Should "Rage" be back in print?

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Rrty

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
1,286
3,981
#1
Question for Ms. Mod:

I read Bev Vincent's essay entitled "Getting It On" over at Richard Chizmar's website dedicated to chronicling his return visits with Stephen King's works. It got me thinking. I was curious what you thought of the opinion that Rage should be back in print.

I firmly believe that. I read the book many years ago when I was in school. Thought it was really good (by the way, I like the title Getting It On much better).

Though I understand the controversy surrounding this particular collection of letters, I have to say, it strikes me odd that King refuses to put this one back in circulation. It doesn't make sense, especially considering his staunch belief in the First Amendment.

Could the book cause a disturbed teen to kill? Yes. No different than any other form of entertainment. But the problems caused by one species of speech that is meant not to harm but to enlighten in some fashion unfortunately cannot be banned over another speech-device meant to enlighten in a different way (i.e., a horror book has just as much right on a shelf as does an unambiguously inoffensive children's book).

If someone decides a piece of entertainment told him to kill, that is unfortunate. But it cannot lead to all of us worrying about those consequences.

As a prime example, it's pretty obvious that reports of a negative event do indeed lead to copycat phenomena. Yet, the decision has been made to continue reporting the news.

I understand King's decision. It is his right. And in fact, had he decided not to write the book in the first place, then there would be no question on this subject. I wouldn't say that he had no right not to write a book.

The fact that it has been published in the past, however, does make me wonder how King can remain consistent with his stance on censorship. It doesn't add up. It was out there previously, now it isn't, because King believes maybe his book might cause death.

A well-meaning politician might say "I am voting to keep minors away from certain books because I have the same concern as you did for one of your own books. I may even prevent people under 21 from reading a certain book, they may not be mature enough to handle the concepts. Some books are like intellectual cigarettes, dangerous to the mental physiology, and you have no moral authority to argue against me because you've done the same thing."

Sure, there's a difference -- one is the government, one is a private businessman. The latter certainly can do whatever he wants, I support that right.

But King, by pulling the book, agrees -- books can kill under certain circumstances. They can be blamed. He should then maybe understand why school libraries sometimes feel the need to protect kids from certain ideas. Or, maybe why city libraries would do the same. Maybe libraries shouldn't stock Bill O'Reilly's books, which are not history texts, contrary to popular belief. Maybe they shouldn't stock Tina Fey's books, she's not talking about important stuff like space research.

That would be one slippery slope, though. One he can't criticize.

And besides, someday, in the future, it will hit public domain.

The bestselling book of all time -- and we know what it is -- is pretty dear to a lot of people. There's a lot of violence in it. It arguably has caused a lot of violence. It will never go out of print.

What do you think, Ms. Mod? Would you like to see Rage back in print? Very interested in your opinion. And just to be clear, obviously I respect King's right to decide which of his books stay in print and which of his books do not.

[@Moderator]
 
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Spideyman

Uber Member
Jul 10, 2006
40,458
147,572
73
Just north of Duma Key
#2
Not a moderator- just my opinion- His book, his decision, this I respect.
During an interview SK stated:
“My book did not break [these teenagers] or turn them into killers; they found something in my book that spoke to them, because they were already broken,” he said. “Yet I did see ‘Rage’ as a possible accelerant, which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it.”
 

kingricefan

All-being, keeper of Space, Time & Dimension.
Jul 11, 2006
28,344
115,481
Spokane, WA
#3
It's up to Stephen whether or not this book ever gets reprinted again. Frankly I'm tired of folks taking him to task for making a personal decision that ultimately is none of their business. Dean Koontz wrote a number of pornographic novels back in his very, very early writing career and those have been out of print far longer than Rage has. Why is no one going after Koontz? If one absolutely HAS TO READ Rage, then take the steps to find a used copy of it (and be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars for it!) or find a used copy of the omnibus The Bachman Books, which has all four of the original Bachman paperbacks in it along with black and white facsimiles of their respective covers, and read it. Leave Steve alone about it. He is the artist that created it, it's his decision whether or not anyone gets to read it again. It's his decision.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
80,997
307,735
56
Cambridge, Ohio
#4
It's up to Stephen whether or not this book ever gets reprinted again. Frankly I'm tired of folks taking him to task for making a personal decision that ultimately is none of their business. Dean Koontz wrote a number of pornographic novels back in his very, very early writing career and those have been out of print far longer than Rage has. Why is no one going after Koontz? If one absolutely HAS TO READ Rage, then take the steps to find a used copy of it (and be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars for it!) or find a used copy of the omnibus The Bachman Books, which has all four of the original Bachman paperbacks in it along with black and white facsimiles of their respective covers, and read it. Leave Steve alone about it. He is the artist that created it, it's his decision whether or not anyone gets to read it again. It's his decision.
...sooooo, let me get this straight(har, har, har)....you think King should make this decision????....
 

