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Book burning, it's not just for 1930s Germans any more ...

Literary Snobs

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Jul 22, 2009, 10:34pm Top

As an ex-Wisconsinite, I was alarmed and dismayed at this development in West Bend, Wisconsin:


Of course all this ruckus was caused by books depicting "sex" and "the gays." Well, I guess they are pining for good ole decent American values of Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Joe McCarthy Oh yeah, we have cheese and beer here too.

Jul 22, 2009, 11:04pm Top

Reads like an Onion article:

Outside West Bend, the fight caught the attention of Robert Braun, who, with three other Milwaukee-area men, filed a claim against West Bend calling for one of the library's books to be publicly burned, along with financial damages.

The four plaintiffs -- who describe themselves as "elderly" in their complaint --- claim their "mental and emotional well-being was damaged by (the) book at the library."


Jul 23, 2009, 1:16am Top

I have heard that it is common practice for fundamentalists to steal books they object to from the libraries to keep them off the shelves.

Edited: Jul 23, 2009, 8:19am Top

"She and her husband also asked the library to obtain books about homosexuality that affirmed heterosexuality, such as titles written by "ex-gays," Maziarka said." Written by ex-gays? Big market do you think?

Out of curiosity I looked up the School Library Journal review of Baby Bebop. It's apparently a well written gay teen coming-of-age story recommended for grade 10 and up. It was was chosen by the American Library Association as a 1996 "Best Book for Young Adults."

Of course the irony in such a censorship attempt is that those people have all but guaranteed that every teen in the town will read the disputed books.

Jul 23, 2009, 8:48am Top

It never has been "just for 1930s Germans".

Jul 23, 2009, 12:39pm Top

On this dating site I was briefly involved with, they had a series of questions in order to match people with similar values, mostly either/or types of things, and some of them really would say quite a bit about you. One was:

Which is more disturbing to you:
- Flag burning
- Book burning

I made that one of my "mandatory" questions because I thought it really did express a value difference that's important enough to me to be a "make or break" in a relationship.

Jul 23, 2009, 1:58pm Top

In the UK, no one would even consider asking whether you found flag burning disturbing. Here, it's just a piece of cloth. We make underpants and T-shirts out of it.

Jul 23, 2009, 2:03pm Top

Ah, but desecrating the Queen's image, putting the Queen Mum's mug on a roll of toilet paper...not exactly kosher, as I recall. You Brit-eesh have your little quirks and hang-ups too, Sales. And you still refuse to acknowledge that half the males in your country are bisexual cat fetishists.

You nancy boy...

Jul 23, 2009, 2:19pm Top

Book burning is not just for fundamentalists and other censors, it can be a fun event for the whole family!

Seriously - At my High School in Toronto in the early eighties it had become a tradition for those graduating to gather in a parking lot after the last day of classes. They would drink beer and burn all their school books in oil drums - because they would not be needing them anymore...

They could see nothing wrong in their attitude towards learning or the symbolism of their act. And I strongly suspect the faculty knew all about it.

Jul 23, 2009, 2:36pm Top

Was there anything wrong in "their attitude?"

There's a big difference between burning books to prevent others from having access to the ideas therein, and burning some of the world's endless and instantly obsolescent supply of school textbooks simply because they are (a) your property to dispose of as you please and (b) you no longer need them.

Face it, 99% of textbooks are bound for the shredder within a few years, regardless.

Jul 23, 2009, 2:58pm Top

>10 ajsomerset: As a fellow Canadian I assume you feel the same about burning your old flags...

Actually I still have most of my books from that period: English lit. classics, history books etc.

I prefer to give away my old books. I feel a bit guilty whenever I have to throw away a torn up old book. Even then I would never burn them.

Most book burners aren't preventing access to anything, as they can't burn all the books they object to in the world, remove them from the internet etc. They know it - The act of burning books is symbolic.

Jul 23, 2009, 3:04pm Top

Cliff, she's your queen too, I seem to recall. Much as you hate to admit it.

Jul 23, 2009, 3:39pm Top


You know about that?

Yes, she's our queen. Nothing like having to get your national election results certified by the Queen's representative to stir feelings of national pride.

The real opposition to the monarchy in Canada will get under way when Charles appears on all our money.

What say you, Cliff?

Jul 23, 2009, 4:23pm Top

Not being a Canadian I can't speak to the Canadian relationship to Britain and the Commonwealth, but as someone mentioned in one of these threads, the Americans, in 1776, severed the political bands which joined us to Great Britain. We love the Monarchy, but don't care one way or the other if Charles ever shows up on your money. We're having a hard enough time keeping Ronald Reagan off of ours to worry about you.

Jul 23, 2009, 4:54pm Top

Ahhhh, there's that cuddly and tender U.S. concern for Canada, the thought of which keeps us warm on those long, winter nights.

But seriously, are there actually plans afoot to enshrine Regan on U.S. currency?

Jul 23, 2009, 5:08pm Top

15: There was a movement a while ago to get him on the dime, I believe.

Jul 23, 2009, 5:39pm Top

To quote The Simpsons...

Mr. Burns: Welcome, fellow Republicans. To start with the old business, brother Hibbert will read a report on our efforts to rename everything after Ronald Reagan.

Dr. Hibbert: All Millard Fillmore schools are now Ronald Reagans, the Mississippi River is now the Mississippi Reagan--

Dracula: And my good friend Frankenstein is now Franken-reagan. Blah!

