Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.

           

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Speak Up About Speak

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Who could possibly think the YA novel Speak is pornography? Unfortunately, there's an answer to that question.  He's a guy in Missouri, Wesley Scroggins.  In an article called Filthy books demeaning to Republic education, he mischaracterizes Laurie Halse Anderson's classic YA novel Speak, the story of a young rape victim, and says it should be classified as soft pornography.  Because it contains two rape scenes.

Is the suggestion here that the purpose of writing about rape is to entertain and excite?  Because that's a pretty sick sentiment, Mr. Scroggins.  In a world where the statistics on child sexual abuse are so shockingly high, does he really think the solution is not to utter a word about the problem in books?  It's better if they don't read about someone who survived it, even if it's happening to these readers right now?

Such dangerous logic.  But then, all censorship is dangerous.  If you think a book is inappropriate (this ain't the one, let me tell you) don't read it.  And draw age-appropriate boundaries for your own children.  That's not censorship.  But when you try to get the book banned so nobody can read it, that's a serious societal problem.  Last I checked, there is still a First Amendment.  I suggest we work hard to keep it. 

I'm embedding here a fabulous poem by Laurie Halse Anderson, partly made up of reader reaction to her wonderful book. Please take a moment to listen--it's very moving.  Then take another moment to add your voice.  To speak up about Speak. There are some good suggestions for doing so on Laurie's Blog.  

To read what I wrote about censorship before this horrifying article on Speak arose, check out my blog No Return to Censorship.

Thank you for standing up to censorship.