Last week a group including BYU students decided to burn books in a misguided, offensive protest.
The students weren’t would-be censors, parents condemning the obscenities in Huck Finn or Catcher in the Rye, but burned the books in protest of Provo’s “fascist” dance ordinances.
If you fail to see the connection between literature, dance laws and fascism, you are not alone. The event’s organizers also seem confused.
One attendee told the Salt Lake Tribune that the burning was a satiric attempt to make the public aware of Provo’s restrictions on public dancing.
Another burner told NewsNet the group chose books because “there are a lot of books just floating around.”
A BYU student told NewsNet the group decided to burn books because it was a good way to get attention.
It got attention, but probably not the kind the group was hoping for.
News organizations across the state covering the event, including this one, focused on the image of flaming books. The issue of dance laws was secondary, just as it is in this editorial.
A flier announcing the event invited residents to “join a peaceful book-burning protest of fascist city laws.”
An ironic statement, considering the plan to burn books, an image associated with Nazi Germany and religious intolerance.
But if the group was trying to fight fascism with fascism, they should have burned something pertinent to the protest.
Burn leaves or city laws, not the classics.
The books burned had no connection to Provo and its dance ordinances. A good book is a terrible thing to waste.
We share the protesters’ concerns about Provo dance restrictions. But burning books is not an appropriate way to demonstrate.
And for the book burners, if you are planning further protests of city laws, check out the books of Mahatma Ghandi, Henry David Thoreau, and Barbara Epstein.
For more information, consult your local library.