September 19, 2010

Banned Books Week Is Starting A Little Early This Year...

Oh, dear.

Reading is so difficult for some people.
It's the books, you see. Filled from cover to cover with words, and ideas -- things which can't be controlled by others.

Sometimes, that fact gives people indigestion. Unfortunately, in this case it's a guy who had access to the opinion page in his newspaper. He called out Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak as soft porn. From his comments, it's obvious that he either spot-landed in the book, turning a page here or there, or he didn't read it at all.

And it makes me ... tired.

Laurie is such a person of genuine integrity, and the book is an honest and raw portrayal of a person who was the victim of an insidious betrayal -- who overcame horror and pain and spoke up about it, in order to raise up others. How the rape that occured can be construed as pornography to this guy - well, none of us want to even go there, do we? What's disturbing to me is that it will probably eventually come out that the man who wrote the opinion piece is running for some sort of public office, and feels that this polarizing rhetoric will help secure him a place in the hearts of those deeply concerned about their kids.

I really hate seeing how people play with other people's fears in order to convince them to do things. It's obscene.

But, I won't mount my soapbox - Laurie has asked for help in speaking to this situation.
First, people are invited to share, on their blogs, their experience with the book.
Second, she invites us to speak to the people of Republic, Missouri.

She also invites us to submit a letter to the editor of the News-Leader,, or write to the superintendent of the Republic School District, Dr. Vern Minor, or to the high school principal, Daren Harris.

If you're feeling brave, you can comment directly to Scroggins’ opinion piece.

Laurie is being gracious about this - but I know it must really be both hurtful and wearying to her. I am sending her a virtual masseuse and a pint of virtual ice cream.

EDITED TO ADD: This strange case has now been covered by, and is receiving national attention, due to Judy Blume to bringing the case to the attention of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

That's another virtual hug, there.

Salon's article reminds us that we've overused the word "porn" oh, way, way a lot... sooo, what is it, really? The author brings up a good point.


aquafortis said...

Argh argh argh argh!

Obviously, this makes me incoherent. I find it appalling and inhumane that anyone would consider Speak to be pornography.

I also find this more than a little ironic in light of the book itself, since this opinion writer's stance seems to (indirectly or directly; haven't read the piece yet) promote ignorance and silence over education and advocacy.

People like this always seem to me to be more concerned with preserving their children's elusive "moral sensibilities" than their actual physical and psychological health. And that truly worries me.

Here's me chipping in on the virtual masseuse and ice cream...

Saints and Spinners said...

Tanita: Tired is exactly how I felt when I first began to read about Scroggins's challenge of Speak as soft porn. As he recounted the story the way he saw it, I wondered if we had actually read the same book.

I believe I remember reading in one of Madeleine L'Engle's nonfiction books about someone challenging A Wind in the Door as pornographic because the person considered kything to be a metaphor for sex.

Enough, already.

C.K. said...

This reminds me of the parent up here who filed a formal compliant with the Toronto District School Board about The Handmaid's Tale, claiming it was anti-Christian and sexist.

Scroggins too has completely (and deliberately?) missed the point with Speak and would probably prefer that rape not be written about in YA fiction at all which is something that I can't comprehend. How will we ever change things and bring understanding to issues if we don't write about them?