The recent post on Religious Right Watch, "Stealing Bibles," by The League looked at an organization, The Abimelechs, who steal Gideon Bibles from hotel rooms.
The trope of the Gideon Bible in a hotel room is firmly fixed in American culture, with references to hotel room bibles having been made in countless movies, novels, poems, and television shows. (The Gideon's distribution programs are international in scope, but the trope is almost certainly nowhere stronger than in the U.S.)
I was staying in a hotel in New York earlier this year, and I noticed that as well as the usual Gideon's bible, there was also a copy of the Quran. So that got me thinking - why limit the principle to religious books, why not get some science in there too?
So, I've decided that from now on, whenever I stay in a hotel room, I'm going to leave behind a copy of ... The Origin of Species.
Concerning his photo, "Gideon's Backlash," (above) he writes, "Here you see four copies freshly bought, at only £4 each, ready to take on my next trip."
People's reaction to distributed tracts and religious books is strange sometimes, including, perhaps, my own once. This blogger spied an Italian Book of Mormon on top of a piano inside Santa Maria Del Popolo while visiting in Rome in 2000. I picked it up, toured the church, stayed for a bit of a Mass, left, and then chucked the book into the bin on my way back to my hotel. In retrospect, I find my action a bit odd and inappropriate. While the book was almost certainly left, without permission, as propoganda, I suppose there was a 1 in a million chance it had been accidentally left behind by a visitor who later came back looking for it. Either way, it wasn't mine to discard, nor my job to discard it. I'm sure the parish has a janitor for that.