Banned Books Week: Burn, Baby, Burn
If you are a lover of books and free speech, you probably already know that it is Banned Books Week, a time to highlight and support books that are challenged by society for a variety of reasons. Many books that are considered classics today have been either banned or challenged by schools, libraries and politicians for issues ranging from sexuality, violence and other "social offenses."
Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, a fictionalized story about the horrors of the American meat-packing industry in the early 1900s, was not only an expose on what was really going on with (and going into) our food, but also put on display the "inferno of exploitation" poor and immigrant workers had to deal with at the time. Luckily, the book helped change the laws around workers' rights and food safety, ultimately with the creation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, this didn't come without the book's detractors. The Jungle was banned in Yugoslavia, East Germany, and South Korea, and was even burned in Nazi bonfires for Sinclair‘s socialist views.
C'mon y'all, no one burns books anymore, right? And certainly not in the democratic United States, right?
From CBS News:
The Pentagon announced [Sept 27, 2010] it has overseen the destruction of 9,500 copies of a former Army intelligence officer's war memoir that it contends threatened national security.With the controversies around Wikileaks, the McCrystal/Rolling Stone interview, and the new Bob Woodward book, our government seems to be doing things all in the name of "national security" these days, and book burnings maybe coming back into fashion.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Monday that military officials last week watched as St. Martin's Press pulped the books to be recycled.
The publisher had planned to release on Aug. 31 Anthony Shaffer's book "Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan - and the Path to Victory."
Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, says the Army Reserve cleared the manuscript beforehand, but the Defense Department later rescinded the approval, claiming the text contained classified information
Shaffer and the publisher agreed to remove the material.
A revised version of the book, with some material blacked-out, is being released.
In a statement on the St. Martin's website, Shaffer wrote, "While I do not agree with the edits in many ways, the DoD redactions enhance the reader’s understanding by drawing attention to the flawed results created by a disorganized and heavy handed military intelligence bureaucracy."
...Revoking approval to publish the book at the last minute raises questions, Zaid says, because the [Defence Intelligence Agency] knew for months the book was coming out.
"Either someone woke up and smelled the roses or it was retaliatory," he said.