Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Banning: Coming To A Town Near You

I'm starting to think it's me.

First, a school visit from Ellen Hopkins got cancelled in Norman, OK, just a few miles from where my parents lived at the time. Then, Ellen got disinvited from the Humble ISD Teen Lit Fest, to which I had also been invited and in a district just a few miles from where I used to live in Houston, TX. Now it's Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Ockler getting trashed in the News-Leader in Springfield, MO, the town where I went to high school.

Seriously, maybe I'm the Banned Book Fairy and I don't even know it.

What bothers me most about these, and all censorship situations, is that a very narrow minority is trying to decide what others can/cannot or should/should not read because they know better. They believe teens are incapable of thinking for themselves, incapable of discerning the difference between rape and sex, between smart choices and dumb ones, between right and wrong. If a parent hasn't raised their kid to know the difference between right and wrong, then stopping them from reading a book isn't going to prevent the train wreck.

The good news is that every time one of these small minded, book banning, brainwashing, goosestepping goobers steps out into the public spotlight, there are hundreds of us open-minded, banned book reading, intellectual freedom loving, think for yourself advocates to raise our voices in protest.

And thanks to the internet and the real-time news distribution that happens on Twitter and Facebook, we can spread the word fast and wide.

When Ellen's event got cancelled in Norman, she went anyway and held an alternative event, speaking to a huge crowd at Hillsdale Baptist College. When Ellen got disinvited from Humble, several of the other authors involved, including me, withdrew from the festival rather than show any level of support for this kind of censorship. And when the Springfield newspaper posted the book banning opinion piece, they got almost 500 comments and posted a response from Laurie a few days later.

As readers, writers, and consumers, we have two weapons in our arsenal against censorship: the power of the dollar and the power of the word. Next time you hear about a book or an author getting banned, break out your power tools. Buy the banned book and read it or give it away. Write a blog post or an email or a Tweet, and spread the word. Speak loudly.

Because, in the end, when one of us loses intellectual freedom, we all do.




stephhale said...

Great post, Tera. So sorry you couldn't dazzle all those teens with your charm and wit because of some numskulls. :)

Tina Lynn said...

Huzzah! Well said! If I had the moolah right now, I'd buy out all my local bookstore's copies and give them away. Srsly. This stuff needs to stop.

erica and christy said...

Very nicely said. Thank you.

nymfaux said...

I hate to sound like a broken record, but great post, and very well said!!!