The New Clarion

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Too Prescient for My Taste

August 6th, 2009 by Jim May · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

There is a big controversy brewing over one of the “unintended consequences” of recent legislation intended to protect children from lead in toys: children’s books printed before 1985 are disappearing from the market.

Whether they meant to do it or not, this “cleansing” of the children’s book market in favor of books printed after 1985, will do the same for the ideas printed after that date.

Note in particular this comment from the linked article at The Atlantic:

Burning or banning books is one of the worst things that can happen in an open society. But in this case it is not the CONTENT of the books that is being restricted, but the potentially dangerous materials that were used to create the books.

The following simply could not be more apt:

You don’t want some recalcitrant hacks to come out with treatises that will wreck our entire program, do you? If you breathe the word “censorship” now, they’ll all scream bloody murder… But if you leave the spirit alone and make it a simple material issue – not a matter of ideas, but just a matter of paper, ink and printing presses… [y]ou’ll make sure make sure that nothing dangerous gets printed or heard – and nobody is going to fight over a material issue.

— Dr. Floyd Ferris discussing Directive 10-289, from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”.

This passage was already close to the mark vis-a-vis McCain-Feingold (“Money is not speech”); it’s nearly literal in this case.

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