Friday, July 29, 2005

About vandalism

I wanted to give this entry the title "Shocked and appalled", after the pervasive cliché, but then it would give this rant an element of levity I didn't want.

Nervertheless, I am shocked and appalled.

I am a tremendous user of my local library, not only for works of fiction and non-fiction, but also for reference books. This week, I picked up a book on 19th century art, an oversize, beautifully written book by H. W. Janson. Hundreds of b/w pictures accompany the text, and there are dozens of color plates of various pieces of art. (The paperback version on amazon.com is worth over $90US)

Here comes the shocking part: several color plates had been cut out with a razor blade. Millet, Delacroix, and others, gone. How can someone deface a book this way? What kind of person would have no thought for all the other users of this book? In some cases, the text was also gone, because the picture was at the reverse of it. That person deprived others, me included, from being able to learn from this book. The use of a razor blade, instead of tearing off the wanted pages, was even more shocking to me. It spoke of a premeditated, conscious act: excising what they needed, leaving the rest.

The appalling part of this is that it speaks of a lack of social respect, a scorn of the needs of others, a tremendous egotism. Not to mention a total lack of manners. This is worse than graffitti, which, as insensible as it may be, at least is a form of expression, a need to communicate. This is more than plain destruction of property, because it is sneaky and vile. How many other books did this person destroy or deface? Which other ways are they using to reach a goal?

Because this is what is the worst: for people like that, the end justifies the means. It speaks of a moral turpitude that leads, eventually, to the lack of social conscience we have today.

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