Rest in Peace Ray Bradbury, Enemy of Political Correctness


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Ray Bradbury, who died Wednesday at 91, authored more than 27 novels and 600 short stories, plus plays, screenplays (Moby Dick) poems and songs, a critically acclaimed body of work that will surely stand the test of time. The masterful writer should also be remembered as a staunch foe of political correctness, which in 1979 compelled him to add an afterword to Fahrenheit 451, a novel published in 1953.

During the 1970s a lady at Vassar wrote to express enjoyment of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. The author was glad to hear it but dismayed at the woman’s plea for him to rewrite the book “inserting more women’s characters and roles.” He also received complaints that the blacks in the book were “Uncle Toms,” with a hint that he should “do them over.” Publishers also got in the act.

They wanted to delete “God-Light” and “in the Presence” from his short story “The Foghorn” in a high-school reader. Another school reader had crammed 400 stories by various into one reader by a simple process: “Skin, debone, demarrow, scarify, melt, render down and destroy,” Bradbury wrote. “Any simile that would have made a sub-moron’s mouth twitch – gone! . . Every word of more than three syllables had been razored. Every image that demanded so much as one instant’s attention – shot dead.”

Bradley responded by “firing the whole lot” and “ticketing the assembly of idiots to the far reaches of hell.” The point, he wrote, is obvious.

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.” He invoked fire captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451, describing how books were burned first by minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from a book until “the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever.”

Bradbury discovered to his horror that editors at Ballantine books had censored 75 sections of that very novel, which deals with book-burning. He took care of that problem but found that politically correctness was on a long march. His play Leviathan 99 had premiered as an opera in Paris but a university theater declined to perform it because the cast had no women. Bradbury wrote back suggesting that they perform his play one week and The Women (no men in the cast) the next.

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  • tagalog

    Everyone should read Something Wicked This Way Comes, preferably in their later high school years. Also The Martian Chronicles. And a whole lot of others. God bless Ray Bradbury. He and Asimov can play chess on a park bench in Heaven in the afternoons.

    • rick630c1

      He and Asimov can play chess on a park bench in Heaven in the afternoons.

      And Sagan can play the winner, lol.

  • Spider

    Bradbury was a true intellectual and I loved his books. Take heed America – many of his dire warnings about the dangers of political corrrectness and totaltarian thought are now coming true.

  • ISAIAH5417

    After reading Mr. Billingsley's report I can see why Ray Bradbury didn't get much airtime in the mainstream. It would have been very interesting to hear Saul Bellow & Ray Bradbury have a public discussion of cultural censorship. Let the light shine!

  • dmw

    In a Freshman English composition course I took back in 1967, we had to read 10 selected books. One of them was 'Fahrenheit 451'. Another selected work was 'Brave New World'. Strangely enough, the course was at a New Mexico college, New Mexico being the location of the 'Savage Reservation' of 'Brave New World'. I've forgotten a lot of the gibberish I learned back then. Thank God the curriculum developers at that college decided to use reading, discussion, and writing about those books to get across something else besides just composition.

  • Alex Kovnat

    Very willingly do I join all who are mourning the passing of Ray Bradbury. He lived a long and good life. I saw the movie Fahrenheit 451 several times.

    Let me give everyone here an example of political correctness at its most annoying and petty. My wife and I are square dancers. We've been at it since before we were married, which is over 30 years. One of the calls we've learned over the years was formerly called "half-breed through", which means you do one maneuver if your female partner is to your right, and another if she's to your left. Just last month, while the wife and I were at a state square dance convention in Ohio, we were told the name "half-breed through" was no longer being used, apparently because it offended someone or another's sensibilities. We now have to call it half-brace through. So you can see how petty the PC phenom is.

  • JoJoJams

    Somewhere in America, a boy tap-dances a on a tuned segment of discarded wooden sidewalk, calling his friends to run over the hills by moonlight…

    Out on the Veldt, the animals pause for a moment, as though something unseen had passed through their midst…

    Somewhere on Mars, a new silver fire is burning to welcome him…

    By the river, a Book stops it's recitation for the day, to remember a fine man who wrote such wonderous things.

    Thanks be, for Ray Bradbury, who taught me that there could be poetry in prose.

    • Tanstaafl

      Bravo! Well done!

  • tagalog

    The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury. The man could see the future on the personal scale better than Ayn Rand.
    http://mikejmoran.typepad.com/files/pedestrian-by

    • Vermont Yid

      Thanks for the reference to The Pedestrian. I had forgotten what a great story it is.

  • YetWave

    "All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It’s my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset I’ve won or lost. At sunrise, I’m out again, giving it the old try.”

    The credo of personal responsibility expressed for all to understand.

  • Toa

    I always appreciated this man; and the more I learned about him, the more I liked him.

    FPMers: do a search on "ray bradbury reagan clinton" and see what you come up with. Married to his wife from 1947 until her death in '03. If he had not been a tremendous and already-established talent, no doubt he would have become another casualty on the modern MSM's blackball list.

    Thank you, Mr. Bradbury…we'll miss you.

  • Ghostwriter

    I didn't read any of Ray Bradbury's books but I do remember him from an old series called "Ray Bradbury Theater." It was an anthology series that was around for a while. I don't remember the network it was originally on but I saw a little bit of it later on USA Network.