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:17 am UTC

Corollary 1: Is there an idea so hateful that it should not exist?

Corollary 2: Is there an idea so dangerous that it should not exist?

These are two separate questions. In the first I would say no, e.g. Mein Kampf should not be burned but rather studied so that it wouldn't happen again. The second question I a less sure of. Suppose I have plans for a device that can easily be assembled by anyone which would threaten our entire existence. Should that information be censored? Suppose it were possible to cook up in your kitchen a virus that would wipe out humanity or maybe just certain ethnicities? Now make that a bit more realistic, suppose that it was possible for a small but dedicated organization to do much the same? You have, in a nutshell here, pretty much the most common scenario for the rest of this century.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby pollywog » Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:13 am UTC

The books that I burned were in very bad condition. LOTR was missing it's cover and split several times. The Tintin comic was missing several pages, and the cover now adorns my wall (Tintin Land of Black Gold, if anyone cares) and the other were books full of pictures of animals, most of which I had cut out well before I became sapient. The only other option to get rid of these books was to throw them out, and burning them created ash for the garden. Tintin and LOTR are both available at my local library, should I ever feel the need to read them again (unlikely, as I can't really read Tolkien as easily as I did before, when I was a shallow, callow young lad, and Tintin just doesn't have the appeal it used to) and I would rather have the dream of going to a place and seeing an animal than looking at a picture of one.

So I couldn't give them to charity, and I don't think that burning them makes me evil.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Delbin » Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:48 am UTC

I'm with those that say burning books is evil. Although Kevin Trudeau (Natural Cures, etc.) seems to exist solely to test my resolve in this matter. I see people who check out / request / have fines for his books and I just can't look them in the eye.

Even books filled with radically racist or sexist content shouldn't be burned. They are a part of history in some way or another. Burning the books wouldn't make the thoughts go away or make the existence of either disappear or even lessen. For example, just what would the civil rights movement be without the KKK? Wiping out the wrong side only degrades the accomplishment of the right side.

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby tiny » Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:12 pm UTC

Where is the 'Depends on book and context' option?

Burning books for reasons other than the book itself (politics, religion, ...) is bad. It's a radical thing to do, an aggressive way to promote an ideology and devaluate another. When a society has come so far to burn books, one should be concerned.

But there are books out there that are just so badly written and outrageously stupid in their design of plot and characters, that their mere existence rapes the topic they are supposed to be about.
When I come across one of these, I want to burn it, to make a statement from an aestethical point of view.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Indon » Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:08 pm UTC

Well, I guess I'd much rather see paper recycled than burned.

That said, censorship is bad, but unless the government is actually censoring, then book burning is a gesture (and kind of silly, if you do it legally - "Hey, publisher-guy, I'd like to buy all of your Harry Potter books. Yeah, I'mma burn them!") which I can't say I particularly care about one way or another.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby ThisIsVictor » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:56 pm UTC

akashra wrote:Should I also be donating my tax reports? What about private employment contracts or university transcripts or reports? Bank transaction history and credit card information? Clearly though I'm done with this information I should be freely and openly providing this to anyone who wants it?


The key thing to me is censorship. All that data is yours and private, so censorship isn't an issue. I agree that private information is your property and you can do whatever you want with it. Information that was meant to be public should remain public and not be destroyed.

(And technically, a book is someones property and they can do what they want with it too. I'm not advocating laws that would ban book burning. I'm saying that I think it's best for the world if books are never destroyed.)

Delbin: Well said!

pollywog: I don't think your evil. (I don't think anyone is evil, but that's thread drift.) I think there were better options then burning, but I don't think less of you for doing it.

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby oxoiron » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:07 pm UTC

Maurog wrote:Internet is making the books obsolete anyway. We may still need one hard copy as a backup, but e-books is where it's at, people.

Can you elaborate on how this is true? I might be persuaded that the internet is making reference books obsolete, but I've never read a work of fiction on the internet that was longer than a short story. I can't imagine sitting down in front of a computer long enough to read a novel.

Maurog wrote:Burning books as censorship, now that's bad. Really bad. But not because of the burning part or the books part.

I'm with you on this part.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Kidrik » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:09 pm UTC

I'm tempted to say that only books that contain some value shouldn't be burned--such as really really poor quality romance novels--but of course once in that position burning books becomes subject to what is considered to have value by those in power.

I myself would hate to see most any book burned. All books deserve to remain in existence that they can be studied in regards to culture, and history. All of us have a list of books we wish never existed, but they should remain in existence regardless.

--if all the trash literature in the world suddenly burned up I wouldn't mind. It's just the principle for me.

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Narsil » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:22 am UTC

akashra wrote:There are three books which I find the burning of to be perfectly acceptable. Which three should be easily obvious, so, can you name them?

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
Eragon, Christopher Paolini

I don't think the act of destroying books is necessarily bad, it's all about scope and intent.