Moderator

Ms. Mod
Administrator
Jul 10, 2006
47,453
122,390
Maine
#6
I think it's up to Stephen to make the decision about whether to allow reprintings of his work. It was not a decision he came to lightly or based on just one negative situation as some seem to think. It's my opinion that there is a difference between the creator of the work taking personal responsibility (see Stephen's quote in Spidey's post above) and having others make the choice for everyone else including the creator of the work not to have it available--which is the kind of censorship Stephen is against.

Yes, he understands why in some situations a book should not be available, e.g. school libraries. You may have missed his essay about this which we have posted in the Library. Rather than my paraphrasing, here's the link if you'd like to read it in its entirety.
 

skimom2

Just moseyin' through...
Oct 9, 2013
15,668
91,909
USA
#7
There is a completely pragmatic reason why Mr. King would continue to leave it out of print: the risk of legal action, should this book be blamed for a shooting (school or otherwise), particularly in light of the public statement that Spidey quoted. At this point, he might as well just put a big bullseye on his chest if he decided otherwise. As I've said before, lawsuits are not fun for the whole family, kiddos. Lawyers look for the deepest pockets to pick, and it would be easy peasy lemon squeezy to use Mr. King's statement as his acknowledgement that he had produced a 'dangerous' work. It's a quick jump to, "Therefore, he is legally liable if someone claims that is a book that set them off."

Do I think a book, song, movie is responsible for crackpots and the things they do? Absolutely not. But I respect artists who do look at liability issues (or do crappy endorsements, for that matter). They are not just responsible for themselves, but also for family, staff, etc.
 

Rrty

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
1,286
3,981
#8
Ms. Mod, thanks for the reply. I did miss that essay, so I appreciate you linking it. I will have to study it more later, but on first read, I'm not sure it wholly supports an argument against my thesis, especially the part about the school library.

The culture of entertainment has been cited as an influencing factor for a lot of things, toward many different age groups. In fact, I can recall when it was said that some CIA torturers may have taken a few cues from movies and/or TV shows.

It is definitely his decision, certainly, no one is arguing that, and I obviously would never dislike him for that. The decision itself, its basis, though, is disagreeable to me. And it does discredit, in my mind, his stance on censorship of ideas. Like I said, he can never argue against a local library director who honestly believed that she needed to remove one of his books because it might cause harm in her community. That's troubling to me, to be honest. That's the hypothetical to look at. "I have decided to remove It from our stacks because there are depictions of cruelty in there that might wrongly impress younger readers. And the book itself, because it features youth as the main agents of the narrative for part of the work in total, indeed could attract incorrectly-aged patrons. Some of it, in fact, takes place in a library, and it is possible kids might do something in the library as a result." Besides maybe having an honest fear of what damage the book could do, as King has with his other book, the librarian could also use protection of kids as a cover for her own personal biases. If a librarian did that, King would have to be supportive, he would not be able to call it censorship.

Another thing that crossed my mind is that he was worried about legal action as well, since someone who claimed Rage caused something to happen might be entertained by a court. All I can say about that is I don't think the person would win, and I would hope a judge wouldn't allow a case to go forward. The Supreme Court ruled that violent video games can be sold to minors if a store is willing to do it, that no law can prevent that, and that a law that prevents such sales would be inconsistent with the First Amendment, and the rights of minors under that amendment. That might be a precedent upon which an author could stand.

The whole Rage thing has me worried too because I wanted to write a novella based on some recent violence in the headlines and put it up on Amazon. Although I probably would never be sued over it because I probably won't sell a copy of my work and no one would ever read it, I always worry about that because a lawsuit could kill me, even defending one that is successful for me. And it is literally like Rage, although on a different subject. I love the idea, and it would be fun to write, but it does make me think. It's too bad writers aren't really free, that they actually can be sued for a piece of fiction.

I appreciate the discussion, Ms. Mod...
 

