Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Book Week Ahoy

Banned Book Week is coming up again (huzzah?), which means that book banning is in the news. Banned Books Week happens one week a year, but that doesn't mean the banners and challengers and nay-sayers and finger-wavers go away for the other 51. Y'all, I puzzled over this deeply last year before realizing that when Banned Book Week is nigh, the reporters notice news of book banning more. Face, meet palm.

This week's book-banning news/reason for crawling under your bed and sobbing gently over the future of America comes to us from Missouri, where a university professor (I know. I know!) has decried the curriculum of his local school district. Under attack: sex ed (natch), and required reading, specifically the high school's, which asks students to read the Vonnegut anti-war classic Slaughterhouse-Five, Sarah Ockler's beautiful and sensitive Twenty-Boy Summer, and Laurie Halse Anderson's yes-yes-yes-it's-really-that-good Speak.

But you know what burns my butter? And that of a lot of other people? This quote:
In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography.

One such book is called "Speak." . . . As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes.

Jeebus Christmas.

Some more facts about this prof: his children do not go to the school under attack. So apparently he's prompted by his deep sense of . . . community welfare? Or something? He was also a speaker at a recent seminar called "Reclaiming Missouri for Christ."

I am religious. Some of you know this, some of you don't. (Now you do.) It's very dismaying to see an entire group of people painted with the Crayyyy-zee Brush because some isolated members choose to use religion as a club. Y'know what? Most of us want to live our lives and love our neighbors, not batter them into a fine paste that can then be reshaped in our own image. There's only One who gets to do that, and trust me, Scroggins, you ain't Him.

Something fascinating and new this year is the amount of religious response to this book banning. Like this, from Paul, who writes his post as a dialogue between himself and Christ. This is the final line:
“Paul (I love it when Jesus calls me by my name), I got crucified by a mob. Mobs come from fear. And fear happens when you don’t trust people to think for themselves… For the love of God, give your kids the freaking books.”
Thanks to David Lubar for that link, which almost made me cry at work.

Laurie Halse Anderson's post on the challenge to Speak has some great links by which you can respond to Scroggins, the school board, and the news media in Republic, Missouri.

Author Shannon Hale, blogging from bedrest (the woman is expecting twins any day now and still blogs! Hard-core, Hale. Hard. Core.) had this to say:
"The purpose of literature is not to represent perfect characters, an ideal world, where everyone acts kindly and appropriately. There's no benefit to reading that story, there's no learning, no questioning, no growing for the reader. I want to share just one more thing about the power and importance of great books, and why we need them free and available in libraries."
She then quotes from another blogger, which I will make you click through and read because double-quoting is kinda weird. Shannon Hale, you are awesome.

The blogosphere's afire over this one, naturally, and bless her heart, Reclusive Bibliophile has compiled a list of all the posts. There's also a Twitter hashtag, #SpeakLoudly.

1 comment:

*m* said...

wow. Speak? really?? someone has issues. one of the most important things a book can do for you is to open you up to new ideas/experiences/ways of thinking. learning! aargh. okay, sorry, preaching to the choir, i know . . . :)