Jul 23, 2009, 5:40pm Top

Yes, a maneuver dripping with irony since it would have replaced the Republican nemesis, FDR, who is on the ten cent piece (for our overseas friends, a dime, one tenth of a dollar, step right up folks, see Little Egy... Uh, where was I? Oh, yeah...) with the Republican FDR, Ronald Reagan.

Jul 23, 2009, 5:58pm Top

Book burning is universally awful, deplorable, and despicable, but every rule has its exception:


Jul 23, 2009, 6:28pm Top

Now, that's just wrong. You shouldn't even burn Ayn Rand.

No, let me rephrase that. You shouldn't burn her books....

Jul 23, 2009, 11:30pm Top

>20 ajsomerset: - Agreed. Then, if you do, others will actually have to buy the books new, and just think where that money goes...

Jul 24, 2009, 12:29am Top

This seemed germane to the conversation somewhere along the thread, but not so much now. Here is the link anyway...

Sorry, I don't know how to do the friendly link. Generally, it is about the publishers pulling out of books on Kindle and ebooks in general.

Aug 15, 2009, 11:15am Top

Message removed.

Aug 15, 2009, 11:36am Top

Er...methinks we have a Spammer in the house.

Aug 15, 2009, 11:37am Top

One who is downright avant-garde about it.

Nov 1, 2009, 1:39pm Top

If you really want a taste of how awful the book burners can be, check out the Banned Books Week pages at the American Library Association. And keep in mind that they estimate that fewer than 25% of challenges are reported.
If you scroll down past all the clip art on this page:
you can download the Yearly Lists, which include the reasons for challenges.

Nov 1, 2009, 2:21pm Top

Can't forget this classic Onion news piece:


Nov 4, 2009, 2:20am Top

Gotta love Onion--my favorite vegetable!

The stuff that really disturbed me as a child was not the fiction. It was the non-fiction. I read a biography of Joan of Arc that described, rather graphically for a children's book, how she was burned at the stake.

Then there was the Holocaust, complete with photographs of starved, naked corpses.

Nov 5, 2009, 3:12pm Top

Then there was the Holocaust, complete with photographs of starved, naked corpses.

Which is apparently what will happen when the US gives health care to poor people. Then again, the people making those leaps of logic also think Ayn Rand is a philosopher and not a horrible, horrible writer with idiotic, Utopian, rape-tastic ideas.

Nov 9, 2009, 11:12am Top

29> Ouch! Forgive me, but I seem to have missed your opus. Was it published before Ms. Rand's body of work, or after? While you may disagree with her writing, your statement regarding the depth and creativity in her work seems uneducated, at best.

Nov 9, 2009, 11:18am Top

1> Another reason that I like living in Europe. Gay is not so much an issue over here, and children are informed about sex and such at an early age, unlike the USA, which is probably why the USA has the highest rates for teen pregnancy and teen STDs in the developed world. Sad, it is, for such a great country.

Nov 9, 2009, 11:39am Top

Karl is reliably hyperbolic, but I'd argue he's not far off in his evaluation of Rand's stuff. She was a third-rate writer, and a fifth-rate thinker.

Edited: Nov 11, 2009, 1:08pm Top

I'd quite like to see a little book-burning to promote wider reading.

Every week all unsold books that have made it into the previous week's list of bestsellers should be burned. In this way publishers and the media would be unable to monopolise popular reading habits for weeks on end. They could republish maybe six months later, assuming that the books are still generating any interest. Of course, some good books would be burned on occasion, but mostly it'd be junk that's burned, and the general public's literary consciousness wouldn't be flooded by the same handful of books all year. What the hell, burn the top fifty. If they're any good then they'll still be bought once they've passed out of fashion.

Oh. And of course this means Rand is excluded due to lack of sales, sorry.

Nov 9, 2009, 4:16pm Top

30: I've read The Fountainhead and I've read Also Sprach Zarathustra Guess who had more writing talent? And if I wanted to read a book filled with rape and misguided Utopian ideas, I'd read Sade

Apparently the followers of Rand are unaware of this thing called the "freedom to disagree." It's popular in democracies everywhere, unlike Rand's Bizarro World Bolshevism. She's an authoritarian thug and the philosophical twin of L. Ron Hubbard, another idiot hack with equally stupid ideas and a penchant for dictatorial power and raping their followers. The world would have been a better place if Rand would have died in a GULAG. She might have actually enjoyed her KGB guards raping her. Rand doesn't believe in such things as mercy and compassion, so when talking about Rand, I feel free to comply.

Reminds me of the scene from A Time to Kill


Nov 11, 2009, 12:22pm Top

30> The fact that you condone the rape and/or death in a GULAG of another leads me to believe that I would much prefer to have her at my dinner table than someone with your ideals. I do disagree with your opinion of her writing, and I do not condemn you to a life of radical rectal adventures and/or death as a result. Have you forgotten this thing called 'Freedom to Disagree?" Or is that just for folks who do not like her writing?

I guess my question would be: why do folks dislike her so much? From my viewpoint, it would seem that she did what she set out to do, and even when you say you dislike her writing, you still talk about her. For a lady who left us a while ago, that's quite remarkable. Ah, yes, those who cannot, critique.

