Monday, September 20, 2010

SPEAK Loudly Against Censorship

Many of you have probably heard about the latest controversy in the book world. Dr. Wesley Scroggins, a professor at Missouri State University, recently wrote an article that was published in the News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri. If you haven't seen the article, I strongly recommend reading it here so that you can see for yourself why everyone is outraged. This man is lobbying for censorship in the schools of Republic, Missori. This man has already succeeded in pulling the classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut from the shelves, and he's working to have the YA favorites Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson removed as well. According to him, students should not be educated about safe sex or homosexuality, among other issues.

Apparently, making sex taboo is a guaranteed way to keep teenagers from experimenting. God forbid we educate them so that when they're faced with tough choices they have the tools to make smart, safe decisions. According to Dr. Scroggins, SPEAK is soft pornography because it features two rape scenes. This is disturbing on several levels. Porn is an industry focused on voyeuristic pleasure, and the fact that Dr. Scroggins equates rape with any degree of enjoyment is horrifying. To get a sense of the far-reaching impact of this topic, I suggest reading this sexual assault statistics page. Furthermore, in trying to silence discussion on the issue, he is closing off channels of recourse that victims otherwise might have had. No victim should be afraid to speak up about his or her story, or speak out against their assailant.

We think we live in a country that left behind prejudice and ignorance long ago. We think we have the freedom of speech. Yet, here is an educated man dictating what the free and independent people of Republic, Missouri can and cannot read. Not only that, but this school board is actually listening to his revolting ignorance! Dr. Scroggins has every right to his opinion, and he even has the right to control what he reads and what his children read - but is it his place to decide what you or your children read? Should our intellectual freedom be stripped away by one ignorant, outspoken man? This is not to say that every book is intended for every age group. Toddlers should obviously not be given free access to erotica, but teenagers need guidance as they form their opinions about the world and learn to be contributing citizens of their country. That's why high school students need to be exposed to educational - if sometimes hard to stomach - literature that deals with real-world issues that each and every teenager will some day face. We can't allow important issues to be censored or shoved aside simply because they're ugly or hard or scary. Just because we pretend not to see it, doesn't mean the problem isn't there.

Banned Books Week is coming up to remind us that this is an ongoing fight. Books that we now consider classic literature, and integral parts of educated culture, were challenged and censored in their own time (and some continue to be controversial to this day). Please take a stand against ignorance and blind censorship. Stand up for your right to choose, and an author's right to tell their story and voice their opinion. Don't let one man bent on control overrule their right to free speech. There are several ways you can join the fight:

Share your opinions on the Twitterfeed #SpeakLoudly, started by an English teacher from Indiana named Paul Hankins in response to this controversy

Submit a letter to the editor of News-Leader, the paper that published this article

You can view Laurie Halse Anderson's response on her website, and many across the book blogosphere have posted reactions as well: Natalie at Mindful Musings (who has a link list to other bloggers' posts), and Tori at Book Faery - plus many others. You can also check out the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Someone on the Twitter #SpeakLoudly feed suggested everyone buy a copy of SPEAK to get it back on the bestseller lists, and The Book Faery is hosting a SPEAK giveaway to help the cause. I think this is a great idea, and it inspired me to host a giveaway of my own.

SPEAK Loudly Giveaway

I'm giving away one copy of SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson and one copy of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. This contest is open internationally, as long as Book Depository ships to you. You can see the list of where they ship here.

To enter, leave a comment with your email address and a link to a place where you've spoken out about censorship and banned books - on Scroggins' article, on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, somewhere and anywhere. Or, tell me (honestly) that you sent a letter to the News-Leader editor, or to the Superintendent or Principal at Republic High. Help raise awareness in some shape or form.

I'll draw the two winners via at midnight EST on October 2 (the last day of Banned Books Week).


Emilie said...

I fully agree with everything you say. This man has no right to dictate what is appropriate for me or anyone else to read, apart from his own family. It's sad to think that today when they encourage us to have open minds on so many different issues there are people out there who are essentially trying to have to issues silenced. It's absolutely ridiculous.


You can see my opinion on my blog:


Roof Beam Reader said...

I'm just confused by this man's credentials. Isn't he a professor of management or some other business-related field? How exactly is he qualified to expound on literature or education? Ah, but of course, anyone who writes an article and signs it "Dr. so-and-so" must know what they're talking about.

