Last week a Republic (Springfield), Missouri parent and college professor wrote an opinion piece in the local newspaper, The News-Leader. Among other things this person identifies Laurie Halse Anderson's award-winning book, Speak, as soft pornography. Anyone who has read this book knows that Speak is a condemnation of rape and of casual sex. It is about a girl who is so traumatized by being raped that she can't speak and she spirals into a deep depression. This 1999 book is powerful in helping students recognize the need to seek help, to ask for what we need. Sure doesn't sound like any pornography I've ever seen or heard of.
Laurie Halse Anderson responded in her blog. Here is a quote from that blog:
The fact that he sees rape as sexually exciting (pornographic) is disturbing, if not horrifying. It gets worse, if that’s possible, when he goes on to completely mischaracterize the book.
Some people say that I shouldn’t make a big deal about this. That I am giving him more attention than he deserves. But this guy lives about an hour and half from the school district that banned Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN this month. (Where they not only banned it from class usage but also voted to have it removed from the library shelves.) 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.
Bravo for Ms. Anderson. We all have to stand up when the censors get out their guns and fire away with lies and half-truths. We can't sit idly by and think to ourselves, "Well, that would never happen in my community." Today Missouri, tomorrow your home town.
In honor of banned books week read
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Afterwards donate it to your local secondary school library.