And, no, I am not a 'Randian.' I just had a different experience with her writing than the one you seem to have had. I find things in all writing that I like, and don't like. I have the intelligence to discern which aspects will add to my quality of life and which will not. With this in mind, I have yet to read a perfect book.

As for her being a fifth-rate writer, well...let's all go down to B&N and buy the latest Jaqueline what's her name's latest tome.

Nov 11, 2009, 12:51pm Top

Have dinner with woman who writes novel condoning rape = YES.

Have dinner with man who writes post condoning rape in Gulag = CERTAINLY NOT.

It's important to draw the line somewhere, right?

Edited: Nov 11, 2009, 1:26pm Top

The problem with Rand is that her philosophy of selfishness is a kind of half-baked Social Darwinism. As strange as it may seem to some, the best times in a nation are those times when the mood of the nation is inclusive and other oriented. Hard times come when the nation and its people are self-centered and exclusive with regard to the other.

I will give her one thing: she believes we should all be the best we can be with what we are given. I don't know of a philosophy, including Christianity, that doesn't start from that position, but it degenerates from we're all in this boat together, to this is my boat, get your own.

I am, first and foremost, a Christian. My Christianity tells me that Ayn Rand is the anti-Christ. She is exclusive rather than inclusive, she is a narcissist rather than other-oriented, she believes that if you don't like the way things are going, take your ball and go home, rather than make it better. She extols the cry-baby in each of us. How much different might things have been had John Galt run for office with the intention of booting all the straw men out? That's just the philosophical part. I'll let someone else address the fact that she can't, like, actually write worth a damn.

For the effects of the practical application of her philosophy, look around. The governmentally dysfunctional state of California is the perfect example. The desire was to reduce the size of government so it could be drowned in a bath tub and the way to do that was to tie it up in popular ballot initiatives with which to create unfunded mandates, reduce taxes to the breaking point and then remove the ability to address any of the subsequent issues that may arise (the need for a super-majority to get a budget passed, for example). These were all done by Randians. Or, we could look at the economy as a whole. Our current near depression economy was designed at Rand's salon.

I've got an idea. The next time your boss tells you to do something you don't agree with, give him or her Howard Roarks speech about how no man has a right to demand the results of my labor without my permission and see how far that gets you.

Her philosophy is one big, hard on against the Russian Revolution and how it unsettled her cush, upper middle class life in an overwhelmingly destitute country. It has nothing to do with actually living life in the real world. It's all about the sense of entitlement the well off have in the face of devastating poverty.

This morning I saw something somewhere to the effect that the head of AIG was threatening to resign because of all the government interference. Of course this is straight out of Rand. My advice to him is the same as my advice to anyone who threatens to leave, don't let the door hit your butt on the way out. Good riddance I say. Take a bunch of your high powered friends with you. Maybe you can work your magic in China or somewhere else. Oh, and before you leave, pay back the massive bailout US gave you. We can use that money for health care.

Nov 11, 2009, 1:21pm Top

# 33: Here's a much better idea than burning.
I'd have a book chair in my book house with some book art on my book shelves (that one doesn't quite work, see pictures!). I'd probably add an Oprah's book club book hassock for my feet. Hmmm, and a NY Times best seller book table for my wine glass, no worry if I spill.

Nov 11, 2009, 1:42pm Top

#36: I enjoyed the phrase "radical rectal adventures" in the preceding post though, at least.

Nov 11, 2009, 1:55pm Top

>38 MmeRose: Nice - the stuff immediately following Alice's tea-party is particularly impressive.

Nov 11, 2009, 2:43pm Top

>39 bencritchley: - I'd like to think we all did.

Nov 11, 2009, 2:51pm Top

'Radical rectal adventures' sounds like something out of the movie 'Fantastic Voyage'.

Nov 11, 2009, 2:58pm Top

37: My Christianity tells me that Ayn Rand is the anti-Christ.

Jeesh, I'd hope the Anti-Christ would have a wee bit more talent and taste than to contaminate his evil with the shrill idiocy of Rand.

As far as condemning Rand to the Gulag: what's to say she wouldn't like it? She's a lot like her female characters and they always seem to enjoy getting dominated, between the interminable lectures on authoritarian capitalism and pratfalls around the rock quarry.

Calling Rand a fifth-rate writer is an insult to fifth-rate writers everywhere. Even hacks have standards.

I'd say more global pain has been caused by Rand and her capitalist Einsatzgruppen (everyone from Pinochet to Alan Greenspan have fallen under her spell) than the writings of Sade. Rand's philosophy is just a Stalinism of the free market. Rand, like Stalin, changed their name to sound stronger. Must be some defect of the authoritarian personality, see Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, etc.

I pay home to Rand by giving her no compassion, no mercy, and holding her idiotic screeds as beyond my contempt.

Nov 11, 2009, 5:26pm Top

Perhaps we might move on to something a little more lighthearted, and less inflammatory, like book-burning?

Nov 11, 2009, 6:31pm Top

Are there taboo subjects? Ideas, notions that truly constitute threats? Concepts repugnant even to the most base among us. Should certain books--TURNER DIARY, MEIN KAMPF, HOW TO BUILD A METHAMPHETAMINE LAB IN YOUR BASEMENT and the collected screenplays of the "Ernest" film series--be burned, repudiated, pulped, recycled or otherwise disposed of? Can a book be dangerous? Are some fit for nothing more than a bonfire?

