For a friend.
Let's call her, I don't know, uuuhhhhh....Mary-yeah, good name. Anyway, my friend, Mary, has, like, a huge pet peeve, which, she didn't even know was that big of a pet peeve until she started working at, a kind of library. Not a real library. Like an extra library, only for kids. Anyway, this friend, so I'm told, was sitting there at the library thing, checking out books, as one does at libraries, right? Anyway, as she's helping kids find books to read and reshelving returns and all that, she keeps seeing these kinds of, well, these certain kinds of books...on the shelves. Books that my friend doesn't think are really appropriate for children, or really any people, no matter what walk of life, to be reading. So, one day, after volunteering (note: out of the generosity of her heart) every week for, like, three years, my friend finally cracks and removes the books from the shelves. And marks them as damaged in the computer system. And puts them in her backpack. And takes them home. And hides them under her bed. So the children don't find them. Because it horrifies her, to the depth of her soul toes*, to imagine her family reading them. Because, dudes. They. Are. That. Bad.
I'm not kidding.
Maybe you missed it. Let's lean in for a closer look, shall we?
Right. Right there. You see it? Based, which is just another word for abridged. Slashed. Mutilated. Dumbed-down. Snipped like an eight week old kitten**.
I mean, guys? The book ended with this sentence:
They ate and drank and talked and laughed. The day ended with Beth playing carols and everyone singing.
Now, maybe you're all like, eh, never liked Little Women anyway, all sweet and way too quaint and what not. Who cares!?
But, I'm sorry.
First off, you have crazy coming out of every orifice of your body, and I'm not sure we can still be friends.
Second, it was not the only "book" on the shelves.
Robinson Crusoe, widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time, had it's description of cannibalism changed from this:
When I came to the place my very blood ran chill in my veins, and my heart sunk within me, at the horror of the spectacle; indeed, it was a dreadful sight, at least it was so to me, though Friday made nothing of it. The place was covered with human bones, the ground dyed with their blood, and great pieces of flesh left here and there, half-eaten, mangled, and scorched; and, in short, all the tokens of the triumphant feast they had been making there, after a victory over their enemies. I saw three skulls, five hands, and the bones of three or four legs and feet, and abundance of other parts of the bodies; and Friday, by his signs, made me understand that they brought over four prisoners to feast upon; (...) I found Friday had still a hankering stomach after some of the flesh, and was still a cannibal in his nature; but I showed so much abhorrence at the very thoughts of it, and at the least appearance of it, that he durst not discover it: for I had, by some means, let him know that I would kill him if he offered it.
When we came to the place in the sand where we left the two cannibals, he showed me that he wanted to uncover and eat them. I let him know that this was very wrong.
Tell me, Scholastic Junior Classics, exactly where did the chunks of flesh, the blood soaked ground and mangled bodies go? Huh? I mean, if my kid isn't ready to read a semi-biographical detailed description of a cannibalistic feast written in 1719, then, maybe they should just stick to something gentler, like The Wind in the Willows.
Oh, waaaaiiit. No. Sorry, gosh, never mind, you ruined that one too.
Goodness, how can we expect the children of today to understand these stories if we don't chop out 80% of the words and then define the last 101 at the bottom of the page?
I mean, what was Anna Sewell even thinking writing all those words? This one is soooo much easier.
|And under 60 pages too! (eye roll) Score.|
So, I guess, what I'm asking, hypothetically, for a friend, named Mary, is this: Is what Mary did really considered stealing?
Now, before you don your judgmental righteous hat (you know, the red one***), and give an answer, hear Mary out. Because, the other day, we were drinking coffee together and we discussed the moral ramifications of her actions, and Mary likened it more to, oh, what did she say, eradicating invasive plants from National Parks? No. Recycling? Noooo that wasn't it either. Oh, yeah! She said what she did was more like adopting one of those tiny traffic circles in her neighborhood, disposing of the used heroin syringes and planting wildflowers. To save the honeybees. And by extension, mankind itself.
So, maybe my real hypothetical question, for a friend, named Mary is this: Is literature something that needs to be saved, like the honeybee? Do we have a moral right to protect the "intellectual and emotional development" of current and future generations? And, can it be achieved through gorilla type tactics?
If we have replaced all 16 removed "books" with the real thing****.
Using our own money.
Because, let's face it, Mary would do anything for these honeybees:
|And by extension, yours too.|
*Yes, souls have toes, and you can't prove otherwise.
**Because you should spay and neuter your pets, not your classic literature.
***This isn't the hat you thought it would be, is it?
You judgmental person, you.
****Complete list of removed (aka damaged) "books". Judge away:
- "Black Beauty" "by" Anna Sewell (2 books)
- "The Wind in the Willows" "by" Kenneth Grahame
- "Anne of Green Gables" "by" L.M. Montgomery
- "Bleak House" "by" Charles Dickens
- "A Little House Chapter Book: Laura #1 The Adventures of Laura & Jack" "by" Laura Ingalls Wilder
- "The Wizard of Oz" "by" L. Frank Baum
- "Alice in Wonderland" "by" Lewis Carroll
- "Pride and Prejudice" "by" Jane Austen
- "Robinson Crusoe" "by" Daniel Defoe
- "White Fang" "by" Jack London
- "Martin Chuzzlewit" "by" Charles Dickens
- "The Mutiny on Board HMS Bounty" "by" William Bligh
- "Little Women" "by" Louisa May Alcott
- "Heidi" "by" Johanna Spyri
- "The Secret Garden" "by" Frances Hodgson Burnett