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21 September 2016

The Book as a Weapon

Heard something on NPR this a.m. that started my stream of consciousness thinking: a follow-up story on the police shooting of a black man who was sitting in a parked car.  The police officers who shot the man alleged that "they saw him with a gun."  His family disputes that, saying he was reading a book.  Wow.  Just think.  The book as a weapon.

Of course, a good hardcover book, maybe The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3, weighing in  at 792 pages or 3.7 pounds would be physically a very good weapon for someone who can bench press a few kilos or throw a mean discus.

And, they always say that the pen is mightier than the sword, although the sword is a lot swifter.

But, as a bookseller, I have to go with the concept that books can be weapons, too.
Some people may say I'm being flippant or facetious, but no, not at all.  Why do you think there's such a thing as a banned book?  Books have been known to slay ignorance as well as boredom, oppression, the status quo and time.  Of course, one actually has to read the book, not simply weigh it or throw it.  On the other hand, books are more available and cheapest in socialist countries, because leaders know that they can also kill free thought and creativity while promoting a specific political or social viewpoint. Think of books like poison, both fast-acting and undetectably slow, spreading a vicious thought or an innovative new vision.

Books can be weapons of mass destruction. Think of books like sunshine vanquishing darkness and barbecuing vampires. Think of books lighting a fire under apathy, jumpstarting an inventor, scientist or entrepreneur, inciting a riot -- like it did in Charleston, NC.

Unfortunately, some activity is just too dangerous for some individuals, like driving while black, like parking while black, like reading a book while black.


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Carolyn said...

Thank you for your kind words. -CChin