Nov 11, 2009, 6:56pm Top

That's more like it.

Nov 11, 2009, 7:24pm Top

As I remember we had a pretty contentious discussion about Celine a while ago that I thought was pretty valuable.

I believe the books mentioned in 45 should not only not be burned but should definitely be read and discussed. Evil ideas are best exposed to sunlight, not left to fester in underground places.

Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 12:31pm Top

Books are dangerous, that's what's so appealing about them. And what constitutes a danger or a threat is at best a subjective judgment call. It's not that books inspire violence -- Twilight can do that to any sane person -- it's WHICH books?

Didn't Sarah Palin write the Foreword to "How to build a meth lab in your basement"? As a self-avowed capitalist running dog and incompetent parent, I could understand how she would approve of making meth. Free enterprise, ya know. And the government coming down against meth making is just another example of Obama's plans to turn us all into Homomuslim Abortionist Gays.

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter."
-- Mark Twain

Nov 12, 2009, 1:29pm Top

37> I have to say that I disagree with your evaluation of her writing, but that should come as no surprise to anyone in this forum. It is not my purpose to change anyone's mind, but it puzzles me that in a group of supposedly passionate readers, everyone is requiring all readers to view his/her experience of this author's work in the same manner. You will have to be content with the fact that I disagree with your assessment of her work, and calling for her to be raped, placing today's woes on her shoulders and sending her to a Gulag seem not only un-Christian...well, I'll leave it there.

I have read much of her work, and I was young when I first started, and I have reread the books I enjoyed the most, and took from them those parts I felt would add to my life. As for her style of writing, I have no fault with it, and it is different from Dickens, O'Henry or Wolfe, but that is the magic of writing: authors have different styles. She was also writing for a different time in history, which many seem to have forgotten.

To call her fifth-rate seems silly actually, since I sincerely doubt any of the folks in this forum could put words to paper with even a smidgen of her ability. So why so hostile?

RE: the anti-Christ, and exclusivity. Well, where to begin? Show me a religion which is inclusive. I was raised in the Methodist church, and my wonderful grandmother, who entertained socially, warned me about Catholic girls. There wasn't a racist bone in her body, but she wouldn't hear of me marrying a Catholic girl. Religion is divisive, and always has been. Shall we count up the wars that were carried out under the 'god' banner? So, attacking Rand and saying that she was 'exclusive' should fit right into Christian ideals, from this perspective. And if John Galt had tried to get in office, he would have had to pass muster with a David Rockefeller, just like Obama. Without punching his sell-out card, Obama would not have been allowed to proceed past go and collect his Historical Event trophy. Straw hats run governments now, and have for a long time, and no one gets by them without falling into step. If more people were not locked in step, the world would be in a better state, so Galt was one of my childhood heroes. He thought for himself, and I admire that characteristic in anyone.

"I've got an idea. The next time your boss tells you to do something you don't agree with, give him or her Howard Roarks speech about how no man has a right to demand the results of my labor without my permission and see how far that gets you."

You have to realize that you used that totally out of context for the purpose you proposed. It doesn't jibe. When you work for someone, you have already made a contract with him/her for your efforts. It's not the same thing, at all. However, I have told a boss that I wouldn't do something that I felt was contrary to my beliefs, and I have left a job, when I discovered unethical behaviour. Fortunately, I am self-employed, now, and my boss is a very reasonable person.

The bottom line is: you still talk about her, so her writing did have an impact, and that's not a bad thing, for an author.

Nov 12, 2009, 1:38pm Top

49: Although I have not read Rand, I understand that one of the more troubling aspects of her work is that physical love is expressed through domination over female characters who sort of "lie back and enjoy it" - which is an issue that colors a lot of people's dislike of her work and gives rise to these remarks about rape. When an author seems to condone rape, it is not so very shocking that people facetiously call for her to be on the receiving end. As I have not read the stuff myself I shall stop here.

Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 1:41pm Top

36> You do realize that she was a writer, and that it was fiction, yes? I've read her work and I must have missed the part where she condoned the act. Can you provide an excerpt from any of her texts wherein she actually states that she, not her character(s), condones rape?

It's important to draw the line somewhere, right?

Yes, it is, when attempting to make a point, which some, it appears, missed.

Nov 12, 2009, 1:46pm Top

To call her fifth-rate seems silly actually, since I sincerely doubt any of the folks in this forum could put words to paper with even a smidgen of her ability.

Actually, many of us could. And have done. Albeit not with her level of success. Not that that argument has ever held water - "you can't criticise her because you haven't proven you can write as successfully/well as her". Complete and utter tosh. Mind you, if you like Rand I can understand why you might think that's a valid argument.

Nov 12, 2009, 1:50pm Top

49> Yes, her writing did show a style that was, in many ways, the style in the movies and many works of literature, at the time. One has only to watch reruns of old movies to see that attitude on film.

However, I disagree with your statement: 'when an author seems to condone rape.' At no point in her writing have I ever seen her make the statement that she, personally, condones rape. No more so than any other author who writes a scene such as that in their story. How is it that other authors are not, then, accused of condoning rape? A list of titles comes to mind, immediately. I have never heard of attributing the subject matter to the author's predilections. This is new for me, and as an ideal, that would mean that Mark Twain was a racist.

