Tuesday 21 September 2010

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Our Right to Speak

speak by laurie halse andersonI am outraged. I am disgusted. I am appalled. I am genuinely close to tears.

If you're fairly active in the blogosphere, you probably know what I'm on about without me having to explain. Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, thinks Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is "soft pornography".

I haven't said anything on this subject so far simply because I have yet to read Speak, though I have always wanted to. Thinking that I can't really comment when I haven't read the book, I've kept quiet. But reading the posts of other people over the last few days has made me want to say my piece.

How anyone can consider rape to be soft porn is beyond me. Sure, books are written to be enjoyed, but it is never going to be the intention of the author for readers to enjoy reading rape scenes. If Mr Scroggins seriously thinks that this is the intention of Halse Anderson... I really don't know what to say. If he's making these comments without having actually read the novel, which seems likely considering his description of it compared to the blurb, I have a huge problem with him. How dare he say such things without knowing what the hell he's talking about?!

I am no longer a school kid, nor do I live in America, so his suggestion of removing this novel from schools will not effect me. But it will effect others. How many people have been helped by reading books? How many people have been touched by reading books? How many people have been given the strength to speak out by reading books? And Mr Scroggins wants to take this away from them? From school kids? I hate to think there could be teenagers who will suffer in silence about the abuse they've received because they weren't allowed to read a book that could help them get there. This is a possible consequence of what Mr Scroggins is proposing. And he has the audacity to talk about immorality?! I am so incensed, I am completely at a loss for what to say.

And this is without even touching the topic of the kids who will be denied the simple enjoyment that comes with reading, even if it is on such a subject.

I have just ordered a copy of Speak which I will be reading soon after it has arrived. I encourage all of you to get your voice heard. As taken from Laurie Halse Anderson's blog, here are some things you can do to help:

Twitterfeed - #SpeakLoudly – where people can tweet their opinions.

Please share your experiences with SPEAK; your own response to the book, or the way you’ve seen it work in a school setting. Tahleen has already posted her thoughts on her blog. You can do the same. Please share links to your blog in Comments here.

But then, please speak up to the people who can make a real difference in Republic, MO.
You can submit a letter to the editor of the News-Leader.

You can write to the superintendent of the Republic School District, Dr. Vern Minor, or to the high school principal, Daren Harris.

You can comment directly to Scroggins’ opinion piece.

Let's get us heard!


  1. Great post, Jo! I decided to blog about this yesterday and like you I haven't read speak and I live in Norway so a ban wouldn't affect me but still the topic concerns me so I wanted to speak up as well.

    Like you and probably many others I've ordered a copy of Speak.

  2. Thank you! Off to check out your post now. It just makes me so mad! I can't believe him! Really looking forward to reading Speak! I know it's going to be amazing!

  3. This is just nonsensical. I can't imagine how anyone can confuse rape scenes and soft porn. Like you, I haven't read Speak but it's been on my to-read list for ages, because I've heard over and over how good it is supposed to be.

  4. I know, it's just ridiculous! I'm really looking forward to reading Speak once it arrives! :)

  5. I love what you said here, especially about the possibility that a hurting student might be deprived of a book that could help her find her voice and speak out about what happened to her. I just read Speak; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  6. Thank you, I appreciate it! I'm really looking forward to reading it! :)