Fund burning of existing copies of harmful Dr. Seuss books?

Books containing harmful ideas will no longer be sold new, says “Dr. Seuss Enterprises Will Shelve 6 Books, Citing ‘Hurtful’ Portrayals” (NPR):

“In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, for example, a character described as Chinese has two lines for eyes, carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice, and wears traditional Japanese-style shoes. In If I Ran the Zoo, two men said to be from Africa are shown shirtless, shoeless and wearing grass skirts as they carry an exotic animal. Outside of his books, the author’s personal legacy has come into question, too — Seuss wrote an entire minstrel show in college and performed as the main character in full blackface.”

Let’s look at If I Ran the Zoo. The used (“collectible”) book is still available at Amazon, however, for $1,700:

and it may be available in a lot of public libraries where young minds could fall into error.

Would it make sense for a billionaire Silicon Valley progressive to fund the purchase of all extant copies of these harmful works and then burn them? A typical public library would presumably be happy to receive $1,700 for a worn book that had originally cost them $10. Like the Pfizer vaccine that is not banned in India (“mostly false” and a “conspiracy theory” according to Newsweek; it is just that the vaccine is not approved and therefore illegal to use), the libraries wouldn’t be banning If I Ran the Zoo. It would just be deaccessioned to make room for better/newer books.

(If your budget is smaller and you’re looking for bedtime stories that don’t offend modern merchants, Amazon will sell you a new copy of Mein Kampf for $22.49 ($10.99 Kindle):

“I am convinced that we cannot possibly dispense with the trade unions. On the contrary, they are among the most important institutions in the economic life of the nation. Not only are they important in the sphere of social policy but also, and even more so, in the national political sphere. For when the great masses of a nation see their vital needs satisfied through a just trade unionist movement the stamina of the whole nation in its struggle for existence will be enormously reinforced thereby.” and “For this, to be sure, from the child’s primer down to the last newspaper, every theater and every movie house, every advertising pillar and every billboard, must be pressed into the service of this one great mission”)

The Russians and Dutch rebels behind Library Genesis have preserved a PDF of the not-banned Dr. Seuss work. The world of 1950 contains some all-white neighborhoods:

But one can travel to find Asians (“who all wear their eyes at a slant”):

He goes to Nantucket without a Gulfstream? My rating: #MostlyFalse

The remote African island of “Yerka,” not as realistically depicted as in National Geographic:

As with the 2016 election, it all comes down to the Russians:

Update, evening of 3/3: at least some sellers are hoping to get $5,000 per copy.

What was the book worth before it was not-banned? $1.25 on eBay, January 4, 2021:

How about on March 3, 2021 for a “brand new” copy with no historical pedigree? $405 on eBay:


  • the Cobra effect (if a billionaire offers $1,700 per copy, maybe more copies will magically appear?)

11 thoughts on “Fund burning of existing copies of harmful Dr. Seuss books?

  1. I feel that my first thought ‘this is just creating instant collectibles’ was spot on. Go me. I though of getting a few copies, but I dislike Dr Seuss drawings (sorry!), and I have enough books to put away that getting these book shaped bitcoins is really just a hassle.

  2. There is an arbitrage opportunity here, (a) borrow from public library + take hateful book out of circulation, (b) sell on Amazon for $1700 to a collector, (c) pay lost book fine, (d) virtue signal on social media about protecting young children against such garbage, and (e) invest the money in a BIPOC-owned business.

  3. When are we going to consider “Cinderella”, “Beauty and the Beast” and the likes “hateful” books and movies? What about Pinocchio? Or Snowmen? They are as white as they can be.

    I wonder how would Theodor Seuss Geisel [1] would have responded to this.

    Btw, this is another example why there are more and more Trumpsters out there.


    • “I wonder how would Theodor Seuss Geisel would [sic] have responded to this.”

      He would likely have been relieved, as, in later years, he regretted and was embarrassed by his early racist cartooning. He emended some of it when he had the chance, so maybe he would have gone that route.

      The stuff Mr. Greenspun reproduces here is the mildest. Dr. Seuss could be shockingly vicious.

      For the record, I loved Seuss as a child and I still do. He’s immensely talented. I even remember reading the Zoo book as a child. People are complicated.

