by Charlie Leck
I wrote the following essay nearly 20 years ago. It is about my own bibliomania, about book-burning (or book banning) and about one of the finest, dearest men I've ever known. The essay comes from a book we privately published in 1994. I came upon it because we are now republishing the book because a number of people have expressed a wish to own a copy.
“When I was new at such discussions [about the First Amendment] I insouciantly asked a fundamentalist Christian opponent (“Oh, come on now, Reverend”) if he knew of anyone who had been ruined by a book. (Mark Twain claimed to have been ruined by salacious parts of the Bible.)...“The books he and his supporters wanted out of the school, one of mine among them, were not pornographic, although he would have liked our audience to think so. (There is the word “motherfucker” one time in my Slaughterhouse-Five, as in “Get out of the road, you dumb motherfucker.” Ever since that word was published, way back in 1969, children have been attempting to have intercourse with their mothers. When it will stop no one knows.) The fault of Slaughterhouse-Five, James Dickey’s Deliverance, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, several books by Judy Blume, and so on, as far as the Reverend was concerned was that neither their authors nor their characters exemplified his notion of ideal Christian behavior and attitudes.”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.”
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