Which bibles? Even at the height of the Dark Ages, the biggest libraries held hundreds of books -- not hundreds of thousands like in ancient times before. Many of the greatest libraries were destroyed by Christian mobs, including the Library of Alexandria, which held 700,000 volumes (the administrator of the library of that time, a woman named Hypatia, was skinned alive and burned by Christians).
Like the Taliban, the Dark Age Christians destroyed large parts of what they saw as "heathen" culture: statues, pictures, books, houses, entire libraries. Sure, the Bibles you could (many hundred years later, around ~1000-1200 AD) find in the richest monasteries were carefully crafted, but regular citizens had been prohibited from even owning a normal Bible. You can imagine how pictures of different religious convictions were treated. The ruling class is always held to different standards: I would not be surprised if you'd find TV sets and American magazines in the houses of the Taliban leaders.
I have done a comprehensive comparison of "art" from the Dark Ages with art of ancient times. The so-called art from 600-1200 AD is often reminiscent of early cave paintings, or the first drawing attempts by a three-year old. It lacks any understanding of perspective, colors or the objects they were supposed to represent. Pictures like this or this (1028 AD) are examples of higher quality. Compare this with ancient wall paintings or statues (which were, by the way, carefully painted, so they looked a little like wax figures). Moreover, there nearly are no pictures of the time period 600-1000. One of the reasons the Dark Ages are called the Dark Ages (and some thinkers of the Renaissance were the first to use that term) is that we have virtually no information about a lot of that time, because there is no written material! Most of the pictures you will find are from 1200-1400, where Europe already began to see light again. Apologetic postmodern art scholars say this is because the Middle Ages had their own "style" and tried to do something new compared to the classical Roman style. Yeah, right.
The Dark Ages were a time of self-chastisement, murder, massive persecution of people of other religious or scientific convictions, belief in religious healing instead of medicine, belief in witches and demons, destruction of knowledge, illiteracy. But this is not taught in school. When we were taught about the Middle Ages, we had to learn the names of all the kings of the different dynasties, and all the little wars and skirmishes among them -- nothing was said about the loss of culture from ancient times. We are forgetting our own history, and are therefore not realizing when it repeats itself elsewhere. And postmodernists of various sorts try to explain to us that there is really no big difference between ancient times and the Middle Ages, that people just happened to believe in different things (and that the change of beliefs was, of course, an evolutionary development, a simple change of convictions without any blood spilled). Likewise, with the Taliban, many people say that it's just people who believe in different things and that we should let them be.
As for religious fundamentalism in Europe or the United States, these people have already burned books they didn't like. Together with feminists, fundamentalists have even burned down whole bookstores (like the First Amendment Bookstore in New York City) because they sold "pornography". Even in post-war Germany, books were burned -- comic books -- by the church and the conservative ruling party because they were "corrupting the youth", giving them the wrong values and religious ideas. How is this different from saying that pictures are corrupting people? And what about the religious fundamentalists who even selectively kill doctors who perform abortions, or blow up hospitals? Are these people really that far from seeing a danger in every hospital? How many million dollars would you need to turn America's most radical religious fundamentalists into a guerilla fighting for the one and true God? How much social disorder is necessary before such a change can happen without a central control in place to stop it?
It is time to learn from our own history. This is one of the reasons that freedom of speech on the Net is so important. But religious fundamentalists (some of them have put a "Black Ribbon" on their homepages to demonstrate for censorship) are again pleading for stronger control to prevent the distribution of -- pictures: child pornography, violence, bestiality .. They want filters in every library and every school and, eventually, on every router, filters that burn the pages before they reach the reader.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
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