Laurie Halse Anderson posting on Twitter about an attack on her book, SPEAK. Please go here to read her blog about it. It's got my blood boiling, so I had to do what I can.
The man in question, Dr. Wesley Scoggins, is a associate professor of management at Missouri State University. In his letter to the editor, he derides all manner of things, but the thrust of his argument is that public schools should not expose children to inappropriate sexual material. On it's face, it's not a bad argument, but it's the things he's opposed to that have my hackles up.
He wants Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE banned as well (and according to the editor's note at the end, it has been), which is a topic I can't even handle right now. Vonnegut? VONNEGUT?! Are you KIDDING me? But I'll leave that self-evident and focus on Anderson's work.
SPEAK is a beautifully written, honest, often funny, often heartbreaking story of a 15 year-old girl who is universally hated at her high school because she called the cops during an end-of-summer party, thereby ruining everyone's fun. The narrator, Melinda, take the bulk of the book to reveal that she called the police not because she's a consummate party pooper, but because she was raped at the party. Melinda is paralyzed with fear and finds herself unable to tell anyone what happened to her. It takes her an entire year to find the courage while she suffers through depression, withdrawl and social isolation.
SPEAK has helped hundreds, probably thousands, of young women and men find the courage to speak out about their own experiences with sexual assault. It's an important work that tells teenagers the truth. It is NOT as, Scoggins suggests, soft-core pornography.
I'm sickened at the thought that his protests will be met with anything but dismissal. Rape happens. It happens to Christians, too, Mr. Scoggins. And it won't go away if we don't talk about it.
Do what you can to fight those who would stop you from reading what you want to read. If a book offends you, you don't have to read it. But I don't think it's anyone's right to decide what's available to everyone else.