Moderator

Ms. Mod
Administrator
Jul 10, 2006
47,453
122,390
Maine
#9
In his case, it wasn't a hypothetical and it wasn't just about censorship. It had been brought up time and again that Rage had been found among the possessions of shooters in more than just the Columbine shooting. As his statement clearly says, he did not think for a minute that their reading it was the catalyst for their actions but he wasn't going to continue to have it be perceived as that. I wish I could find a link to the Court TV interview he did about Rage but I've searched to no avail numerous times. It's on my to do list to find a contact there to see if they would be willing to allow us to post it in our Multimedia section.
 

Kingfisher

Well-Known Member
Jan 1, 2015
55
274
26
#10
The Internet has superseded print and fills people's heads with enough vitriolic hate to make you sick. I don't believe you should be able to sue people over what you, as an author or publisher, have written. Mass murders or individual attacks are terroristic in their value to destroy a writer's given right to, well, write. As France has shown, a religious parody is enough for a murder. Don't give print as an excuse of a catalyst for attacks. Those who take the lives of innocents, their hands are led by their own evils and hate and we should never cave to them. You never give into the evil in the hearts of others.
 

Rrty

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
1,286
3,981
#11
Ms. Mod, if you ever can find a video of that, it would be helpful, I would love to see it.

I remember some of that, about the book and the Columbine shooting. I didn't realize the book was found to be related in other shootings, but I can believe it.

It doesn't change my opinion, but I can see how it might be difficult for King's conscience to keep the book in print.

I believe firearms should be regulated intensely; I can't stand the NRA, it is a hysterical organization to me (and it completely, purposefully misses the point of the Second Amendment debate, just to make money and to justify its misguided, horrific, political existence). Yet, I am forced to borrow a phrase from that group of intellectually-stunted ludicrousness -- books don't kill people, people kill people. The reason such a phrase should not be applied to the debate over firearm regulation is because firearms were designed for one purpose, a purpose for which books were never intended. I do believe that the nonexistence of a particular, specific book might indeed mean that a tragedy might not occur -- put more simply, less inelegantly, perhaps, yes, maybe a certain work might cause someone who has read it to do something he may otherwise wouldn't have done had he not read the work in question. We can't argue against that because we know movies might influence someone to smoke, to vote in a certain way, etc. Product placement in TV shows has value, so why wouldn't idea-placement in a piece of fiction possess similar advertisable consequences?

Thankfully, most humans don't seem to work that way. If we suddenly made a law to allow everyone to trade LEAP options in their 401k plans, most people probably wouldn't do it, only a few would do it in haphazard ways that would crush their portfolios; the majority would stay in safer securities. And we have laws in place, as well as policing institutions, that at least make it difficult for the less sane amongst us to run amok. In addition, we know that certain beneficial implementations will cause small amounts of harm here and there -- e.g., raising a speed limit.

I thank you again for the discussion, and please don't take my thoughts as trying to change your mind on the subject. I enjoy putting some organs and flesh to a bag-of-bones argument, if you will (I hope I am remembering and using that metaphor correctly, I think it was in the book about TR-90 or King mentioned it in an interview about the title).
 
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Rrty

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
1,286
3,981
#14
Ms. Mod,

I just watched the video, and only wanted to add another post to this thread after seeing it, just to put my thoughts on record in light of the clip, not to engage debate, as Mr. King is doing what he thinks is best, and that's fine by me, the issue is closed on that.

It was extremely interesting and adds a lot of context to the discussion...a lot.

Just briefly, King is generally correct (most likely, because we can never really know about this subject): a disturbed individual probably has many triggers.

However, I'm sure there are some individuals who may only have one, and that certain books or pieces of entertainment may be the one. If they did not exist, perhaps the potentially-violent individuals would never act out. Perhaps some works are no different than agents that can cause disease, the words acting as toxic particles for the mind.

I have to reiterate, since King brought up the analogy between books and guns and personal responsibility: to be consistent, he would have to favor laws that keep kids away from violent movies, and he would have to support laws that regulate the sale of books in bookstores. To the best of my knowledge, and based on a Supreme Court case a few years ago, save for adult books/magazines like Playboy, that has been deemed unconstitutional (businesses themselves, however, can set up whatever rules they choose).

It's interesting because I presume King is in favor of government intervention as it concerns poverty. I am, too. He believes there is a role for government in the welfare of people. Well, if books can accelerate insanity, maybe there is a role for government there, too. Maybe individuals who have mental issues, even if they are adults, should not be allowed to check out certain books. That is one slippery slope, though.

