Friday, July 2, 2010

There is More than One Way to Burn a Book.

Library Bashing, Ray Bradbury & Fox News: Opinion

Anna Davlantes, a Fox Chicago News anchor, picked a fight with librarians and book lovers Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?" last week when she posted an editorial with the incendiary headline, "

"With the internet and e-books, do we really need millions for libraries?"  Ms. Davlantes wrote. "[S]hould these institutions -- that date back to 1900 B.C. -- be on the way out?"

Yes, Ms. Davlantes.  The libraries in Alexandria burned down more than four thousand years ago.  What followed were the Dark Ages.  Libraries are fortresses of the First Amendment.  They are not seldom visited Facebook accounts ripe for deactivation.  Open access to libraries is essential to our intellectual and political freedoms.

If Ms. Davlantes were to get her way, books wouldn't be banned, they'd be banished.  Perhaps, as a television journalist, she processes and prioritizes information differently than others.  While essential infotainment tools, by their very nature, television and the internet de-emphasize the quality and provenance of information.  Realistic choices can only be made in the light of adequate information.  Public libraries, which are comprised of bound and digital assets, provides that light.  Readers, browsers, writers, civil libertarians, and television journalists need to join together to support our public libraries - especially in this time of unprecedented unemployment.  Libraries are refuges.  Petition to remove Fox from the Be Kind to Books Club.  Better yet,  join the American Library Association's Freedom to Read Foundation

By way of background, Ms. Davlantes is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A native of Chicago, she grew up in Rogers Park and is a graduate of Lane Tech High School.  Her favorite book, apparently, is  Fahrenheit 451.  While not exactly the book burning fire captain from Bradbury's classic ("Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."), she scares me. 

Parenthetically, Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a rental typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Lawrence Clark Powell Library. He found refuge from his small house and two smaller children at the library.  Close a library, maim a community, perhaps, render a future classic stillborn.   
Ray Bradbury on  Fox TV --  Boy, is this Ironic!
In a 2007 LA Weekly interview, Ray Bradbury, while sitting in front of a giant TV tuned to Fox News, talked about how Fahrenheit 451 was greatly misunderstood. 
Fahrenheit 451 - 1995 publication“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.
His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television’s effect on substance in the news. The front page of that day’s L.A. Times reported on the weekend box-office receipts for the third in the Spider-Man series of movies, seeming to prove his point."
Almost sixty years on, Fahrenheit 451, which was once science fiction, sadly, now appears to have been prophesy.  

Ray Bradbury on Grouch Marx's "You Bet Your Life"



  1. oh wow, that hurt my soul.

  2. I know this is an old post but I find it very funny. You agree with Bradbury's fear of censorship but then go on to make fun of people who watch Fox. This is meant to let people know there is a tv network people should not be watching. Why? Beacause you claim it promotes censorship. You are finding another way to burn a book aren't you?

  3. I believe I took a shot at Fox, not Fox viewers. My recommendation is that Fox support libraries, rather than lobby for their closure.