Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2011 Issue

Another Act of Hatred in Tucson… At the Library

Uofalib

University of Arizona Library.

It was a story about some minor vandalism at a library that came out two months ago. It was a local inside-page story for a day, of no consequence to the world beyond the city limits, and not much within them. Fifty-three books were damaged by someone or some group of individuals writing in pen upon their pages. While the library's official fine rate, if the individuals were caught, totaled up to $8,745, it is hard to imagine it would cost the posted rate of $165 per book to replace them.

 

The story only catches our eye now because of subsequent events. The location was the library at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and as the November 29, 2010, issue of the campus newspaper described it, the "books were tagged with hate speech." As we now know, six weeks later hate morphed from speech to violence just a few miles up the road from the UA Library. This story quickly made front-page headlines all over the world. It left many wondering if there are things that can be done when hatred rears its head, as it did at the UA Library, so it never reaches the level witnessed at the shopping center a few miles to the north.

 

According to the campus newspaper, a library information associate described the slurs as relating to "religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and gender." Most specific writings were not mentioned, and those that were need no repetition. It is not known who the writer or writers were, nor exactly when the acts were committed. The vandalized books were scattered throughout the library. The fact that this was a university library suggests that the likely vandals were students or other adults, though this can't be certain. The likelihood that they will be found, unless they commit further acts, seems small. The acts were all committed outside the view of security cameras.

 

There is not likely any connection between the defaced books at the library and the horrific violence a few miles and a few weeks removed from this incident. Except, perhaps, one. As the local Sheriff, a 75-year-old old-timer lamented, too much anger, hatred, and bigotry have crept into what should be rational discussions about common institutions. When hatred displaces intelligent debate, and personal attacks displace policy arguments, bad things can happen. He noted that Arizona had become something of a "Mecca" for intolerance, and criticized the constant flow of vitriol blasting across the airwaves, that now passes for political discourse. Naturally enough, his comments led to an outpouring of anger and personal attacks directed toward him. His old-time view that our public institutions should be treated with respect, even at times of disagreement, sounded quaint. "Respect" seemingly has become an antiquated word.

 

There is no direct link between the hate speech written in the library books and this horrific tragedy. That act, as is usually the case, was that of a lone, very disturbed individual. Yet, those who think the old Sheriff delusional for his ramblings should take a look at places where hate speech and incitement to violence is treated as respectable discourse. Political or "religious" leaders in places such as Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan regularly preach such messages, though they do not commit the acts of violence themselves. However, the fact that such messages are treated with anything less than the contempt they deserve allows them to take hold in the minds of the unbalanced and gullible. We would not want to live in these places. What we consider an act of extreme horror has become commonplace there.

 

We learn from books. Those defaced, hate-filled books in Arizona have something to teach us. Those that sow the wind reap the whirlwind.

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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