RARA-AVIS: Re: Harmful books

From: Al Guthrie ( allanguthrie@ukonline.co.uk)
Date: 19 Jun 2003

----- Original Message ----- From: "Mario Taboada" < matrxtech@yahoo.com>

<<Of course a book can be harmful. Particularly when a person gets inspired for it *and* knows nothing about taking responsibility for his own actions. Propaganda works on this principle.>>

I can see how a book might be harmful to a five-year-old. I wouldn't recommend a Spillane to my nephew, although I suspect he'd just find it boring. I had assumed we were talking about adults, who, by law, are responsible for their own actions. I'd guess that reading Spillane is likely to be the least of your worries if you fail to take responsibility for your actions. Anyway, I don't believe you can predict what might influence such people. Maybe a "feel good" novel would push them over the edge, as Christmas does with depressives. Or maybe they'd read that book about the guy who walks on water and try it themselves and drown.

<<I will always defend freedom of expression, included the press, but bad ideas are much more dangerous than bad actions.>>

You're joking, right? The idea of killing someone is worse than the action of killing them? An idea isn't harmful. Acting on it might be.

<<Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), it's common that bad ideas only reveal themselves as bad when some time has gone by. Since the same happens with good ideas, it's a bad idea to prohibit or limit the expression of ideas, period. But that doesn't negate the possibly devastating harm that bad ideas can have.>>

But surely Spillane's novels are considerably lacking in ideas. That's the point. They're action-based and don't ask anybody to think too much. Hence the cliched right wing attitudes. I think you give Spillane far too much credit and his readers too little.


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