Sunday, September 19, 2010

#SpeakLoudly for SPEAK

This morning, I woke to find 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.

*Dismounting soapbox.*


- Liz


Kristan said...

Right on, Liz! Now I'm wishing I'd bought the copy of Speak that I saw on shelves this weekend... Well, I'll get it at some point. Thanks for bringing this to our attentions!

Eleven Eleven said...

I don't believe in book banning, but I also don't believe in required exposure to the kind of stuff a movie theater won't let kids watch without an accompanying adult.

I bought the book and look forward to reading it. I'm confident my world views are developed and solid enough to tackle the issues Mr. Scoggins confused as pornographic. My kids' world views are not so developed, though. Will they be by high school? I hope so, and I'll do what I can to help, but I don't own that process, they do. My job as a parent is to watch their progress and discern what they can handle and when.

Put it in the library, even advertise it in the hall as a tool for coping with sexual assault. Don't ban the book, but don't require it either. Just inform people about its content, make it available, and let them decide for themselves.

Kate said...

I read about this, actually, and find it absolutely absurd. I think that, first of all, sexual abuse does happen. Second of all, Laurie Halse Anderson did Melinda's flashbacks in a very tactful way, I think. It's not in the least pornographic! Not to mention the fact that the book I'm writing would probably be banned, too...if it ever gets published. Regardless, I've been Speaking up for Speak ever since I heard of this, and I'm definitely going to continue to do so. Not to mention the other books that people are trying to get banned...grr.