I was going to write a short story once (and maybe I still will) about someone who comes up with a method of torture that never existed and wants to write a piece of fiction centered on it. He searches for it online. Comes up empty. A few days later, he searches again...there are thousands of sites/stories dedicated to the method.

Freedom of speech, and thoughts, can be powerful (as we've found out in recent events). I respect his decision. Maybe it was the right one.
 

RichardX

Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2006
1,658
4,023
#15
I'm sure the Columbine shooters had a lot of books, movies, and video games in their possession. Most kids do. None of those are responsible for their actions. There is something inherently wrong with people like that. They may be attracted to violent depictions in the media, but those aren't what cross the wires in their brains. Inadvertentely, by pulling the book, King may actually have added support to those who claim otherwise by giving the impression that he believes his book was a supporting cause of their actions. All books should be available. But even if you believe books, movies and video games are a contributing factor to these acts, we know from prior experience that banning something only brings greater attention to it. There is nothing better for the sale of a book than publicity that is has been banned for some reason.
 

AnnaMarie

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2012
6,974
28,795
Other
#17
I'm sure the Columbine shooters had a lot of books, movies, and video games in their possession. Most kids do. None of those are responsible for their actions. There is something inherently wrong with people like that. They may be attracted to violent depictions in the media, but those aren't what cross the wires in their brains. Inadvertentely, by pulling the book, King may actually have added support to those who claim otherwise by giving the impression that he believes his book was a supporting cause of their actions. All books should be available. But even if you believe books, movies and video games are a contributing factor to these acts, we know from prior experience that banning something only brings greater attention to it. There is nothing better for the sale of a book than publicity that is has been banned for some reason.
But the book wasn't banned. It was pulled.

It's been how many years now? And it has not caused a great amount of attention. I know people who celebrate banned book week by always reading a banned book. Rage is never part of that.

Freedom of speech requires freedom to not speak as well. Otherwise it's not freedom. King never tried to recall the books or have them pulled from libraries. He just chose to stop allowing it to be printed. What he said is "out there" but he is not choosing to continue saying it.
 

prufrock21

Well-Known Member
Jun 2, 2011
2,842
11,729
The Caribbean
#18
Let Rage live (as a book I mean). You wouldn't consider pulling Psycho from theaters, even though it entails controversial themes.
First and foremost Rage is a work of art, a novel. It is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a manual for destruction. To consider it other than a novel says more about the reader than it does about the book, or the author.
 

kingricefan

All-being, keeper of Space, Time & Dimension.
Jul 11, 2006
28,344
115,481
Spokane, WA
#19
Let Rage live (as a book I mean). You wouldn't consider pulling Psycho from theaters, even though it entails controversial themes.
First and foremost Rage is a work of art, a novel. It is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a manual for destruction. To consider it other than a novel says more about the reader than it does about the book, or the author.
Rage was not written as a manual for destruction, but some have used it as a springboard for such purposes. Yes, the shooters are (or were, since alot of them are dead now) mentally off balance and that's not King's fault. It's his choice to not allow it to be re-printed for this exact reason. We don't pull Psycho because we don't have any killers dressing up like their Mothers and going around stabbing folks while they're in the shower, at least to my knowledge. As King says- it's (the book) out there, if you want to take the time to find the book. I suggest you do it soon because the prices keep going up and up and up. King isn't obligated to any of us to make sure that we get to read his books. He can decide to pull any or all from print if he wishes.
 

RichardX

Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2006
1,658
4,023
#20
But the book wasn't banned. It was pulled.

It's been how many years now? And it has not caused a great amount of attention. I know people who celebrate banned book week by always reading a banned book. Rage is never part of that.

Freedom of speech requires freedom to not speak as well. Otherwise it's not freedom. King never tried to recall the books or have them pulled from libraries. He just chose to stop allowing it to be printed. What he said is "out there" but he is not choosing to continue saying it.
The result is the same. In fact, no one other than the author could prohibit the sell of a book. So it is even a broader ban than a government or some other entity "banning" the book. Whether its terrorists, hackers, or mentally ill people like the Columbine shooters taking issue or being influenced by a work, you can't simply allow those types to dictate who reads a book or sees a movie. I think King's intentions are good but misguided. It certainly is his legal right as the author not to have it in print. That's not the issue though.
 
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