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In Fahrenheit 451, Beatty's summation of how the novel's book-banning society came about is in part one, page 58 of my edition:
There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals.
Three things are blamed:
- Technology: classics were shortened so they could be read quickly; digests developed; reading had to be quick; reading books became like checking something off of a list--you read a classic summed up in a page so you can keep up with everybody else who's reading it.
- Mass exploitation: fun, fun, fun, in mass. Sports on a massive scale. Anything so you don't have to actually think.
- Minority pressure: every little group complained when anything in a book offended them, and led to the point at which nothing could be written.
Societal forces, then, rather than the government, initiated the world of the novel.
It did not come about by the government telling people that books would be illegal. That is what you might think would happen, but it's not what did happen.
Instead, people demanded that the government do away with books. There were a couple of reasons for this:
- People sort of lost their attention spans. They had all sorts of quick and easy entertainment and didn't want something that took as long as a book.
- People got offended by books. Black people didn't like books that made them look bad. Business people didn't like books that made them look greedy.
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