THE  HISTORY  OF  CENSORSHIP  BY  DESTRUCTION

 

B.C.

1200       The Hebrews practiced herem (total destruction) against the                     Canaanites (genocide) and obliterated their religious centers and                  objects of devotion (iconoclasm).

 

  170       Antiochus Epiphanes destroyed Jewish Scriptures, as he tried to force                Greek culture upon Palestine.

 

A.D.

   55        Books of magic were burned at Ephesus after the preaching of Paul                    (Acts 19:19).  They probably included works by thaumaturgists,                    astrologers, healers, alchemists, and other pseudo-scientists.  Their                value at that time was set at 50,000 pieces of silver.  Just one of                    these books would be priceless today.

 

60-300    Roman persecutions included destruction of Christian Scriptures.

 

  300       After Christianity became ascendant, it set about destroying Greek            temples, statues, and books.  Works of art were smashed.  Now,              even a broken statue or a scrap of paper from that time is of great                  value.

 

  642       The Arab conquerors of Egypt burned the great library of Alexandria.                Works of the Greek thinkers were thus lost to history.  The Mus-                   lims also obliterated beautiful mosaics in Christian churches.

 

  725       The Emperor Leo III led in the Campaign of Iconoclasm, which                         smashed Christian statues in churches.  In 787 a council at Nicæa              ended this practice and sanctioned the use of images in churches.

 

1483       The Spanish Inquisistion burned books and heretics in what was                        called the auto da fe (act of faith) - a public bonfire.

 

1490       Savonarola led the people of Florence to burn all works of art and                      costly furnishings as trappings of the Devil.

 

1520       Luther burned the papal edicts against him in a public bonfire.

 

1650       English puritans pillaged Episcopal cathedrals.  Stained glass                              windows were smashed and stone crosses broken off.

 

1917       Russian Revolutionists burned libraries.

 

1940s      German Nazis burned libraries and practiced genocide against Jews                    and gypsies.

 

1970s      Race riots in America destroyed property with the cry, “Burn, baby,                  burn!”

 

 

FAHRENHEIT 451

 

The temperature at which paper burns was taken as the title of a book about a future fascist state in which all reading has been forbidden.  All books are being burned by the state, and secret libraries are hunted out by gestapo-like soldiers.  Intellectuals must meet in clandestine gatherings to discuss literature.  Each reader commits a book to memory so that this literature will be preserved.  Every person is secretly known by the name of the book he has memorized, such as “Hamlet,” “Oliver Twist,” “Moby Dick,” etc.

 

 

 

Fortunately, today “iconoclasm” is no longer used in its literal sense.  Most people have seen that there is a better way:

 

CENSORSHIP BY SELECTION,

NOT DESTRUCTION!