In one of my upcoming books, there are sections that have topics that are not part of my philosophy, but are essential to the story. I dread that I might then be accused of 'being of the mind of my character(s).'

Nov 12, 2009, 1:54pm Top

51: Nice try, but no cigar. Trying to pretend that Rand's protagonists do things that she would not approve of is simply silly.

Rand's protagonists embody her philosophy. They are written not as human characters but as philosophical statements. This is one of the many reasons that she was an awful writer.

Nov 12, 2009, 1:55pm Top

53: I will let others weigh in here on the specific issue of how Rand feels about rape, since I didn't read the novels.

However there are big differences in the tone of books/movies and it also is important to make a distinction as to whether characters that do the troubling things are the heroes or not. In Mark Twain racism is called out for what it is, and though untaught, his hero specifically decides he'd rather literally go to hell (I am using the word literally here because he really does believe that is what will happen) than support slavery. That's one of the most powerful scenes I've ever read in my life. On the other hand some James Bond movies that show him slapping girls and then they immediately hop into bed with him and fall into line, those really bother me and I would say that while Mark Twain is clearly anti-racist, those movies are just as clearly sexist.

Nov 12, 2009, 2:25pm Top

You will have to be content with the fact that I disagree with your assessment of her work, and calling for her to be raped, placing today's woes on her shoulders and sending her to a Gulag seem not only un-Christian...well, I'll leave it there.

Cue laugh track.

Since you are a fan of Rand, I'll follow her writing style and write some strident, repetitious, and overlong. Sade minus the subtlety.

1. Rand clearly wanted to be raped. She's what one would call a masochist. In another universe, she's probably an equally terrible erotica writer. Ann Rice minus the talent.

2. Blaming Rand for today's economic woes. She's clearly guilty of them. "But she writes fiction, so she's innocent!" Didn't work at Nuremberg and it ain't workin' here. Free markets occasionally break down and systematically collapse. Part of their innate rationalism. Sure, humans get in the way and lives are destroyed. But those lives are those of the weak and the poor and the lazy. They are lice and should be exterminated like the vermin that they are. Thus sayeth John Galt. Rand's work was a blunt, turgid, overwritten critique of Communism. Fair's fair. If her econo-jihadists can't deal with a little substantiated criticism on a gorram discussion board, well, Somalia is nice place to live for immature libertarians with no aesthetic taste.

3. Ayn Rand was a vehement anti-Christian. And sending her to a Gulag -- she might make a nice trustee -- is not only anti-Christian, but completely in step with her authoritarian "philosophy," if her poorly written, drug-addled, overlong screeds of trenchant tedium can be categorized as such.

Rand makes Bolsheviks look merciful and Stephanie Meyer seem talented.

Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 4:20pm Top

54> Your statement doesn't make any sense and is unsupported by any factual data about her personal conduct, or sexual proclivities. Unless, of course, you, at some point, 'bedded her' and can attest to her sexual appetites. A nice Havana will do.

52> If you have authored something then why do you rip at another author with such vehemence? Do you think all authors should write the same way, and with the same ideas? Why is it that it is okay for many other mainstream authors to write about a rape scene, but it is not okay for her? I don't get the anger, nor do I get the vitriol. What books did you author? I'm always open to reading new things, and I hope that your characters are free from defect and devoid of any inclination to violence or rape.

56> Rand clearly wanted to be raped? I think you just like to tweak people, and don't really have the thought processes that you exhibit for the rest of us. The more extreme your responses, the more I tend to sense that this is so.

Nuremberg and Rand as comparative, regarding rape? Yikes! With a reach like that you should try out for the local b-ball team. I must admit, though, it did bring peals of laughter through the studio, when I read your comment aloud. Ease up, m'sieur. It's just a discussion about a writer. As for relegating anyone who doesn't agree with you to Somalia, and calling him/her immature names...well, when I stop smiling at these childish antics I'll send you a cookie.

I appreciate intelligent discourse and disagreement is an integral part of the experience, but when it becomes a personal attack, as it has for a few, then it loses its flavor. I wrote that I disagreed with the statements made about an author, and most of the responses have exhibited anger and personal attacks, but none have demonstrated unequivocally that Rand condoned the act of rape. When the attributes of our characters become assigned to authors I will fear for our creativity.

Added after edit: 54> I visited your page, and you have authored work, so I pose a question to you: if your new manuscript is fiction, are all of the characteristics - good and bad - of your protagonists and antagonists, your personal characteristics? I have not read your manuscript, of course, so I cannot make specific notations regarding same.

Nov 12, 2009, 4:26pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Nov 12, 2009, 4:31pm Top


If you read through this you will discover some pretty weird stuff about Rand and her little cult or whatever you would call the group.

Actually there is stuff out there which is on record about her "sexual proclivities" - including some pretty disturbing personal tendencies. So it's not just characters in her fiction.

Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 4:35pm Top

58> You must forgive me for my sidestep, as I was trying to address many issues at once, and dinner called between paragraphs, causing me to forget that small part. I will address it now: I found your comment to be an opinion, rather than a statement of fact, which is how I view your statements in this message. You have presented a valid review of her work - as you perceive it. Is it not allowed for another to see it differently? Or do a few writers decide what is good for all readers? If you don't have any objection, I would prefer to think for myself.

Edited for this note: I was responding to a point presented, which is no longer there, so this may seem detached from the conversation.

