Ray Bradbury died on Tuesday. He was 91 years old. He is best known for his works of science fiction, fantasy, and social commentary. Here are some of his most notable works:
- The Martian Chronicles (1950).
- The Illustrated Man (1951)
- Dandelion Wine (1957)
- Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962).
What isn’t widely known, as reported in Breitbart News, Bradbury, once an admitted liberal, had become a “rock-ribbed conservative who embraced the Tea Party movement in recent years.”
Bradbury is best known for Fahrenheit 451 — the temperature at which paper burns — a chilling tale of government‑suppressed speech through book burning. The fireman’s “job is to burn books, all of which have been banned as unsafe to the state and disturbing to the tranquility of its population.”1 Bradbury’s futuristic yarn has consistently been used by the Left as a warning of what might happen if the Right ever gained political power. There are book burners on the Left (e.g., Nazis and Communists) and book burners on the Right. Paper burns at the same temperature for ideologues on either end of the political spectrum.
In our day, the real book burners are on the Left end of the political spectrum. The Left censors books and contrary opinions on a regular basis, all in the name of “academic freedom.” This censorship is surprising since many of today’s professors were once advocates of free speech in the 1960s. Well, maybe it’s not so surprising. Nat Hentoff, a columnist for the Village Voice, writes that “Students for a Democratic Society and the so‑called ‘free speech movement’ essentially believed in their right to have their free speech. They have not changed all that much.”2 Once these iconoclasts gained their promised teaching posts — using the greased skids of “academic freedom” — they dismantled the tracks for anyone who advocated a different point of view. Their goal was always to wipe out competitive speech (a better definition of free speech).
Therefore we should not be surprised when we learn that Montag — Bradbury’s fireman — is alive and well on college campuses. The college Montags are upset over the content of certain opinions they feel are “offensive.” The entire press run of the Daily Pennsylvanian, the University of Pennsylvania student newspaper, was stolen by a dozen black students after they found a single conservative column “offensive” to their opinionated tastes.
A similar incident happened to the Diamondback, the University of Maryland student newspaper. Ten thousand copies were stolen. These are not isolated happenings. “The Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., which tracks newspaper thefts on campus, reports that 29 campuses have been hit in the past 14 months. Before that, the total was five or six a year.”3
Bradbury’s ominous future has arrived. “Thieves torched large numbers of stolen copies at Penn State and the University of Michigan.”4 My guess is that these youthful Montags imbibed the milk of Fahrenheit 451 but learned nothing of its meat.
Leftists contend that burning books — suppressing ideas — is OK as long as the ideas are contrary to their ideological ideas. The latest ideological hypocrisy comes from the diet Nazis. Banning 16-ounce drinks doesn’t seem to fit their ideological first principle of personal freedom. It’s a fundamental right for a woman to kill her pre-born baby but not purchase a 16-once drink in a restaurant.
- Paul A. Gilster, “‘Fahrenheit’ Revisited,” Atlanta Journal/Constitution (November 14, 1993), L10. [↩]
- Craig Hymowitz, “Are Colleges Paying Lip Service to Free Speech,” An Interview with Nat Hentoff, Campus, 5:1 (Fall 1993), 8. [↩]
- John Leo, “Censorship by theft,” U.S. News & World Report (November 15, 1993), 24. [↩]
- Leo, “Censorship by theft,” 24. [↩]