Thursday, September 23, 2010

SPEAK. Loudly.

Yesterday's post was such a hit that I wanted to leave it up for another day, but there's some really important stuff going down right now and we just need to discuss it.

I'm sure you've heard of SPEAK.

It is a raw, beautifully crafted exploration of the traumatic emotional journey of a girl who endures something unbearable, but does not feel that she can safely speak about it.

How ironic that some guy who thinks he's somebody in Springfield, MO wants to silence it.  How ironic, too, that he lives in a suburb of Springfield called Republic, and he dares to call into question the foundational belief in the right to freedom of speech for which our Republic stands.

You know, I grew up in Ohio.  When I was a teenager 15 years ago, all the things he complains about in the books were happening.  Not in books or movies, but in real life, to me and my friends.  Kids were getting drunk.  Kids were getting high.  Kids were definitely having sex, and some kids were getting pregnant.  Even at my college prep high-school, where we were supposed to be the best of the best, these things were all actually happening.  Books like SPEAK gave us the tools we needed to figure out how to handle these things and come out the other side better and stronger than before.

But let's say he's right - let's say, for argument's sake, that the only reason teenagers even get into this stuff is that they read about it or see it in movies or on TV first.  All teenagers are perfect angels, until they're corrupted by the insidious and dangerous media.  (They're not, and he's not right, but let's just suspend disbelief for a second and pretend.)

The problem is, all adults aren't.  And if my son gets mugged by an adult, or sees his girlfriend getting raped by an adult, or comes across a child getting beaten by an adult, I want him to have had access to books like SPEAK so that he knows that it is okay to talk about it and get help with it.  I want him to have the tools to succeed, no matter what crap life throws in his way.

So, let's speak up.  Blog about it, and leave links on Laurie Halse Anderson's blog to your posts.

It's time to speak.  LOUDLY.


  1. Great post.

    I don't understand how people believe these books promote rather than reflect what is going on in society. It's sad.

  2. I loved this book, and stand behind parents' ability to censor what they want for their own children--and no one else.

  3. Theresa, I agree that it is unfortunate that some people don't seem to understand the difference between discussion of a situation and advocacy.

    And Elana, YES. No-one should have the right to decide what my child reads but me. And those who have argued that having books like SPEAK in the curriculum removes their choice not to allow their children access to such books are simply incorrect - any parent has the right to request an exemption for their child. But to take the books out of libraries and out of schools? No. Schools should be a safe place for kids to talk about these things.