Example, I cut up the innards of some trashy pulp fantasy book to make a box out of it, like a hollowed out book one could store things in. Does that make me bad? No. It's was a crappy book, but there were plenty more of them in the world, and I put it to a purpose that I got more use out of. And I wasn't trying to deprive anyone else of knowledge, so the intent was not bad.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Robin S » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:42 am UTC

I'm keeping a neutral stance on this one. While normally I wouldn't endorse book burning (except where necessary, e.g. as emergency fuel) I can think of situations where I would rather a text was burnt than that it continued to propagate. This attitude would be felt more towards newly-published books of little cultural significance; books such as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", while they originally perpetrated vile lies (and are still used for that purpose by some, even), are now of cultural significance and hence I would be less keen to see them burnt.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby OmenPigeon » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:58 am UTC

I feel like book burning is pretty much the same thing as flag burning. Analyzed objectively, as a single incident, it's pretty obvious that almost no harm comes to the world from burning a book or a flag. Losing a pile of paper and ink or some pretty colors on cloth isn't really that big a deal.

If you stop and look at it in context, though, book burning is an incredibly powerful symbol of oppression and tyranny and censorship and crushing totalitarianism. The problem people have with setting novels on fire isn't about losing information or anything concrete, we're simply disgusted by what it represents.

As to whether it's wrong, I turn again to flag burning. Legally, of course, both are protected as free speech. Like Voltaire, I may disagree with what you're saying, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. Being legal doesn't make it right, though. It may only be a symbolic act, but it's a disgusting, ugly and horrendous symbol.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby JayDee » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:05 am UTC

Book burning offends me in ways that simple book destruction doesn't. As someone mentioned above, why not recycle?

I'm guessing that I'm not the only one for whom the burning itself has strong negative connotations, and I wonder if the people who would be okay with burning books take that into consideration. If I were destroying a book for any reason, I'd certainly find a different way of doing it.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Geekthras » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:13 am UTC

I'm reminded of a dialog in Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, in which one of the characters is asked if he would burn a book. He says that no, he wouldn't. When asked why not, he simply says "You just... don't do that." which I believe is about the perfect way to sum up my feelings about this.
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Re: Burning of books?

Postby Alibaba » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:25 am UTC

tiny wrote:Where is the 'Depends on book and context' option?

Burning books for reasons other than the book itself (politics, religion, ...) is bad. It's a radical thing to do, an aggressive way to promote an ideology and devaluate another. When a society has come so far to burn books, one should be concerned.
These words are my own.

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I remember vaguely reading Anthem for school. Is this the kind of "book burning" you refer to?

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby mspickle » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:47 am UTC

I guess I can't vote because I think if it's useless it doesn't matter if you burn it. I grew up among teachers that thought all books were somehow sacred but seriously, who cares if someone burns a book full of porn? I delete spam every day...same diff...as the previous poster said. I can see how symbolically people could be very offended because our culture has taught us that knowledge (and books, symbolically, then) is somehow "sacred". Why aren't old newspapers and magazines held to the same standards? No one thinks anything about burning (or recycling, etc.) those things, but if it's a "book", it deserves some exalted pedestal? A book can suck, too!

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Re: Burning of books?

Postby superglucose » Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:20 am UTC

Maduyn wrote:I think that it is one of the most evil vile sinful things in this world to burn a book.
I think that all book burners should be gutted and have their entrails used for book binding.
But what are your thoughts?


Come get me then. Davis, California, UC Davis Residency Laben room 101. Stefan Nelson. Then ask for James McCardle. Then when you come see me, I'll point you to my gf and his gf.

The most vile, evil, sinful thing in this world is to prevent the spreading of information. I was not burning the books to prevent the spread of the words on their page. I was burning the books because I detested the way in which they were written, and I didn't want to own my copy anymore.

Book burning is fine. It's expression, an expression that says "I really, really, really don't like what you wrote." Whether you burned the book because the message is stupid (Scarlet Letter), it's poorly written (Scarlet Letter... again), it pushed someone close to you over the edge and they commited suicide (Sirens of Titan), or because your evil, bitch-ass step mother thought it would make a good gift (How Not to be Rude), or because you push falseified religious doctrine on people (uh, I forget the title, but among it's great revelations was "Masturbation causes sex!"), it is freedom of expression to burn the books.

Now if you STOLE someone ELSE'S book and burned it, then there's a problem. But let's say I buy every copy of... uh, Harry Potter. Or Every bible in the WORLD. And I burn them all so there are none left. I have no problem with anyone doing that, but I'm going to charge you an arm and a leg for each harry potter book and bible I own ;-)

ThisIsVictor wrote:By burning a book you're denying people access to that information. Like others said, it's censorship that is wrong, not the physical burning of the books.


Um... if the book is in my personal library, I'm still denying access to you. So are you saying possession of books is wrong or bad? And what about my girlfriend's personal journal? Say she doesn't want anyone to read that. That, by your argument, is censorship and wrong. And as far as denying access to information, throwing away a soup can is denying someone access to information. Burning a log is denying access to the information that could have been gained by studying the log.

The argument that burning one of a million copies of a book is 'censorship' and 'denying people access to the information inside' is very flimsy.

I have problems with burning books because you don't want them anymore, too. Give them to a thrift store, or donate them to one of the hundreds of programs that collects books for libraries/schools/developing nations. At least recycle them!

Bah. Recycling would have been nice, but I burned the HS english books I didn't like, and it gave me a sense of release, as if I was putting a hated chapter of my life behind me. It felt good, and I wasn't doing it to censor anyone. They had a right to say what they wanted, I have a right to not listen, disregard, and even berate what they said.
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