Monday, February 23, 2004

A Lesson From China

In 213 B.C., Li Szu, a minister of Emperor Shih Huang Ti, talked him into burning all books except for a few dealing with medicine, farming, and divination. Li Szu claimed he wanted to break the chains that held back innovation (most think that he wanted to impose his own viewpoints as the cornerstone of Chinese literature and thought). Twenty two years later the decree was repealed and scholars began patching together what was left of their libraries. Over the life of the decree, at least 460 scholars died rather than comply and countless ancient works were lost forever.

I wish Ralph would read this, change the names to Ashcroft and Bush, and think about the future.

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