proles.” In both dystopias, then, censorship comes from the toprndown and is a weapon of the “government” to control a victimizedrncitizenry.rnThis Wild Palms view of censorship is immensely popularrnwith literary academics, most of whom are convincedrnthat the greatest threat to freedom of speech and thoughtrncomes from the government, not from the people. That’s whyrnan ACLU membership letter I received tries to press my academicrnbuttons by focusing exclusively on governmental attacksrnon the First Amendment:rnPresident Bush has been in the very forefront of an unrelentingrnassault on the Bill of Rights and the personalrnliberties it protects. The assault has been sornwidespread, on so many issues, that every Americanrnwho looks to the Bill of Rights for protection must nowrnstep forward to preserve i t . . . . In fact, the consistentrnpattern of attacks on personal liberties that GeorgernBush has championed shows that it is up to people likernyou and me to stand up and defend our precious libertiesrnourselves.rnTo the discomfiture of many literary intellectuals, however,rnFahrenheit 451 advances a startlingly different and “offensive”rnview of the etiology of censorship. In Fahrenheit 45 J, censorshiprncomes not from the top down, but from the bottom up.rnWhen the novel begins, of course, the social mechanism forrnburning books has been institutionalized for decades. “Mondavrnburn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burnrn’em to ashes, then burn the ashes.” But Beatty, the fire chief,rnexplains that censorship was not imposed by an oligarchy on anrnunwilling populace of victimized citizens but was the Will ofrnthe People. As the population grew, he explains, the peoplernfractured into more and more subgroups or “minorities,” eachrnjealously guarding its own special interest and demanding anrninsult-free existence. As a result, writers, TV producers, textbookrncommittees, filmmakers, teachers all began to walk onrneggs, to censor themselves and to create only innocuous material:rnDon’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers,rndoctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists,rnUnitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians,rnGermans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, peoplernfrom Oregon or Mexico.rnAll the minor minor minorities with their navels tornbe kept clean. Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock uprnyour typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nicernblend of vanilla tapioca. Books, so the damned snobbishrncritics said, were dishwater. No wonder booksrnstopped selling, the critics said. But the public, knowingrnwhat it wanted, spinning happily, let the comicrnbooks survive. And the three-dimensional sex magazines,rnof course.rnThe people got what they wanted: a happy-face culture inrnwhich nobody would have their exquisitely sensitive feelings offendedrnby idea or word:rnYou must understand that our civilization is so vast thatrnwe can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Askrnvourself. What do we want in this country, above all?rnPeople want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t yournheard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say.rnWell, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’trnwe give them fun?rnTo make sure that everybody stays happy and content, any bookrnthat might upset any member of any ethnic, racial, or ideologicalrngroup must be incinerated:rnColored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it.rnWhite people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin.rnBurn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancerrnof the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping?rnBurn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag.rnThis serenity is so appreciated that a grateful public calls thernfiremen “Happiness Boys.” The people recognize that thernbook-burning firemen stand between them and a “small tide”rnof misfits who want to make “everyone unhappy with conflictingrntheory and thought.” The redoubtable fire chief urgesrnthe wavering Montag to hold firm: “We have our fingers in therndike. Hold steady. Don’t let the torrent of melancholy andrndrear philosophy drown our world. We depend on you. I don’trnthink you realize how important you are, we are, to our happyrnworld as it stands now.”rnA FEW WORDS ON FAHRENHEIT 4^1 BY ITS AUTHORrnAt the outset I must admit that this is probably the most outrageous piece of logrolling you have laid eyes on in a generation.rnYet, reading over Professor Trout’s essay, I gave in to temptation and herewith add my analysis and recommendation. I do sornmainly because we have moved quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, into the dim years of political correctness, in which wernput silencers not only on guns but on mouths. Someone said to me recently, aren’t you afraid? No, I said, I never react in fear;rnI react in anger. As with graffiti, you must counterattack within the moment, not a day, a month, or a year later. All the politicallyrncorrect terrorists must be driven back into the stands. There is no place for them in the open field of democratic ballplaying.rnThere is room only for Kipling and his Empire, Mark Twain and his Nigger ]im, Dickens and his Fagin, Shakespeare andrnhis Shylock, and Conan Doyle’s Holmes, opiate needle in hand.rnI did not, 40 years ago, predict. I observed tendencies or wrote doubts. Today, there is no fear of book-burners, onlyrnnonteachers and nonreaders, which means no need of books and so no burning.rn1 will not press these observations further. Professor Trout has done the job for me. And, since you are a reader—read on.rn—Rav BradburvrnAPRIL 1994/25rnrnrn