Sunday, September 19, 2010

SPEAKing out

Earlier this year, I took a class about Media and the Family. One section was about books. Of course, the topic of banning books came up. I wrote something about this then, but it bears repeating. As I understand it, this week is banned books week. I don't know if this is to promote banned books or draw attention to books that shouldn't be banned. Right now, I don't have the time to investigate. But I've already heard both sides of the argument. I know my position, and why. Now, I know this is a sensitive subject, but we can all respect each other even if we don't agree.

Personally, I believe NO book should ever be banned. If you think a book isn't worth reading, you don't have to read it. If you don't want your kids to read a book, then you have the right to keep it away from them. But no one has a right to tell another person what to believe. That is the heart of the banned books controversy. I think there is a lot of stuff out there that isn't worth reading. I think some of it is wrong and bad. I will teach my children to choose good books, read with them so they learn to appreciate good books, and teach them why not to read the crap. But I don't have the right to impose the same on others, especially other children. That is their parents' job.

There is one particular book that is getting some attention right now. A professor in Missouri wants it banned from high schools. Not only do I think he's wrong, but I think banning this book could do more harm than good.

SPEAK is a book about rape, about survival, about being a victim. It contains a sensitive subject. But it is only sensitive because society doesn't want to talk about it. Rape is a problem in society that won't go away by sticking our heads in the sand. Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is an invitation for evil play unawares. We need to be willing to talk about it so more victims will feel safe coming forward. We need to talk about it so abusers get the message that what they are doing is wrong. Talking about rape doesn't condone it. Quite the opposite, if society will talk more openly about rape and other forms of abuse, we will have more to fight the problem with.

Laurie Halse Anderson, the author, has spoken up about the issue of her book being banned. I strongly suggest you read her post about it here. SPEAK has encouraged more people to speak up about their abuse, to speak out against abuse.

You can help. Read what other bloggers have said about abuse. Listen to victims speak about their abuse. Spread the word that banning books is wrong, and banning SPEAK is harmful. Here's a few places to start:

SPEAK when you can, but always be willing to LISTEN.


  1. Thank you for your post, Tawnya! I appreciate and agree with everything you say.

  2. I so agree with you, Tawnya! Thank you for posting this. Talking about abuse and reading about abuse does not condone it, it helps bring the issue out into the light so we can be more knowledgeable about how fight it and how to recover from it. It can help victims see that they are not alone, they are not to blame, and they need not be afraid or ashamed to share the truth or seek assistance.

  3. Thanks, Tawnya. I totally agree with you. There are books that I'm not comfortable having my kids read (especially when they're younger), but I'd like to make that choice myself. More often than not, when the issue has come up at school, I'll read the book first and realize it's a great launching point for discussion with my kids. Maybe that's why I read so much YA!