Nov 12, 2009, 4:41pm Top

59> Thank you for the link, and I did follow it. There is definitely some weirdness to the history, about which I have never been in disagreement, however, I did not see anything that substantiated claims that she condoned rape. Did I miss something, or was there another link within the link that would provide this information?

Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 4:45pm Top

Okay Ayn Rand...but Sarah Palin? Sarah Palin gets a mega buck book deal while mid-list authors continue to get cut and pared away until all that's left are celeb tell-alls and self-serving, media savvy cant? We've whittled fifteen minutes (of fame) down to fifteen seconds--and desperate people are pretending to lose their kids in giant balloons.

Yes, indeed. Stra-a-a-nge times...

Nov 12, 2009, 4:51pm Top

57: First, let me be clear: I have not "authored" work, I have written it. Do you need me to explain the distinction?

No, obviously all of the characteristics of fictional characters, good and bad, are not the personal characteristics of their authors. In literature, it's taken as given that humans are flawed, and that they act badly at times.

Your problem is that you're mistaking Ayn Rand's work with literature. It is not.

Rand's novels are political/philisophical screeds. She is not concerned with language, and makes no effort to construct believable, human characters with recognizable flaws. She seeks only to hammer in her point. Her books are cheap dramas, the work of a second-rate screenwriter who uses structure as a blunt instrument and lectures her readers through the mouths of her protagonists in extended speeches.

Rand deliberately created her protagonists to embody the philosophical ideal she was peddling. They were never intended to be flawed creatures through which she could address the human condition. She did not allow them to contradict her views.

When Howard Roark rapes Dominique in The Fountainhead, he's doing (as an ideal man) what Rand sees as his entitlement. The only defence we can raise for Rand here is that she did not see this as rape (although most readers disagree); she felt, somehow, that this was consensual sex.

Rand's defence, essentially, was that she asked for it. ("If it was rape, it was rape by engraved invitation.") If you don't see that as a problem, I don't know what to say to you.

Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 5:25pm Top



I'm sure those uses for books were quite interesting, but I didn't get past the site's sponsor, Lingerie Diva.

More interesting than Rand!

Nov 12, 2009, 9:36pm Top

Had to go back and look because I completely missed that! Maybe it's too long since I took my head out of a book.

Nov 13, 2009, 2:25am Top

Leave a thread running long enough, any thread, and it will inevitably pass through some sort of rant about Rand. It may be a universal law of nature, or something.

Nov 13, 2009, 4:39am Top

This group has a love-hate relationship with Rand. We love to hate her. I consider that a point in our favour...

We also have a similar relationship with Stephenie Meyer. Oh, and Michael Crichton. And JK Rowling. And... well, plenty of others who are allegedly writers. But then there is a clue in the name of the group...

Nov 13, 2009, 11:27am Top

66: It's the Literary Snobs correllary of Godwin's Law.

Nov 13, 2009, 12:06pm Top

63> Wonderful post.

66> This is not a universal law. It's the unfortunate side-effect of having a prominent member (kwolff) who endlessly repeats the same five or six posts, regardless of the topic being discussed.

Edited: Nov 13, 2009, 12:15pm Top

63> Perhaps you could save the condescending tone for family gatherings. It is likely that they have become used to it by now.

Authored: To be the author of: write. (American Heritage Dictionary, from your side of the pond.)

I will alert you, when I need your tutoring skills.

You continue to push your interpretation of her writing on me, as if I should agree with you. I don't. The scene in question was fiction! How you equate that with an author's personal desire to be raped defies belief. I don't agree with your interpretation. I came away from reading Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead with a different sense about the work, and for you to suggest that I should think and feel as do you is beyond arrogance. I disagree. Is there a personal need, at your end, to be right about this issue that requires my capitulation to your interpretation? If so, I fear there will be great disappointment at your house. I do apologize for any discomfort this may cause you.

As a gesture of good will, I think I will end my part of this discussion. There is nothing more for me to say about it.

Nov 13, 2009, 12:57pm Top

Wait a second. Post 63 was a calm and well reasoned argument. What is your alternate interpretation of the work and scene in question? That the work in question is fictional has never been debated.

Edited: Nov 14, 2009, 9:57pm Top

>70 K.J.: - You do realise, of course, that Rand's work has all been about her philosophy, Objectivism, so though it is fictional, everything is according to her philosophy? And her "ideal humans" happen to like rape?

Also, you say that our interpretation of her writing is being pushed on you, but as this is an argument, haven't you done the same? That's... well, the whole point of an argument. To get the other side to agree. Right?

Nov 15, 2009, 5:57am Top

72> I might agree with you in other respects, but do you really think that the 'whole' point of an argument is 'to get the other side to agree'?

Nov 15, 2009, 6:06am Top

"Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around my eyes, look into my eyes..."

Nov 15, 2009, 6:16am Top

74> Exactly :)

Nov 15, 2009, 11:30am Top


"I came here for an argument!"

"Oh, this is Abuse."

Nov 16, 2009, 3:06am Top

>73 Third_cheek: - In spirit and philosophy, no. In practicality, generally, but not always.

Good point - I should think more before I post.

>76 kswolff: - One would think I'd have thought of that use of the argument, considering I quite often participated when I was younger.

Nov 16, 2009, 4:04am Top

77> Me too.

Back to book burning.

