Beatty's frightening vision
In Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, the fire department has a list of a million books that are forbidden (Part 1, 46%). The only things allowed to read are comic books, trade journals, gossip magazines, and sex magazines (Part 1, 83%). As light reading became more popular, writers adapted and produced trashy reading, which in turn no longer sold (ibid.).
The fire department tries to systematically destroy all banned books. Their task is to burn houses where books are found. The police cooperate with the fire department by arresting the people in the houses to be burned and taping their mouths shut (Part 1, 51%), then sending them to the insane asylum (Part 1, 46%).
When firefighter Guy Montag, the main character, begins to have doubts about whether his job is moral, Captain Beatty, the firehouse chief, explains to him why the books are being burned: Books are considered the source of all misfortune. He himself read many books, as Beatty says, to find out what he was up against. His bottom line is:
the books say nothing! Nothing you can teach or believe. They're about nonexistent people,(...) if they're fiction. And if they're nonfiction, it's worse, one professor calling another an idiot, one philosopher screaming down another's gullet. (...) You come away lost. (Part 1, 89%).
In Beatty's opinion, it...