The Way I See It: History on pages
I sit this morning with my cup of coffee, headphones on as Gordon Doweny of the Tragically Hip sings the lyrics of Nautical Disaster in my headphones. Eating my morning cereal, I read the news sites, catch up on last night’s NHL scores (ya know, ’cause I’m Canadian and it’s like a need I have) and cruise to Environment Canada’s weather site praying that this cold snap is finally over. Maybe mother nature will stop teasing us in the bald, flat prairies of Saskatchewan.
In the background, Twhirl is running, updating me on what some people are saying. @jennybeanses posts a retweet from Neil Gaiman. I’ve read Neil’s works from Sandman to Death and beyond. I remember reading Stardust so many years ago, and it brings back memories. But the retweet is about a news article. It can be found here at City Journal. I won’t reword the article itself here, so I suggest reading it. However, to summarize, the article talks about a law in the United States that seemed to be a feel good law, to protect children after the lead scare from products made in China. Lead found in toys, clothes, book bags and the like.
Even lead found in books.
Before 1985, lead was used in books to create pigments. These books can be tested for levels of lead, but the process is extremely expensive. To grasp the effects of the law, here’s the clarrification at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Still, it makes me think of all the books I had as a kid. And all the books I have now. I love books. Digital media cannot replace the love of a book. Books have a certain smell to them, a texture, that makes reading the book even more special. The pages themselves have a sort of feel about them that makes them come alive with the words. I think of all the books I had before 1985. The Richard Scarry books, all the Hardy Boys books, Dr. Seuss, and even the comics I had. World’s Finest, Detective Comics, and more. My parents also have a large number of books pre 1985. I’ve read several of them, but two stick out in my mind. In His Steps (read for a school book report) and The Last of the Mohicans. The last I read when I was 10 just to spite my parents after they told me it was too violent. It finally made a bit more sense when I reread it again at age 18.
Books are cherished treasures. As was stated in the article, the amount of lead in books is more than likely very minimal. I wonder, does this just give people the right to destroy books? It wasn’t so long ago where we as a society looked on in disgust at book burnings of the past. No one country can say they were not affected by such acts. Book burnings took place in long gone Nazi Germany, England, United States, even Canada. So glad that we’ve moved past that era of permanent censorship. But is this now the 21 century’s version of “legal book burning”?
And then Neil Young’s Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World begins to play on my iTunes.
I can only hope that some intelligence is used when considering the ramifications of this law. And then I think how lucky I am to live in Canada, where books before 1985 can still exist. I only hope that the federal government does not rush to adopt such a law in this country.
Until next time…
…keep ‘em flyin’.
Right, so I read this article that Tim posted above. I was outraged to the point of crying. So much history gone to where? The city dump. Why? Lead? That’s right children chomp down on those classic little golden books because everyone knows eating them will kill you.
Forgive my sarcasm, but it’s needed as I mentally process how much this country has just screwed over small shop owners and thrift stores. This new law says that books before 1985 should be removed entirely and tossed away because they are hazardous to the youths of the nation. Well maybe they don’t remember having these lead filled books when they were kid, but dammit I should as hell remember having them. I remember running my fingers over the delicious colors that entertained me long before a computer.
And don’t even get me started on the books that have more educational value than some of the crap that people read today. Sure there are podcast books out there, I’ve listened to a total of three so far, but as Tim said, books have a feel to them. Being able to cuddle up under a blanket with a good read is better than anything I can listen to on a podcast. Have I read the classics? Not all of them but look I’m almost 25 and still living and gained a better respect for books.
I didn’t grow up reading comics as a kid, but I have worked with comics. Millions and millions of comics for a small business owner who started collecting books and then was told by his wife to get them out of the basement of their home. He started to sell them online through newkadia.com. I was one of two kids he employed to take these, sometime really bad condition, comics give them back boards and slip them into acid free protective sleeves. While I didn’t grow up reading them, I bet I read enough to keep up with conversations about comics that come up between myself and my friends.
I don’t worry about Newkadia’s business because of the fact it falls under the collector’s loophole. That’s right. Collector’s loophole. That means anything that has been told it’s a collector or is old enough to be considered collectible, gets away with that. But people will exploit that. Bookstores will become book collection stores. Well guess what. I collect books. Most of the books on my shelves are from before 1985, I have first editions of some books and I bet that I have several books that are filled with that yummy lead that we all love.
Pointing out what Tim said, “the 21 century’s version of ‘legal book burning’” it just goes to show that history repeats itself over and over. Long before Christ was born, books were burned. Chinese philosphy books were burned in 213 B.C people buried alive because they refused to conform to the censorship. In the 1600′s Martin Luther’s works were burn because they went against the Catholic religion and against the Pope. How about something a little more recent? Nazi’s they burned Jewish authors books I don’t think I need explain why. Even more recently Harry Potter books, burned in countless American cities because they “taught witchcraft” and “Is the work of a woman involved with Satan.” To quote Hagrid in the very first Harry Potter book “Codswallop in my opinion.”
Book teach things in general. The biggestt thing is how to read! See Spot run, run Spot run. Are we to start plugging lead free headphones into our children’s ears and allowing them to listen to their favorite bedtime story because people can’t pull their heads far enough out of their butts to see the light?
Or should we risk upsetting the Children Services departments because we don’t spend enough time with our children or because our children have limited vocabularies and even more limited social skills? No thanks. I’ll continue to look for kids books at yard sales, pay my twenty-five cents and thank them for allowing me to have a lead filled item to spend QUALITY TIME with my son before bed.
Please pass the lead.
Keep it real and rockin’