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Fahrenheit 451. June 7, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben saw in today’s news that Ray Bradbury had died, joining those other science-fiction titans Isaac Asimov, Michael Crichton, and Frank Herbert somewhere across the universe. This of course reminded me of Mr. Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451 (and the wonderful Julie Christie movie made from it). And that in turn made me think about censorship: Not the censorship of speech, but the far more dangerous censorship of thought itself.

Fahrenheit 451 is about a society where reading books is banned, books are hunted down and publicly burned, and people caught owning or reading books are treated as criminals. (The title is the temperature at which paper catches fire.) People can not only not discuss ideas, they can’t even read them.

Other sci-fi classics address this concept, too: “The Running Man,” the wonderful movie created from Stephen King’s novella; the “Matrix” movies, where your thoughts are created for you; the TV series “The Prisoner;” and, taking the concept to an extreme, “The Stepford Wives” (original version). I’m sure there are many more, and I’m hoping you’ll chime in with your favorites.

I was hoping to end this post with an appropriate quote from our hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin. I think this one fills the bill:

“It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.”




1. narf77 - June 15, 2012

I have to say that Google Cloud and their Apple and Microsoft counterparts are starting to set off my big brother alarm. I see a day in the not too distant future where free internet access and the ability to download what you will with impunity is a true memory of the past rather than an inherent right. I would add profit to ignorance and tyranny in Ben Franklin’s quote…sorry Ben…but I don’t think you would be frowning on my interjection.

Hi Fran! The thought of putting everything in the “cloud” gives us the shivers. Too many hackers, too much data monitoring/manipulation by Big Brother, too much probability that warring nations will take out the entire internet, causing those with their data in the cloud to lose everything, potentially including the ability to communicate and even drive. As for profit, you are so right: As the prophet said, the love of money is the root of all evil.

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