the classics are all right

Re: the recent kerfuffle over the vandalism of Roald Dahl’s books, Walter Kirn tweeted “I ran into two used book stores today and grabbed classics like I was saving them from a fire.” In fact “the classics” are fine — they’re in the public domain and thanks to endeavors like Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive they are unlikely to be disappeared or bowdlerized. If you’re worried about them, just download the ones you most care about and do what you can, when the supersensitives come with their digital X-Acto knives and their infinite smugness, to let people know how to access the originals.

Likewise, living authors are safe: the supersensitives can demand changes to their works but they don’t have to agree. And if they do agree, well, that’s their business. (But if they agree against the prickings of their conscience, shame on them.) 

No, the supersensitives have a rather narrow target: dead writers whose works are still in copyright. Those are the ones vulnerable to vandalism — by those who control the copyright.