Rationale For a King

I despise hardcopy dictionaries. With today’s technology and language changes, looking up words can be easily done online. Language evolves, paper does not. Ideas shouldn’t be held at a disadvantage as definitions advance.

Not when technology can improve life.

What can we enact to bring this interest to the people? And not just to me, your King?

Culture exists as we are, today. Language helps distribute these unique details of us. Culture is stratified by money. People can most easily-access opportunities, and pursue wealth, with continuous knowledge built of carefully shaped bricks– that is, words and definitions. Definitions controlled via the internet are as current as can be. Let it be understood: The right to a free benefit is an easy sale.

Paper dictionaries are dead knowledge. When paper books become out-of-date– sometimes instantly, immediately after printing– there’s no recall process. We can’t get those books back. The “facts” continue to present themselves as truth. As this happens, paper books carry information we now know is misleading, harmful, and sometimes deadly. I don’t want anyone I care about reading printed dictionaries, or paper books of any kind.

Not when there’s a risk of harm.

Dear people, glow in this: There is no cause more noble than serving the greater good. Citizens, each one of you, can make a personal choice to destroy every dictionary you come across.

How far would that get you? And how well would our society be carried forward?

If the greater good is served with our individual actions, why can’t we amplify this virtue? The political side that wants to defend “book choice” are like people at the playground who want to play catch with a hand grenade. Newsflash: Your chosen entertainment does not legitimatize putting others in danger. Nor should you be allowed to put yourself in danger.

Not when we must bear the costs of your injury. Or fall ill at the sight of your disgusting wounds.

Dictionaries are even worse to handle than grenades. I say this because the reader doesn’t realize the harm in old pages. You must not use outdated words, and you must not carry-over obsolete definitions to terms still in use. This is why society is best suited when a noble group acts on the people’s behalf.

We can order retailers and distributors to stop the sale of paper dictionaries. We can flood social media at the used-bookstore level. We can allow protests, boycotts, and looting. For our good purpose, and not necessarily in our name.

If you are against this initiative, you are put on warning. Old words hurt. Outdated definitions scar. We know better. I’ll take it further. We know better than you.

Everything evolves. By your acceptance of those two words, you’d best come to another understanding: You own nothing.

You don’t own your electronic files. You have to gain several permissions just to open any one of “your” documents. You’re just not aware of those consents. You’re not even aware the documents in question aren’t stored on your computer at all, not anymore. They have been shifted to the cloud under our umbrella concern.

Let’s examine these permissions.

Open your laptop, press the power button. Permission number one occurs as you wait for your operating system to fulfill, or to not fulfill, your request to turn on. Enter a password and wait for permission number two as a program considers the validity of your keystrokes.

Open a file folder, wait for permission number three as the computer reviews your selection.

Now open the document of your choice. Permission four: The operating system will consider your annual paid software license status, and upon approval will proceed to grant you provisional access to what you consider your words. Finally, the computer will indulge in a longer study– permission five– to determine your eligibility to fully edit, insert, select or copy text.

Those are the five gates you must pass before you start writing. You’d better think long and hard about how you conduct yourself on such a pastime.

My government deems the following. Paper is unchanging and is out. All printed material including but not limited to books, newspapers, periodicals, magazines and letters will be placed in a sunset phase where they will be collected and recycled for non-informational use. Details of these actions will be forthcoming. Volunteering your custodial items would be appreciated and you will be granted considerations.

Each book we destroy will be made available online for everyone. That is a promise from your King.

Back to my initial imperative. It shall be mandatory for all people to check the approved online dictionary on a regular basis. To enforce this rule, which simply verifies you have fair-warning access to non-harmful words, we will work with the software company to examine what people are writing. Your access to said words is your acknowledgement of immediate use.

We seek a simple answer: What are you composing? If the content’s harmful, then the public, or their representatives, should know about it, or at least, be protected from it. Problematic passages will be flagged– change your words or we will. Objectionable sentences, pages and even chapters will be deleted or edited for appropriateness, perhaps even as you write, as necessary. The representatives will have a warning system, with a three-strikes policy, your punishment to be determined.

Yes, it is our job to keep you safe. We share the burden of your self-preservation. I’ll go further than that. We carry the sole burden.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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