Over at Compuserve there has been a discussion going on about a list in the Huffington Post about the most dangerous books ever written. Several people mentioned that the Bible and the Koran should both be added to the list and I had to see their point. Look at all the evil that has been done in the names of those books. Crusades anyone? And yet...
Can a book really be dangerous?
Obviously authors can write books with certain intents. C.S. Lewis, by his own admission, was a christian writer. But readers still have a huge roll to play in how a book turns out. Going back to The Bible, can you believe it was the same book that inspired both the Spanish Inquisition and Mother Teresa?
There are definitely books on evil subjects. Do you remember the big hullabaloo a few years ago about the book on Amazon about how to be a Pedophile? I don't think writers should justify writing certain things just by saying "My book is neutral, the reader put that intention there. He's what made it evil."
I don't think they're inherently evil, but if the definition for dangerous is being able or likely to inflict harm then yes, I think books can be dangerous. Books can and do inflict harm. But that harm is inflicted by the people who wrote or (miss)read the book.
It's an interesting topic and not one I could think all the way through in days or even weeks. What do you think? Can books in and of themselves can be dangerous, or is it the way the reader uses it that makes it so? Or do you think that ignorance is the only real danger?