I woke up this morning to my phone buzzing because Maureen Johnson had tweeted. Not a bad way to wake up, until I read the text and saw WHY she was tweeting. Apparently a man in Republic, MO wrote a letter to the editor calling Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson "soft pornography," and "immoral." Now, I've read Speak, and personally I don't know what kind of sick person equates rape with pornography. Especially the rape of a 15 year old virgin. I am so torn. I don't want to give this man attention. He doesn't deserve it. But Speak DOES deserve it.
I can't call Speak a fantastic book, because of the subject. However, Melinda is amazing. Her experiences and how she manages to survive is an inspiration. I am SO INCREDIBLY fortunate that I have NEVER been a victim of any kind of inappropriate sexual contact. I thank God EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. that I have always had a choice. However, I know that not everyone has that option. You can see some HORRIFYING statistics here. I work with kids every day who are victims. Who are afraid to talk to me or my coworkers. And they aren't just victims of sexual assault.Some of them are victims of physical abuse. Some of them have been given drugs or alcohol by their PARENTS. Some of them have been abandoned. Some of them are just lost. Do you think that Melinda's story would inspire them? I do. I think that books have the power to HEAL. And NO ONE has the right to stop that healing process, even if they think the message of a book is inappropriate.
If you haven't read Speak, I hope that you will pick it up. I hope that it will inspire you. I hope that you will understand why I am SO VERY ANGRY right now. I don't believe in censorship to begin with. Telling me that a BOOK will cause me to become an immoral person irks me to no end. The first amendment gives you the right to say you think a book is a piece of trash. Having a child gives you the right to decide what is appropriate for YOUR child to be exposed to. NOTHING gives you the right to say NO ONE should be exposed to a certain book/movie/song/picture/etc. You can state your opinion all day long, but book burning went out of style AGES ago.
Here are some things that inspired me to SPEAK up today:
Laurie Halse Anderson's Blog
Saundra Mitchell's Blog
THIS amazing blog entry, which made me cry
The Twitter tag #SpeakLoudly
My friend Bailey
And so many other amazingly brave blogger/tweeters/PEOPLE who shared their stories and how Speak changed their lives.
*I would like to point out that this article also discusses Slaughterhouse Five and Twenty Boy Summer, but I've never read them so I can't really talk about those books. My stance on book banning is the same for all books though...I support your right to decide if YOUR child should read a book or not, but you DO NOT have the right to choose for ALL children.