Did you know that it's "Banned Books Week"?
When I was in high school, the censorship craze was in full swing. During my junior year, my English teacher assigned a book report and gave us a lengthy list of books from which to choose. When I saw "The Catcher in the Rye" on the list, I immediately decided that was the book I would read. I chose it solely because it was one of the titles being bandied about as "inappropriate" for students. Thought it's been a few years and, admittedly, there are many things I don't remember about it, I do remember thinking that Holden Caufield was just a high school kid, like me and the kids I knew. His language and his actions didn't shock or offend me. He was a teenager. And... big shocker here... teenagers sometimes misbehave and cuss. Holden was a teenager with baggage struggling to find his way. Sure, his drinking and cavorting around New York City wasn't all that smart... but kids don't always make smart decisions. And besides, it's fiction, right?
So... in honor of banned books week I wanted to highlight a book that has recently received some attention when an associate professor of management at Missouri State University characterized it as "filthy, immoral", and even went so far as to call it "soft pornography", because of two rape scenes. The book is "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson... a book I've talked about here on my blog before. It's a young adult novel about a young girl who has been through a horrific trauma, and starts her freshman year of high school as a complete outcast, afraid to speak to anyone... parents, teachers, friends... about what really happened to her. It's about her journey out of that darkness. It's about her finding the courage to speak. It's a tremendous book. I read it. My twelve year old son read it. It was a good lesson for him... girls are not objects... you never know what someone is going through... look beyond what's on the surface. It is anything but filthy, immoral, and pornographic.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't pornography created and intended to cause sexual excitement? I have to wonder about anyone who'd consider the rape of a teenage girl sexually exciting. My best guess is that this fellow never read the book, but rather thumbed through it and found what he thought to be incriminating and twisted it to suit his purpose.
In the video below, Laurie Halse Anderson talks about the reader response to her book and the many, many kids who wrote to her saying this book helped them find the courage to finally talk about the things they were going through. Take a look... it really is a tremendous book.
Censorship sucks. Period.