Usher II

Im a voracious reader. Always have been. We didnt have cable or a lot of cool toys or anything growing up (dont feel sorry for me. we did get a NES when they came out, and a Tandy 2000) but Mom would always take us to the library for a new book at the drop of a hat.

But I dont read a lot of books.

I do occasionally pick up something different, but normally I read the same books over and over and over and over and over.

The ‘worst’ are ‘The Three Musketeers’ and ‘The Martian Chronicles’. I have read them both at least a hundred times (and its my moms copy of ‘Martian Chronicles’, doesnt look good, but it still reads good). I love them.

One of my favorite stories in the history of anything anywhere any time is ‘Usher II‘. It breaks my heart I love it so much.

‘Usher II’ is like ‘Fahrenheit 451’, but only superficially. Government/People banning and ultimately burning books and knowledge and emotions and blah blah blah. People have comparedFahrenheit 451‘ and the proposed burning of the Koran on 9/11 to death.

I dont care, per se, if people are burning the Koran or drawing Moohawmud. Or eating crackers. Or burning flags. Destroying a symbol of a thing is a way to protest a thing. Thats fine.

What bothers me about these people burning the Koran right now, and for this reason, is ‘Usher II’. SPOILER ALERT: The assholes who burned the books? If they had read those books before they burned them, they would have seen their own fate, acted accordingly, and avoided their deaths.

This is not why I think this is wrong:

“I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

There is nothing wrong with being disrespectful. And ‘disrespect’ is more often than not used as a weapon to censor others. Hell, its used to ban books. Dont come whining to me if you think you have been ‘disrespected’.

This is why I think this is wrong:

“Garrett?” called Stendahl softly. Garrett silenced himself. “Garrett,” said Stendahl, “do you know why I’ve done this to you? Because you burned Mr. Poe’s books without really reading them. You took other people’s advice that they needed burning. Otherwise you’d have realized what I was going to do to you when we came down here a moment ago. Ignorance is fatal, Mr. Garrett.”

Im afraid there is no thought behind the church burning the Koran. Theres no statement. Theres no intelligence behind it. Its just another group of dumb hick Christians burning books.


  1. #1 Joe
    September 8, 2010

    You make loud noises when you read?

  2. #2 ERV
    September 8, 2010

    Hey Joe!


  3. #3 gillt
    September 8, 2010

    So Pastor John plans on burning a few Korans for Jesus on the front steps of a place he calls the Dove World Outreach Center?

    There must be a genetic component to conservatives and their non-irony getting ways.

  4. #4 Joe
    September 8, 2010


  5. #5 mcmillan
    September 8, 2010

    I’ll admit I’ve pretty much avoided most of the stories about this subject, but you’ve pretty much summed up my feelings about it. Sure Islam has its problems, but I haven’t seen much sign that some of the people getting so worked up about it know what they’re talking about.

    While the Voltaire quote gets thrown around a lot, I like the phrasing a prof I had who knew Ward Churchhill described the conflict (Note this was before the plagiarism stuff came out, and the controversy was mostly about “He said mean stuff about America”)
    “He’s huge asshole, and it pisses me off that I need to defend him from even bigger assholes”

  6. #6 Stephen Bahl
    September 8, 2010

    I still remember the feeling when I was reading that story for the first time and realized which Poe story it was the Stendahl was referencing. It’s a brilliant story.

  7. #7 Thanny
    September 9, 2010

    NES came out 25 years ago. Wouldn’t that make you something close to an infant?

  8. #8 dean
    September 9, 2010

    “Garrett?” called Stendahl softly. Garrett silenced himself. “Garrett,” said Stendahl, “do you know why I’ve done this to you? Because you burned Mr. Poe’s books without really reading them. You took other people’s advice that they needed burning. Otherwise you’d have realized what I was going to do to you when we came down here a moment ago. Ignorance is fatal, Mr. Garrett.”

    You’ve caught this moron-minister exactly. He was interviewed and questioned about his reasons for wanting to burn the book: he replied that “it was a book that preaches hatred and intolerance”, saying that he’d read enough of it to know. asked to quote, or reference, a part that supported his claim, he retreated to his dumb face, acted insulted, and said “it’s a religion that denies that jesus is the son of god”. pressed repeatedly, he could not reference any portion he’d read.

  9. #9 Tim
    September 9, 2010

    I. Love. That. Book. <3

  10. #10 Jerry 10003
    September 9, 2010

    I know a perfect way to cure the idiot. Simply parachute him into the center of Iran (preferably dressed in pigskin holding a dead dog). He is free to burn all the Korans he wants. I’m sure he will hear his god shouting into his ear “get the hell out”. We may have the first new saint or an improvement of the gene pool.

  11. #11 Sean McCorkle
    September 9, 2010

    The Martian Chronicles – sigh – how much I love that book. And Usher II was one of my favorite stories within. That was my gateway book to Bradbury.

    Of course, another of Bradbury’s major novels was set in a future where books were
    outlawed and burned. Clearly it was something that worried him (as it should us all). How many readers know that the 1st edition of Fahrenheit 451 was bound in asbestos covers? (what genius)

    Ironically, the American Library Association reports that both Chronicles and Fahrenheit have been banned at one time or another. It makes my blood boil to even think about that.

    In an interview once, when asked if he was trying to predict the future in his writing, Bradbury responded “NO! I’m trying to prevent it!”

    PS at this writing, Jones seems to have backed down from the burning threat.

  12. #12 Shane Killian
    September 9, 2010

    Yes! Usher II–AWESOME!!!

  13. #13 Cain
    September 9, 2010

    Hey Shane,
    Your herd immunity video is excellent.

  14. #14 John
    September 10, 2010

    Two things-

    1. A (the?) main reason why people don’t want this guy burning the Koran is because ‘it might endanger American soldiers’. So what’s more offensive, a guy burning a bunch of wood pulp or a group of individuals who thinks that gives them the right to go around killing people and destroying shit? I know which side I’m leaning towards.

    2. Regarding this and the ‘Ground Zero mosque’ bullshit, I’m going to have to go with comment 3 about some sort of acquired irony defect due to the main argument of those opposed being something along the lines of ‘but the Muslims want to impose Sharia law, and that ain’t right! We shouldn’t have to live by their rules!’. Uh, yeah, douchebags, it’s called seperation of church and state, which is WHAT EVERYONE ELSE HAS BEEN FIGHTING YOUR STUPID ASSES ABOUT FOR THE PAST HUNDRED PLUS (several hundred? thousand(s) of?) FUCKING YEARS, YOU FUCKING MORONS! “No one should be able to impose their beliefs on others except us Christians!” Just to be specific, would that be an irony overload or an irony defect?

  15. #15 eddie
    September 11, 2010

    Thanks for this ERV. I never heard of Usher II but (think) I know what happens from the Poe original. Gonna add that to my to-read list.

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