Presumably books burn best if you tear them open, and I would imagine that few of those who the burning on an industrial scale actually bothered to tear them apart before throwing them to the pyre. Perhaps there are landfills of half-burnt masterpieces waiting to be resurrected...

I feel a story coming on.

Edited: Nov 19, 2009, 1:34pm Top

78> in which connection may I recommend The City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish:Greek Lives in Roman Egypt which described a papyrus dump found in Egypt.

Nov 19, 2009, 4:47pm Top

56> No one WANTS to be raped. You can discuss the ridiculousness of her being a rape-apologist all you want, but wishing rape on her for it makes you just like her, in that respect.

Nov 20, 2009, 10:07am Top

80: Is that why rape fantasies are so popular in erotica? Funny what the market demands sometimes.

Nov 20, 2009, 10:23am Top


I would imagine that there's a world of difference between a 'rape' fantasy and a tacit agreement that one is available to actually be raped and all that that might entail. I'm sure you realise this and are just playing devil's advocate, otherwise someone might be tempted to think you have a very shallow understanding of human desires and motivations - but I suspect you are not stupid... :)

Jan 6, 2010, 6:52am Top

83> As much as it pains me to hear about books being burned, one has to admire their creative solution to a serious problem. My heart goes out to folks who find themselves in this position.

Jan 6, 2010, 8:14am Top

Over here they're using hay and various recycled products as insulation for houses. Can't we do the same with old Stephen King and James Patterson books? Sophie Kinsella and Candace Bushnell tomes converted to toilet paper? Surely there's something more creative to do with books past their prime than pulp them or burn them.

Jan 6, 2010, 8:26am Top

Converting James Patterson and Dan Brown books to toilet paper is no good. Toilet paper is supposed to wipe shit off your arse, not deposit it on there.

Jan 6, 2010, 9:22am Top

My, my, someone rolled off the wrong side of his prison bunk this morning. Feeling a little crusty and scatological today, Monsieur Sales? I note the weather in England has been lousy of late. Perhaps it is affecting your disposition, hmmm?

Jan 6, 2010, 9:38am Top

It's just your usual Monday morning angst... which I get on Wednesday because I only work Wednesday to Friday.

The weather here, while not great, is better than it has been - yes, it's snowed, but it hasn't frozen overnight. So getting about is more difficult than normal, but at least you're not in danger of breaking your neck. The UK has never figured out how to cope with any weather other than mild rain.

Jan 6, 2010, 10:49am Top

I have just received an e-mail from a firm of solicitors and wish to categorically state that I had no intention of impugning Mr. Sales' character when I said, in jest, that he slept on a "prison bunk" (message #87).

I assure one and all that his lengthy criminal record was completely unknown to me and that his present incarceration in an unnamed medium security facility in his home country is both tragic and unfortunate.


Apologies to Mr. Sales, his family and very tiny circle of friends if any offense was given...

Jan 6, 2010, 10:54am Top

I suppose I'd better pencil in that planned invasion of Canada for this year then...

Jan 6, 2010, 11:18am Top

Just don't invade through Port Huron.

Jan 7, 2010, 9:21am Top

And on a related topic, I posted something on my blog which will I hope cause some discussion - Science fiction: the last bastion of the rational?.

Jan 7, 2010, 10:19am Top

Sharp piece, Ian...

Jan 7, 2010, 10:26am Top

Ta. It was inspired by a piece in an online magazine about the Texas Education Board working to remove all references to evolution in school textbooks. They also plan to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy, and to change all uses of the word "democratic" to "republican". See here.

Makes me glad the Atlantic exists...

Jan 7, 2010, 1:55pm Top

94> And it makes me glad that I am on this side of it.

Feb 12, 2010, 9:29pm Top

* Sigh * is right, chum. This is one thread I would LOVE to see die out because of lack of material. Unfortunately...

Good catch, all readers (snobs or otherwise) need to see this.

Feb 13, 2010, 1:24pm Top

Funny how the Christian Right and Radical Islam dislike the same topics -- Jews, lesbians, independent minds, liberals. Makes the fatuous assertions of bottom-feeding scumbags like Dinesh D'Souza and GOP Kingmaker Pat Robertson oddly similar to Abu Bakar and Mohammad Qutb About the only types of Jews the Right tolerates are Ayn Rand -- who, like Stalin and Pol Pot changed her name to something more aggressive and militaristic -- and the ones that convert to Christianity.

Needless to say, economic collapse and political paralysis make for ample opportunities for these morally degenerate parasites. Desperate people in desperate times equals higher quotas for these soul-sucking gits. I think it's high time we take the gloves off and start hitting below the belt. Time to fight dirty and obliterate this mess.

Feb 13, 2010, 3:10pm Top

Calling Pat Robertson a "GOP Kingmaker" is giving him waaaay too much credit.

Feb 13, 2010, 4:23pm Top

>98 kswolff:

You go, K! We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-... no wait, since this:


Feb 13, 2010, 5:12pm Top

99: I'd say it's a fairly accurate assessment, since GOP presidential hopefuls usually insinuate themselves in his general direction. Like this precious pic:


Why Robertson, God's handpicked homophobic megaphone, would choose to hang around a philandering, occasional cross-dressing autocrat like Giuliani is further proof that politics is all about strange bedfellows. Heck, in the Sixties, the Democrats were a jerry-rigged coalition-of-convenience between Northern Progressives, Big Labor, and the racist pigs of the South. (Until 1964, when the Klantastic "family values" types -- except Zell Miller, that dude is hardcore -- decided to join the Party of Lincoln.) Now the coalition-of-convenience is firmly held by the GOP, a madcap alliance of theocrats and autocrats.

