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There are still states that require a sticker/disclaimer be put on the front of textbooks to suggest that evolution is just a theory. Textbooks in Texas have been selectively edited of such figures as Thomas Jefferson in favor of ones such as Phyllis Schlafley. The very persistent fear of ideas such as women's rights, individual liberties and scientific evolution are not as extreme as in the novel, but are certainly present in American society today, and the parallels are not lost on the reader.
The famous literary critic George Steiner once said, "The time of the Dantes, Sophocles, and Aeschylus has passed." I believe that the modern setting is vastly different from the world depicted in Bradbury's work primarily because of the tolerance and acceptance of multiple and dissenting voices. The heterogeneity in our condition is uniquely different from the world in Bradbury's work where the singular and monist view of reality precludes any differences, which is why there is a fear of literature and learning. I do believe this. However, I think that there might be a part of it that could have relevance in our own setting because, in large part, of what Steiner suggests. The concept of Literature (Capital "L") is something that is not as prevalent in our artistic expression as it was in other times. This is not meant to be a nostalgic waxing of the "good old days," because they might not have been that good if one was not part of the ruling elite. However, the composition of modern literature might not seek nor strive to be as Literature of the past was. The modern conception of art and composition of books is definitely different from what it used to be and in this light, there might be an "intellectual dulling" that is definitely present in Bradbury's work.
Add to the two above answers the sheer force and influence of the hip hop culture that has permeated American teenaged society in the last 10-15 years. According to almost any rap song lyrics that are currently pumping endlessly into the ear-buds of whole busses full of high school and middle school students (as we speak, in fact) - the only things that matter are money, women, clothes, shoes, and image. Unfortunately, most of the "artists" boasting of this lifestyle do not have a university education behind them - many lack several years of high school, likely.
So what message is the loudest? Well, that you don't have to have an education to be rich and successful - and riches and success (however you can achieve them with the least amount of work) equal happiness. I truly believe this culture (which subsequently promotes gang affiliation and often violence) is one of the most dangerous influences on our teenagers right now. As a young, middle class, white teacher, I am fighting a difficult battle for my "cool factor" among students who aspire to live the life of a hip hop (or for that matter, professional sports) star.
Books and education are both biased. There is always a slant. I don't care who the book publisher for the curriculum is that is presented at a high school or university, it is human nature to be a secondary source writer and present history with your own perspective.
So, if the writers are left-leaning, right-leaning people fear their presentation of material. If the writers are right-leaning, left-leaning folks fear their presentation of material.
One of the benefits of America as is today is that we have freedoms of speech and religion. Therefore, we have the freedom of thought. Everyone in our country is entitled to their own opinions and can take books and education and evaluate it according to their own beliefs.
I think we will face problems when and if truth is presented as exactly the opposite, or when books are banned for their ideological content, unless it is for the protection of people.
Good luck with your homework.
I do not really believe that there is a similar fear in our society, but if I had to answer this question, I would cite two things.
First, I would point out that we seem to have a fear of insulting various groups just as is seen in the book. We worry about political correctness and about not saying or writing things that will insult various minority (ethnic, racial, political, whatever) groups.
Second, you could argue that a large section of our society looks down on learning and on educated people. You could argue that politicians like Sarah Palin make their careers out of criticizing people who are educated. To this segment of society, it is admirable to be (relatively) uneducated and to do what you feel is right instead of thinking about things intellectually. (This idea is expressed in the opinion column in the link.)
I do not really believe this -- I do not think we face problems like those in the book. However, if I had to answer this question, I would point to those things.
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