Thursday, February 21, 2013

A question of censorship...

I was browsing through some second hand books the other day at an op shop when I came across something I just couldn't pass up. Not because I desperately wanted it or it was something I'd been keeping an eye out for, and not because it was valuable. It was just some ratty old paperback with a grotty cover. No, the reason I bought it and took it home was because I just COULDN'T leave it there for someone else to buy.

"Escape from Witchcraft", that was the title. Of course it caught my eye just from that, but once I'd read the blurb I was ... I guess you could say conflicted. Being a witch myself, I was both amused and horrified.

The story was an autobiography, published in the early seventies and detailing a girl's experiences with the occult. Biased of course, as all biographies are, but I admit it riled me up more than most. Here's a bit from the back page.

"Witchcraft is not a thing of the past. Satan is not dead. Young people by the thousands are probing seriously the mysteries of "The Other Side", from seances to satan worship ... most American high schools have their campus "witches and warlocks."  While the drug problem occupies community attention, another epidemic - far more insidious, far more elusive - is spreading among young people ... That is why this book had to be written."

I suppose it's ridiculous to be insulted by a book that was written before I was born, but I acted on instinct.  I didn't want someone else to buy that book. To read it. So I bought it myself to take it out of circulation.

But afterwards when I got it home, I started to feel the twinges of my conscience. Sure I have the right to my beliefs. Sure I have the right to abhor what this stupid little book says. But do I have the right to think I can stop other people from reading it? Isn't that a bit like censorship?

I'd intended to throw the stupid thing away as soon as I got it home, but now it just feels wrong. A bit too much like book burning, if you know what I mean. But it leaves me in a strange situation. What to do with it? I could donate it to a charity, but that doesn't feel right either. Maybe I should just leave it somewhere and let the fates take their course.

I know that in the grand scheme of things my buying it isn't going to make any difference whatsoever, but that's not the point. It's the fact that I THOUGHT it would make a difference. As much as I hate to admit it, it's a difference I don't have any right to make.

Damn, I hate it when I'm being a better person.

40 comments:

  1. You're right....being good is boring. But necessary. :)

    S

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  2. I doubt if very many people ever read it, anyway. I never heard of it, and I was around in the '70s. But I think you should turn it into a positive by using the pages in a craft project - you could decoupage a lamp or a storage box. I'm not being trite, either. It would be a practical way to use the book, and also get rid of it. Have your cake and eat it too!

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    1. That's probably a good idea! Maybe I'll turn it into a folded book star!

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  3. Just take it somewhere and leave it for the universe to deal with!

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    1. That's a good idea, just leave it on a bench somewhere and absolve myself of the responsibility :)

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    2. Use BookCrossing - then you can track where the book ends up.

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  4. I don't think you should worry too much about it and you might as well shred it. There are about 131 000 results on Google so I guess plenty of people have read it and it sounds dead boring. One reviewer said, "The book shows a troubled teenager who, at a time when she has lost all her friends, begins hearing the voice of Satan. She doesn't need Jesus - she needs a psychiatrist!"

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    1. I'm beginning to think an art project might be in the offing :D. Book art is always fun.

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  5. Your gut instict told you to buy it and so it happened for a reason. Go with it and don't worry so much about the whole 'sensorship' aspect. Who knows why some things happen, but divine intervention has it's own purpose behind what does and does not.

    Do with it as you may and have no regrets. ~Blessed be~

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    1. I'm thinking about using it in an art project. Then at least I'm not just tossing it away, or just leaving it somewhere.

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  6. You could always do a giveaway. You get rid of the book, your reader gets to say he/she won something, and the book stays out of circulation. Not that you asked for opinions/solutions.

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    1. LOL! That could be fun. Although I'd feel bad for the poor person who won it.

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  7. I have a problem with the book. I'm not a witch so maybe I'm wrong. I didn't think that being a witch automatically meant devil worship. Since I don't believe in Satan, and I do believe in witches, I'm torn. I think you should destroy the book because it sounds like misinformation could cause more harm than good.

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    1. It's definitely a misleading, offensive book, but I guess an autobiography has the right to be whatever it is.

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  8. I can't ever imagine burning a book and I'm glad you've changed your mind.

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    1. I've just got to come up with a better use for it. Maybe donate it to Lifeline. At least that way it's going to charity.

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  9. I would donate it - BUT, before that, find a book that has a better message in it for the reader, and leave a note inside urging the person who picks it up (like, write on the inside cover!) to check that out for a more unbiased perspective. I'd even include that you practice as a witch, gives credibility.

    At least, I know if I found a book like that in a store, picked it up and found that note, I'd be WAY more intrigued with reading the note than the book itself. And probably then the recommendation that it gives.

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  10. There are just so many books out there written by people that don't know Shit about the subject they are supposedly experts at. I have read a number of books that are total trash. I guess everyone is allowed an opinion but some people are just full of crap.

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  11. I have to agree with the commenter that said you followed an instinct to buy the book. I certainly do not believe in censorship, but at the same time, as a Witch, I cannot condone such blatant misinformation (LIES) as this book purports. Yes it was written 40 years ago, it has a grotty cover, and it just needs to go away.

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  12. That book looks ridiculous. I can't blame you for buying it. I might have bought it too just because it looks so ridiculous. I like the book giveaway idea...it might be funny.

    I think anyone would feel the same way if they felt their personal beliefs were being attacked. I also think you are pretty cool for not wanting to censor what other people read. It's a good thing to wrestle with I think. Figuring out what to do based on your values.

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    1. I love finding funny, quirky and ridiculous books. That's one of the best things about second hand books. This one just got me though, I'm afraid.

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  13. Don't you have to keep that thing around to remind you how ridiculous backward thinking can be? Keep it in your possession and put it on display to start rational conversation or at least a giggle fest?

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    1. I suppose it could be a good conversation starter at dinner parties.

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  14. I say toss it. It's not entertaining. It's not educational. The information it contains sounds skewed and at the very least out dated. Just my opinion.

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    1. You're right on all counts. I'm thinking book art, though.

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  15. Hi, just got to your blog from mine...only read your first few posts (at work should be doing paperwork) but love it...you appear to be my spiritual blogging twin, a geek girl with cats and a SIMS addiction. My aarrgggh peeve is goths in films - especially nightclub scenes...why are nightclubs scenes in films never realistic, it's always the wrong people, in the wrong place with the wrong music. Ruins whole films for me!

    I will definitely be back when guilt isn't making me watch the clock...

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    1. Welcome! By all means, come back later, but for heavens sake don't get into trouble on my account! If you go and get yourself fired ... well, I'm just not equipped to deal with that sort of guilt.

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  16. Your humor and wit are so cleaver. Thank you for your compliments on my outfits, too!

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  17. The problem with books like that is even these days someone will buy it and believe every word written in there. Definitely turn it into an art project. Something beautiful could still be made out of those hateful words.

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  18. I once bought a book at a library sale that was a holocaust denial book, so I could take it home and destroy it, lest any impressionable young person get ahold of it and believe it. I had no qualms.

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    1. I can totally see why you'd do that. I think I'd have burnt it and merrily danced on its ashes.

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  19. I say bury it in your backyard. I don't have anything to support this course of action... It just feels right.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    1. I can bury it and then salt the earth ... or is that for preventing ghosts.

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  20. I find this book hilarious - identifying as a witch myself on most days (my spirituality is sadly all over the place). I would keep it... but then again, I collect vintage books and the cover art would be too magnificent for me to let go of.

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