Stranger things have happened:


Don't let the different mustaches fool you, Islamic mullahs and Christian clerics and Jewish rabbis all found a 2-Minute Hate they can celebrate together:


Feb 14, 2010, 11:53am Top

"You shall know them by their fruits."

Edited: Feb 18, 2010, 1:00pm Top

At both ends of the political spectrum, easily excited people are able to discern totalitarian machinations in the way that media are shaped and controlled.

School boards and and universities ban or sanction certain books, due to moral or political objections.

Yet in North America, at least, federal governments don't actively ban literature (I know it can be argued that national and regional art councils, in the way they dole out funding, act as implicit censors).

Are there any group members out there, who have lived and read in a part of the world where literature has been overtly and unapologetically banned by government? I'd be interested in hearing how such bans affect the reading public. Do people take these bans seriously? Do they cooperate? Do they actively seek out the forbidden works?

I read the article linked to below and was curious.


anna, any comments?

Feb 18, 2010, 1:22pm Top

Yes, that article was a very good description of how the censor works in Egypt.

It's very hit or miss, and there are lots of pirated copies of films and music available that is foreign. The main issue of censorship is that it limits availability of Egyptian produced movies/books/music.

They didn't really care when I brought in many boxes of books from overseas. They opened one box and picked up one book at random and decided I was OK.

Egypt is not a very reading oriented society and a very small percentage of the population would be aware of and indignant about the banning of a particular book. Movies are a much bigger issue, and yes people do tend to want to see things they are not allowed to see.

On the other hand extremists think more stuff should be banned. They mentioned the Naguib Mahfouz attack in the article but didn't mention that other writers/critics have been attacked by extremists. One guy named Farag Foda, I think he was a critic, was attacked and either very badly hurt or killed, I cannot remember which.

I have seen very hard hitting Egyptian movies that deal with sensitive issues - I guess they had to work with the censors to find an acceptable level but to me, the viewer, they were pushing the envelope a little bit, compared to the mainstream movies. Not a lot of graphic sex but a lot of implied or partly shown sexual violence, for example, that was quite disturbing.

Feb 18, 2010, 4:25pm Top

Censorship in the UAE was equally hit and miss. Oddly, it was stricter in Dubai than in Abu Dhabi. I heard of several people having DVDs taken off them in the airport because they were considered "unsuitable". Books, they never bothered about.

One time, on my return to Abu Dhabi, when I was called up to have my bags checked by customs, I put the hand luggage containing the DVDs at my feet as I hefted my suitcase onto the bench. The customs officer never asked to look in the hand luggage, so none of the DVDs were checked. The suitcase contained some clothes and lots of books. He asked, "Just books?" I said, "Yes, just books."

Incidentally, hard-hitting Egyptian movies... "The Yacoubian Building". Recommended.

Feb 18, 2010, 5:07pm Top

Beardo, I don't doubt that circumstances could return book banning to the United States (actually if you are fortunate enough to know how to build a nuclear weapon publication of your book will likely be shut down and if the book is competent not resumed after a court hearing). It is not so long since Henry Miller was banned in the U.S. I was an undergraduate when his ban was lifted.

The people of my milieu (outside the home) thought book banning was wrong but part of the prerogative of government. The proper response was to call for change. Speaking one's mind has been attacked in other contexts in the U.S. and could be attacked again in the matter of objecting to censorship.


Feb 18, 2010, 5:14pm Top


Thanks for the comments. Do you know if books, once banned, were illicitly copied or shared?

Regarding Farag Foda: How infuriating and sad.




Did you find that authorities were more preoccupied with what was coming in, rather than what was produced internally?

My impression of the UAE is that government control is comprehensive. Did publishers even try to produce books that might upset the government?

Edited: Feb 18, 2010, 5:17pm Top

As far as I was aware, there were no books produced locally, other than a small British publisher who produced heritage and nature books - actually printed, I think, in London. But there were a number of Arabic and English newspapers, and the government certainly kept a firm watch on them. All films shown at cinemas and television programmes were censored, as were all video-tapes and DVDs sold in the country. Magazines even had nudity blacked out in them.

Feb 18, 2010, 5:37pm Top

108: When I lived in Saudi Arabia (mid 90s for only one year thankyouverymuch) they blacked out Blondie's legs in the Blondie/Dagwood cartoons. It was pretty funny. They'd also cut pig pictures out of children's books.

104: I know that some banned books were sold "under the counter" in brown paper wrappers like dirty magazines. My ex husband purchased the unabridged Arabic language 1001 Nights, which has been banned ever since probably pre-Revolution, in a brown paper wrapper. It was printed in Beirut.

As I said, most Egyptians are not big readers. I didn't live among those very few who were, so I don't know how they got around censorship or if it mattered much to them.

Mar 18, 2012, 1:55pm Top

Apr 9, 2012, 8:01pm Top

111: Well, people are still idiots. Sounds like they are too busy being overprotective of their kids than actually taking the time to read the books they challenge. Then again, Norman Bates and Oedipus had overprotective mothers, they both turned out OK.

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