Tempering the Temper of Our Times

“I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!”

This is one of the contenders for 10 Greatest All-Time Movie Quotes (along with “Frankly, My Dear” and “Toto, too?”) and I’m thinking of using it as the sign for a new category of books at the Book Fair. I’d like to set this new category into a small, insignificant place, but it’s getting to be so big, only the parking lot will hold it.

These last three weeks, I have had so many Ill-Tempered Books come in that the need to give them their own space is well nigh irresistible. (How about the dumpster? Or, better, the trash compacter?) As mentioned, our donors seem to be dumping all their political books lately, and this makes up a major portion of the lot. It’s been right-wing the last week or so: the liberals started World War II just to smear Hitler, the liberals started World War II just to advance Hitler’s liberal goals, the liberals are destroying the environment because it’s the best way to kill American industry, the liberals set up the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the liberals will be breaking into your house soon to take away your fishing poles.

I am a great believer in the balance of existence, so I felt this was the inevitable response to the two previous weeks, in which I dealt with boxes and boxes of ill-tempered books from the LEFT wing: conservatives started World War II to pursue their One World One Corporation vision, conservatives are destroying the environment because they don’t like raccoons, conservatives set up the assassination of John F. Kennedy, conservatives will be breaking into your home to burn your Spongebob Squarepants DVDs.

In both collections, the majority of the writers didn’t want simply to share this information. They wanted to share their outrage that the Facts, the True Facts, have been withheld from intelligent people like you. It isn’t enough for you to agree with their findings; you have to be enraged at the people who say anything else.

It isn’t all politics, of course. People are just as ill-tempered about other things. The Church is concealing evidence that John the Baptist was a survivor of Atlantis, the American Medical Association is hiding the fact that hot chocolate cures ingrown toenails, the powerful chocolate lobby is not telling you that hot chocolate causes ingrown toenails, dog owners are destroying the environment, John F. Kennedy committed suicide but the evidence was destroyed, the powerful secret cabal of historians is not letting you know that Thomas Jefferson stole most of the Declaration of Independence from unpublished letters of Jane Austen…. In all cases, the thrust of the text is: “YOU have been denied the TRUE FACTS, but here they are! Doesn’t it make you just furious? What are you going to do about it?”

Do me a favor. Don’t get furious. A person who is really, really angry isn’t really, really thinking, and that’s what many of these authors want. At the very least, they hope you’ll get mad enough to tell other people, who will then buy the book, and get furious and tell other people.. What I’d like you to do is walk to another part of the Book Fair and maybe buy an almanac or a set of encyclopedias, where you can look up Jane Austen and find out whether she would have been writing letters to Thomas Jefferson in 1775. Yes, I KNOW: the encyclopedia publishers are probably in on the conspiracy, too.

But you’ll be buying another book. And that will improve MY temper, at least. 

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