    • @Lee Philips:

      That’s a a good point that I hadn’t seen raised by anyone else thus far. I’m sure he did regret some of the cartoons he drew. It’s a good thing nobody has a few of the early doodles I used to hang up inside our big cardboard clubhouse in the back yard when we were playing “neighborhood war.”

      The problem is that issuing a statement of regret and emending the cartoons is no longer enough to satisfy the Mob or the lawyers and trustees at philanthropic organizations who control the money to determine what people can and cannot see. And their reach is extending everywhere – to guys in auto. repair shops that used to have the saucy Snap-On Tools pinup calendars, and I’ll dare say soon to automotive and aircraft museums and similar venues.

      I recall back in the ’90s when I made the grave error of bringing my SuperWoke Before It Was Cool vegetarian feminist psychologist girlfriend to a dance hosted my College fraternity. We walked around inside the frat. house so she could meet some of my brothers who were also attending the dance, and as we went from place to place, she became increasingly agitated and furious. Why? Some of the guys had bikini-clad women taped to the walls of their bedrooms. A couple of the more careless ones actually left a porno. magazine in plain sight. She was so infuriated by the time we got to the third floor that she told me point blank: “I’m not going to the dance with these disgusting misogynist patriarchal pigs.” These guys were basically a bunch of nerds. Ruined our evening, and then harangued me for months about how scummy my friends were and how much she hated them, despite never having taken a moment to speak with any of them, much less dance with them.

      Now this is everywhere. And I disagree with @Mememe: every time these folks successfully take a scalp, they get stronger – it strengthens them and makes them more fervent and more determined. Until someone says “No.” and makes it stick, that’s going to continue to be true.

    • @Lee Phillips: Addendum: I almost forgot. One of the brothers, whom I’ll affectionately refer to as “The Burnout” left his door unlocked and we walked into his room, which she thought was interestingly decorated and qualified him as someone she wanted to talk with. Why? He had it painted from floor to ceiling in bright red and black stripes, festooned with portraits of Lenin and with a HUGE Soviet Communist flag hanging from the ceiling. He didn’t lock the door but he wasn’t available for the meet & greet because he was off somewhere getting stoned.

  4. The time is ticking before Mein Kampf gets memory-holed on Amazon. This is a shame. There is no better text to understand the motivations of WWII. The Turner Diaries, the Ur-document of American white nationalism is unavailable on ebay or Amazon, despite ebay buying a sponsored link to top the Google search results.

    But lrt us consider a second possibility — that the cancel culture is running out of steam and that the reaction against it will promote a flowering of free speech and inquiry. People everywhere, young and old, are getting sick of this crap.

    My mole among NYTimes alumni are telling me that Donald McNeil’s firing might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the woke culture of that newspaper.

    I must remain hopeful for liberty’s future. Even if most graniteheads would now dispute the motto of “Liberty or Death,” as dangerous racist extremism, I shall continue to subscribe to it. I am confident that kany of my countrymen feel the same way.

  5. 2 points: why is no one up in arms about the hairy fat Russian? Is he really white?
    Secondly, as I self identify as a Gak, I find the game “ring the Gak” while riding a Yak, deeply offensive!

  6. When you grow up, oh you can be a mariner who sails the sea
    Or you could be, if hard you try, a pilot who gets planes to fly
    A spelunker who goes in caves, a barber who gives people shaves
    A coroner who drives a hearse, a bureaucrat who makes things worse
    Yes, you can race a racing car no matter what your pronouns are
    But oh, the fortunes you can earn when you decide which books to burn

    That is the beginning of “First They Came for the Poets” by Tarzana Joe.
    Read the whole thing here:

    Joe is a poet for hire. Contact him for all your poetry needs. Rates are reasonable!
    Lots of fun poems like this at his website:

  7. High above one of the trendiest, richest places I have visited (in recent times anyway), La Jolla, CA sat Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), far removed from his Springfield, MA beginnings. So, maybe somewhat removed from the discussion, even though he had his opinions (on everything, apparently). I had a nice day kayaking in the waters below his hilltop fortess/mansion/view back in 2015: 🙂

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