Published September 8, 2023
The dumpster behind the arts center in our upstate New York village is filled to the brim with discarded books—thousands of volumes that now, after a rainy August, have grown soggy and begun to dissolve, reverting squalidly to pulp. The mass grave is an unsettling sight to someone who was brought up in the worship of books.
The dumpster out back seems at odds with the sign in front of the arts center, which proclaims its annual “Festival of Books”: “More than 15,000 affordable, gently used books” for sale, all of them donated by locals. The thousands of volumes in the dumpster are the cull—the ones judged too damaged, smelly or defaced to be saleable.
Lance Morrow is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of “The Noise of Typewriters: Remembering Journalism.”
Lance Morrow is the Henry Grunwald Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His work focuses on the moral and ethical dimensions of public events, including developments in regard to freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and political correctness on American campuses, with a view to the future consequences of such suppressions.