Monday, 20 September 2010

Speak. Loudly.

Dear Blog,
I am one of the (no doubt hundreds) of bloggers and twitterers (tweeters?) who is totally outraged by this article, which you've probably read by now.  The main cause for my anger is that the article, written by a Dr. Wesley Scroggins, is "soft pornography." 
Yes, I mean  a book that deals with the aftermath of the rape of a teenage girl.  The idea that it is anything else is, excuse my language, utter crap.
I quote from the article here-

In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography.

Um, excuse me?! Either he hasn't read it, and is just acting on complaints of other parents, or he is very disturbed if he finds that rape is 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.
I seriously doubt that this Wesley Scroggins, the writer of the article, has even read Speak.  Unless I missed something, then there's only one rape scene in the book.  And it isn't even graphic. It's more about what Melinda feels like, and what's going through her head. Nay, I suppose any readers 13+ could read the book.
And, what, then?  We read about sexual assault in newspapers and on the television and the radio- so why should books be any different? What world does Scroggins live in if he thinks that such novels corrupt our safe, happy childhood innocence?
It makes you wonder what Scroggins was like as a teenager, actually.  Another part of the article proceeds to talk about the evils of sex education being taught to eighth-graders, to which I can only say; better we young'uns know about the, erm, ways of the world than we don't.  The teenage pregnancy rate here in England is the highest in Europe. Surely Scroggins' way of wanting to keep us all in the dark is only encouraging that?

The very idea of banning Speak  is to my mind ludicrous.  Speak has helped many people come to terms with all shapes and sizes of abuse since it was first published in 1999.  It faces the brutal truth, which otherwise would be just swept under the carpet and left there for years, silent, smoldering into nothingness like the unspoken (that's the poet in me coming out), which Melinda tries so hard to hide in Speak.  But you know what the message is? There's a clue in the title.  Speak up. 

The article also attacks Twenty Boy Summer and  Slaughterhouse-Five, neither of which I've actually read, but, still.  Slaughterhouse is one of those Great Works of Literature everybody praises, but of which Groggins says " a book that contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame. The "f word" is plastered on almost every other page."
 Does he honestly think that teenagers have never encountered swearing?  We hear far worse things on the streets and in schools than between pages of books. 
There are almost 300 comments on the article, however, most of which argue against Croggins. And as well as a multitude of blog entries (here and here and several other  places too) on the subject and a twitter thread, #SpeakLoudly.  So, well, yay for all the people who are standing up to Scroggins and speaking. Loudly.  

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