Monday, September 20, 2010

Speak Loudly

Over the weekend, the Twitterverse exploded with the news that an associate professor called books such as Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer immoral, demeaning, and basically "soft core pornography."

Read his rant here. His official, 29-page complaint to the school board can be read here. My response? Ugg. And maybe also "Eff you." Luckily, everyone else has responded much more intelligently and eloquently. The blogosphere and Twitterverse immediately lit up with protests (you can view everyone's posts by searching the #SpeakLoudly hashtag). Laurie Halse Anderson responded by saying:

My fear is that good-hearted people in Scroggins’ community will read his piece and believe what he says. And then they will complain to the school board. And then the book will be pulled and then all those kids who might have found truth and support in the book will be denied that. In addition, all the kids who have healthy emotional lives but who hate reading, will miss the chance to enjoy a book that might change their opinion.

Read her entire blog post here.

Sarah Ockler responded on her blog as well:

I’m not going to spend a lot of time defending my book other than to say what those who’ve read it already know — despite its lighthearted title, TBS is not about parties and sex. It’s about two girls struggling in the aftermath of a major tragedy, with grieving parents and unfamiliar situations and secrets that threaten to kill their friendship. It’s a scary world for them, and my job as a writer is to tell their story honestly, without judgment. And I know I’ve done my job because I hear from teens who’ve experienced devastating loss, and they tell me how much the book meant to them or how they could relate to the characters more than they can relate to their own friends somtimes. One email like that is all I needed to know that I did what I set out to do.

Her blog post is here.

There have also been some beautiful, supportive blog posts in response. One powerful, moving post is by C.J. Redwine who says:

But here's the truth. Rape happens to girls in high school and younger all the time. Ignoring it, silencing it, refusing to look at the terrible consequences doesn't make it go away. I'm a Christian and am passionate about my faith, and I cringe when I see things like this because there's a difference between being outspoken about SINS, like rape, and being outspoken against something that might help the victims.

And this is the part of this post that has me feeling like maybe throwing up would be preferable to typing, but I'm a big girl now and it's time to exercise my right to speak.

I'm a rape survivor.

Read her entire post here.

There are more amazing blog posts here, here, here, and here, the latter with additional links.

Fittingly enough, next week is Banned Books Week. Let's celebrate the freedom to read! Speak Loudly, everyone!


Philip Nel said...

Thanks for collecting these! To add my own voice to the already (and happily) crowded field, here's my contribution to the conversation:

Pam Pho said...

Thank you for adding my post (bookalicious) to yours. Speak is a book that is close to my heart for many reasons and collecting data on this proposed banning is so very important. Many people feel the same and the Twibbon had over 1,000 supporters in 20 hours!

Sarah @ Y.A. Love said...

Thank you for writing this! I spoke to my students about this today and had them read Scroggins' article and Laurie's blog post. I also had them read my response so we could discuss all the different view points. A couple of my students wrote great responses and I expect more tomorrow at my book club meeting after school.

Here's my contribution:

Marjorie said...

I've been reading about this horror story - and thank you for all your links. I didn't know the book but I'm certainly going to seek it out now.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks for this post with all the links. I hope everyone watches the video of Laurie Halse Anderson reading her "Speak" poem. It "speaks" volumes.

The Newbie Novelist said...

Wow, thank you Blue Rose Girls for linking to my blog on your site! Usually I just go about my merry way, but this was definitely an issue I HAD to Speak Loudly about. I can only hope the personal testimony of so many that have also spoken out will help us all be LOUDER THAN THE BANNERS!

I have enjoyed peeking around your site- thanks again!