Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Last week, in honor of Banned Books Week, I ordered SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson because of the ruckus I'd been reading about this one man's attempt to get it banned from his local school system, (albeit a school system his children do not attend and that he is not affiliated with) for being "soft pornography"—no less because of rape scenes in the story.

This infuriated me for so many reasons, as I mentioned in my previous blog post.

I got the book last Friday and started reading it then, but as goes most of my weekends, I had things to do that kept me from what I most wanted to do.

Monday I got wrapped up in some revisions of one of my own manuscripts, but yesterday I got back to reading SPEAK. So deep in the story, I read through it in just a couple of hours, through laughter and tears. I had to step away from the computer yesterday and try to compose myself and my thoughts. I'm still having a hard time really putting into words what I'm feeling. I honestly wish I had known of this book's existence before now.

It is apparent that Mr. Scroggins did not read the book he's so adamant to get rid of—or if he did, he failed miserably to understand and recognize irony in the sarcastic "thoughts" of Melinda, the 13-year-old heroine of the story.

The greatest injustice here is a massive lack of objectivity-

You have to read a story and get to know the character and his/her situation. You can't do that by going into it emotionally blocked and with the only intention of finding EVERYTHING you think is wrong, immoral and filthy.

He basically judged a book by it's cover and the few lines that "jumped out" at him. His inadequate knowledge and single minded determination to rid his "world" of all things he deems sinful, wrong and immoral for children to be "subjected" to only further bolsters his self-righteous indignation.

For a man who so strongly supports educating and teaching the "truth" he needs to remember that sometimes the truth is ugly, that life is NOT always fair and that you cannot tuck your children away from the world and shield them from everything.

If he doesn't like the way the school system handles these things, then he doesn't have to send his kids to those schools. It's a simple solution. To my understanding, only one of his children attends the public school.

Being he's never been a girl, or a teenage one at that, I'm willing to bet he was that special adolescent who never did anything wrong. I'm sure he was the perfect son who never rebelled against the wishes of his parents or authorities. I guess he never felt like the adults around him were foolish, stupid and oblivious to the perils of being a hormonal teenager and he never misbehaved or did ANY of the things he finds so morally reprehensible in these books he wants banned.

I'm also willing to bet that he's never been raped and has NO understanding of how HARD it is to talk about what happened, let alone believe you aren't the only one suffering the pain and agony and fear. You feel like the ONLY person who's ever been attacked, ever been violated in such a personal way and that no one else could possibly understand.

The selections he skimmed from the story for his examples were taken GREATLY out of context and he clearly misrepresented the book to the best of his ability to make it appear he knew what he was talking about. He armed himself with all the "lines" that seemed to most significantly get his fanatical point across.

He defined the book and scenes in the book as "soft pornography" in his opinion piece, but amusingly, he has since tried to retract that definition when his use of it was called into question. In fact, he claims he didn't call it that at all, though it's clear that he did.

SPEAK is a far cry from the "definition" Mr. Scroggins labeled it. The rape scenes are in NO way gratuitous or graphic. They do not inspire sexual arousal, but more a sense of anger and desire to see justice- not just for Melinda, but for anyone who has ever gone through such a thing.

My children are still too young yet to read SPEAK, but only because neither of them have had sex education in school- YET. Once they have been educated about their changing bodies, hormones and sex, I think SPEAK will be a great learning tool to share with them and discuss. There are a lot of good points to learn from in the book- girls aren't objects, we are not alone in this world in times of trouble, and most importantly- never be afraid to SPEAK.

I will encourage my kids to read this and other banned/contested books, even if it isn't required in our school system. I, for one, would rather arm my children with knowledge and understanding and love than send them out into this big world wearing rose-colored glasses that tint their views with ignorance, misgivings and close-mindedness.

No comments: