I have a complex opinion on Sen. Feinstein’s desire to ban The Anarchist Cookbook.

Background here.  Anyway:

  • On the one hand, I agree that free speech includes ‘speech that you don’t like.’
  • On the other hand, I also agree that ‘Here’s how to make a Molotov cocktail to throw at authority figures’ more or less deliberately aims to stretch ‘speech that you don’t like’ to the breaking point, or possibly beyond it.
  • On the gripping hand, as I understand it trying to follow the recipes found in The Anarchist’s Cookbook is an excellent way to blow yourself up.  Or, to further quote Niven and Pournelle: think of it as evolution in action*.

So I guess that I have a good, practical reason to keep the book available.  Admittedly, it’s also a messy reason, but that’s life for you –  or in this case, ‘explosive death.’  Besides, I’m not the one who has to clean the walls afterward.

Via Hot Air Headlines.

Moe Lane

*Charles Stross prefers the term ‘autodarwinate.’ Which also has its points.

16 thoughts on “I have a complex opinion on Sen. Feinstein’s desire to ban The Anarchist Cookbook.”

  1. I find book banning to be abhorrent regardless of how noble the reasons behind it. And do they honestly think that the kind of person that would put that to use would just give up if the book wasn’t available in print? I mean, it’s not like we have ways to get things via computer…
    And yes, I have also heard that a lot of the stuff in the cookbook is wrong. I have also heard rumors that the reasons behind it were to weed out the stupid.

    1. “And yes, I have also heard that a lot of the stuff in the cookbook is wrong. I have also heard rumors that the reasons behind it were to weed out the stupid.”

      Sure, I heard those rumors all the way back in the 80s, and nobody I knew was dumb enough to go looking for the recipes for that very reason.

      Also there were rumors that it was all a ruse for the Feds to find people who wanted to blow up buildings and the like. Dianne Feinstein’s either really dumb or just needs to stay in the news if, 30 years later, she is talking about this stuff.

      Having typed that, I bet it’s the latter.

  2. Used to leaf through my university’s copy when I worked at its library. The notion of banning it seems pretty quaint nowadays as whatever info it contains is on the web in probably more accurate form.

  3. I had a copy, long ago, in my mis-spent youth. The recipes in it were pretty much useless; simple procedures that were wildly dangerous, or sophisticated ones that required industrial chemicals, top-notch lab equipment, and serious training. Mostly I bought it to have, and mostly that’s what I did with it – had it. Techdirt’s got a good writeup on it today.
    Now the huge amount of declassified or unclassified military training material available on the Web? THAT might be useful to the wrong hands. Doesn’t matter, though, and I’m grateful for the First Amendment. Idiots like Senator Feinstein are not the people I want deciding what information is safe enough to read.

  4. On one paw, it’s a decades-old out of date book. It’s almost .. quaint .. that Feinstein considers it a threat.
    On the other paw, a minie ball will still really mess up your day. It’s often harder, per H. Beam Piper**, to get rid of a dangerous idea than to get rid of scientific fact.
    On the third paw, the irony of a self-proclaimed liberal wanting to ban books is a rather classical example of the transmogrification from outsider to ruler and subsequent use of levers of power to retain ones’ position.
    On the last paw, the irony that a Dem politician wants to ban this, at the same time the Dems are backing more and more protests is .. amazingly thick and rich.
    So .. sure, go ahead DiFi, ban away .. it’s impossible, thanks to almighty interwebs, but it’s a nice reminder of the true Dem constituency .. their own ruling class.
    ** Uller Uprising, IIRC.

    1. Why not? They want to ban firearms just as passionately so this goes along with their mindset.

  5. Because it’s so hard to make a Molotov cocktail.
    Of course, she’s one of the people who has made it difficult to buy saltpetre. Because making bacon at home is such a threat. (Sure, it’s easy enough to make saltpetre, but I’m not nearly that hardcore.)

    1. Amen. Bacon cure? Fertilizer? Ban, restrict, control, demonize. Liquid volatile toxic organic chemicals with huge flame and vapor detonation potential? Sell by the gallon at 7-11 for cash. What a country.

  6. Nixon didn’t dare ban a book, but Democrats, now in a position of authority, have no qualms about nullifying constitutional rights they once championed. The Left has no principles, only tactics and a goal: power.

  7. It is my understanding that the book was compiled by a highschooler from the public library.
    It seems likely that thinking about things like limits of free speech or weeding out the stupid was beyond him.
    It also seems probable that I could have done a better job, and I’m not competent to discuss the subject. As a chemist, I make an okay computer technician. I burn hot dogs, my lab technique is bad, I am in no way capable of practicing chemistry. I am also extremely risk averse, and have never had any great interest in manufacturing or handling explosives.

  8. Let’s see …
    ✔ Legislation to ban books with “dangerous” content
    ✔ Blacklisting people who hold the wrong political opinions
    ✔ Denial of due process for defendants in crimes
    ✔ Legislation to prevent people from saying or writing “offensive” words
    ✔ Erasing records to deny subpoenaed evidence to Congressional investigations
    ✔ Persecuting political enemies via the IRS
    ✔ Accusing political opponents of treason
    God DAMN those RethugliKKKans! … Oh, wait.

  9. Taking your instructions on “How To Be A Terrorist” off of the freely available internet should be painful. Now if I were the FBI – and I am not – I would put these things out just to see who this “bait” may “hook” for me.*

    * I remember back in the early 1980’s people who had the ‘Anarchist’s Cookbook’ and I declined to read it or find a copy for just that sort of thing.

  10. I tend to argue against book bannings, regardless of subject…I also remember seeing this book in the 70s …and was not inclined to follow any of the recipes per your very appropos quote from Niven and Pournelle.

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