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

Fabulous post, Casey! I especially liked that you included all of the ways people can take action. Thanks for having the courage to speak out!

I wrote about my opinions here.


toni said...

Great post. I wasn't aware of any of this, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I fully agree with you about facing up to important issues instead of ignoring them and pushing them away. It's just not right.

SusanKMann said...

Fantastic post, I fully agree and need to read Speak. I have been reading more and more about it and the censoring I wasn't aware of. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Smash Attack! said...

Thanks for being a part of this important topic! I spoke out here: (and an older post here: I recently had a guest post on censorship here:

SmashAttackReads at gmail dot com

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Thank you all for taking the time to read what I have to say! I'm glad to see the blogosphere banding together like they are in response to Scroggins' insanity =) I'm finding all of your posts insightful and absolutely true!

Roof Beam Reader - Apparently, being a Christian parent justifies him in forcing his religious views on the community. At least, that seems to be his opinion.

~M.A.CHASE said...

Thank you so much for being part of the cause! I too wrote something against censorship;



Kate said...

Great Blog! I remember reading Speak in high school when it was first published. It's such an insightful and heartbreaking book. I hate when books are challenged/banned. What ever happened to freedom of speech/reading? Feel free to check out my blog at

amandawk said...

I have been tweeting @amandawk and I plan on blogging about this.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Meredith said...

My tweet in support of Speak Loudly ( and my post for last year's Banned Books Week (

The Itzel Library said...

I haven´t read Speak. But I´ve read Twenty Boy Summer and I think is amazing, it´s an unforgettable book. I don´t understand how it´s possible to prohibit this type of book. And everything that man said I find it quite objectionable. I joined the campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Although I live in Mexico, I don´ like that such things happen.


Take care,


Aik said...

I tweeted here:

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I love your post here! I am writing banned book posts all week and here was todays:

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

I haven't posted about this topic on my blog, because I know half of what I'll say will be curse words. I don't trust myself to be speak up with words, lest I slander the protest.

I have, however, tweeted about it quite a few times and all three of my accounts (yeah, I'm a bit obsessed?)

And have spoken with 3 of my local librarians to spread the word.


Png said...

This post is interesting,

I don't have a blog nor a twitter,etc.

But I do want to read the book.

fingers crossed,


Badass Bookie said...

I really glad that bloggers are taking this seriously because we should all be able to read whatever we want. No one should even state their opinion about whether we should read this or that!!! Part of reading is the enjoyment and the freadom to choose what we want to read! We can't choose how well we read or whether we like reading or not but we should have the right to read what we want!!!

I been tweeting my opinion all week! here's alink to one of them -

Fantastic Post!

Jasmine1485 said...

I read the original article and have read many blog posts on the topic over the past couple of weeks. There are few things I hate more than being told by someone I don't even know, what I can or can't do. I've tweeted about the topic, here's some links:

Kate1485 at

Ashley said...

I am so happy to see so many people speaking out against this.... person.

My post is here:

I plan to review Speak later this week, and I did write a letter to the editor as well.

basicallyamazingbooks [at]

Brianna Bruce said...

I have never seen so many members of an artistic community stand up for something so important. This makes me so proud to be apart of book bloggers! Here is my post on my thoughts concerning the Scroggins controversy and Speak, which I wrote for my blog Lit Castle in the Clouds:


I hope that I'll win! : )

Cass (Words on Paper) said...

OH wow this is a great contest!

I've been tweeting about this all week...

Here is one:

cc932005 at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I tweeted about it a bit, I'll go grab a link to one of my comments.

Anonymous said...

I have spoken out about Speak! I don't think one dickhead should decide what I can and cannot read. Fine if he won't allow his children to read it. But that doesn't mean he gets to make the choice for me or anyone else!

Thank you for the contest and thank you for speaking out!


Ashley said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

I tweeted:!/ashleybookshelf/status/25934998793


Also don't forget to check out my amazing giveaways located at the top of my blog posts.

Ashley's Bookshelf

meitha said...

wow .what an amazing giveaway ..thanks very very much
i tweeted this @whisper_heart

please enter me to this giveaway:)

Sarah E said...

I spoke out about censorship:

Please enter me in this giveaway!

familyhistree at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

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