Should books come with a health warning?

dangerofdeathLots of things come with a health warning these days. Cigarette packets tell you very clearly that SMOKING KILLS. Hot beverages warn of the risk of scalding.

Signs positioned outside public toilets warn of the danger of tripping over signs positioned outside public toilets.

“Danger of death” is my personal all-time favourite warning sign.

Who knew there were so many ways to fall over?

Who knew there were so many different ways to fall over?

I have warned my children about the dangers of this.

I have warned my children about the dangers of this.

I would love to see more of these.

I would love to see more of these.

Beware of yellow triangles?

Beware of yellow triangles?

This is truly excellent advice.

This is truly excellent advice.

But books? I have never seen a health warning on a book. The cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy famously proclaimed DON’T PANIC, but that’s reassurance, not a warning.

Consider this. Freedom of speech means that books may contain almost anything. They can contain all kinds of lies, untruths and distortions of the facts. They may advocate strange and unhealthy diets and practices. They can be stuffed with ignorance, prejudice, hatreds and phobias.

There are even some books that are entirely made up. Look in the “Fiction” section of your local library if you don’t believe me.

Do not doubt the power of books. They are Trojan Horses, smuggling insidious ideas past your critical faculties and directly into your mind. Their deadly payloads of belief systems can transform an innocent person into a racist, xenophobe or suicide bomber. They may cause you to quit your job, give away all your worldly goods and devote your life to helping others. Their impact can be literally catastrophic.

Are books dangerous? You bet! Do they need a warning sign? I think they do.


14 responses to “Should books come with a health warning?

  1. The only book that I believe needs a warning label is the Bible. The label should read something like this:
    This book is not a text book. It is not historically accurate, it is not scientifically accurate, it is not geologically accurate. It is a book of stories, fables, and parables. Enjoy.

  2. Here are a few I took in my travels. I hope they show up!

  3. Reblogged this on ricksr70 and commented:
    Awesome thoughts

  4. My favourite warning notice I came across was “Contains nuts” on a bag of nuts. Love your library sign! How about “May contain broken promises” on the back cover of all those relentless books about how to be impossibly perfect?!

  5. I want one of those “Beware of yellow triangles” signs.

  6. Everything needs a warning anymore. Isn’t it amazing that people can sue a company or individual for something that happened because of their own stupidity? And usually win?
    Great post.

  7. ‘Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.’ – Mark Twain

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