Sunday, 19 September 2010

Rant: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson & the Idiot Who Called It Porn

Before reading this post, you should go read Laurie Halse Andersons journal and this article.

Now, Julie and I both were really pissed off when we read about this so we're both doing posts on the subject.

Just to clarify a few things first:

Rape – noun

1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

Pornography - noun

1. the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2. material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
3. the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction

Now, a quote from the article that that guy wrote (just to refresh your memory/if you haven't read it yet):

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

One such book is called "Speak.""

He then goes prattling on about all of these oh-so-awful things that are addressed in the book... like rape, or dysfunctional families or the fact that there are teenagers that, shockhorror!, attend parties or drink or maybe even have sex.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a well written, powerful and incredibly moving book about a girl who struggles to deal with the aftermath of her rape as well as dealing with starting high school, friend problems and family issues.

The story is heartbreaking and what makes it even more heartbreaking is that it's realistic. Things that happen in the book, things that Melinda feels and goes through - there are so many people out there that can relate to it (myself being one of them)... and this book, it has the power to help those people and to open the eyes of the people who haven't experienced anything like that. The reason some schools study it, is because it is an educational book and people can learn a lot from it.

And I don't know about you, but I think if that moron is claiming that Speak is in any way "pornographic" - then I think that says a lot more about him than it ever could about the book.

The rape scene in the book isn't graphic, we don't get all the gory and horrifying details of what the character went through shoved down our throats - it happened, that's all we need to know and that's all we're told about it. The focus is on Melinda's emotions, not the act.

Seriously... he thinks rape, a brutal crime, is pornographic? He thinks that is in any way supposed to be erotic? Dude, he has issues. Major issues.

Rape happens. The stuff that happen in the book happen every day to regular teenagers. Like I said, it's a realistic story, sadly... and thing's like that, they shouldn't be swept under the rug as if they don't exist in the world, because they do.

There are gay people in the world.
There are teenagers who get pregnant or get STD's.
There are plenty of dysfuctional families in the world.
There are people dealing with self harm and drug addiction.
There are teenagers who swear and go to parties...

What does this guy want? For us to pretend that none of that stuff happens? To force kids to just read books about ponies and rainbows and butterflies? Or perhaps he just wants them reading the bible? But from what I've heard, there's a lot of brutal stuff mentioned in the bible too (I wouldn't know, I'm Agnostic, so I've never felt the desire to read it cover to cover).

If he thinks that Speak is in some way inappropriate (or "soft porn" as he put it - seriously, the guy has issues), then fair enough... that is his opinion. Opinions are subjective but he has no right whatsoever to try and dictate what other peoples children should or should not get to read or have included in their education - his own kids (if he has any), that's fair enough, but not other peoples. And he shouldn't be using religion to justify his messed up views.

I wonder if he has even read the books he's bitching about - from the sounds of it, it doesn't seem like he has. I truly hope that he hasn't because if he had read Speak and still called it porn, then that disturbs me beyond belief.

I've just been focussing on what he said about Speak, specifically in this post... but the guy also complains about Slaughterhouse Five (because "The "f word" is plastered on almost every other page." among other things - well FUCK that... sorry, couldn't resist. I am sorry if that bad, bad word offended anyone, maybe corrupted someones innocence or made them suddenly start cussing like the devil).

As well as those two books, he talks about Twenty Boy Summer too, which I haven't read yet but I'm pretty sure my co-blogger has and this may come as a shock to that guy, but she didn't start going to parties and drinking or having mass orgies or anything after reading it... she has a brain, I'm sure that would surprise article guy (perhaps I should've remembered his name?) because he seems to be deluding himself to thinking that all teenagers are stupid and so easily impressionable that they'll do whatever they read in a book (for the record, Twenty Boy Summer isn't about sex/orgies/parties/drinking).

Another quote from his *lovely* article:

"I confronted the school board with these issues at the June school board meeting. As far as I know, nothing has been done to address these issues to date. This is unacceptable, considering that most of the school board members and administrators claim to be Christian. How can Christian men and women expose children to such immorality? Parents, it is time you get involved!"

And it's time for him to mind his own damn business. If he has a problem with how his own children are being educated then he could find another school he thinks is more suitable.

Again, he has absolutely no right to complain about how other people choose to have their children educated and that preachy asshole (oh dear, I swore again - oops?) has no right at all to question other peoples faith in their religion (to be honest, isn't God the only one that has the right to judge people? Like I said, I'm Agnostic, but if I was Christian then I wouldn't be using that as an excuse to judge and criticize people).

Maybe he didn't consider the fact that some people would rather have their kids educated about what the world is REALLY like than have them living in ignorance and then paying for it later (e.g. forcing the kids to have abstinence only education and then getting pregnant or an STD somewhere down the line because they weren't taught about how to prevent it) - books don't encourage people to go out and do what is on the pages... especially the kinds of books he's bitching about, if anything they show why you shouldn't do stuff like that.

I wish people like him would give kids a bit more credit. They don't go around living their lives with a "monkey see, monkey do" mentality where whenever they see or hear or read something they feel they should imitate it - they're smarter than that.

Done ranting now. Here is a video of Laurie reading out a fantastic poem she wrote about the reader response she's recieved for Speak over the years:

If you haven't read Speak, then you should. It really is an amazing book.


P.s. sorry if I offended anyone with my... colourful language. When I'm angry, I tend to swear more than normal, I held back on that in the post but... yeah. I don't understand why he's making such a fuss about that though - it's not like kids won't hear it anyway in real life.


  1. *high five* from one agnostic to another!

    I don't mind swearing, I dropped a ton of F-bombs in my post about this issue as well.

    What a jerk, to propagate rape as pornography!

  2. Ok, I'm a devout Orthodox Catholic, and I have nothing against Speak whatsoever. In fact, I think it's one of the most influential books of our generation. I'm so angry that he uses Christianity to condemn this book when it's the act of rape that's immoral, not the depiction of survival and overcoming such an atrocious act.

    His ignorance is so evident in his unfounded accusations and discussion of something he knows nothing about. How dare he compare rape to pornography. Ugh!

  3. I like that you posted the definitions of rape and pornography. Considering they are NOT the same thing.

    I really have to agree with you and think that this man has not actually read the books in which he is referring to.

  4. I really wish I could just apologize to everyone for all of the ignorant people out there using Christianity as an excuse to judge and condemn people because that is exactly the OPPOSITE of what Jesus wanted for humanity. It sickens my heart. I am lover of book and literature and I think these things should be not be censored. Anyone recall the book burnings in Nazi Germany? I mean really? What about The Scarlet Letter- that's about adultry- why don't we censor that? Hell- let's censor Shakespeare because people kill each other and themselves in his plays- isn't that immoral? How about Poe? You could go on and on and on about immoral subjects in literature... Gah. Sorry. I won't continue my rant here, but wow this made me so angry. Good job on calling this dude out. Keep it up!

  5. What really got me was the "How can Christian men and women expose children to such immorality?" Who's to say everyone is Christian? And it surely does NOT seem like he's read the books he's complaining about.

    I haven't read Speak but I've heard nothing but great things about it. I actually plan on reading it tonight (it's been sitting in my TBR pile for a few months now).

    I don't understand what he plans to accomplish by banning Speak.

  6. Anyone wanting to censor a book should first have to pass a comprehensive test on said book to prove to us they've actually read it.

    And NO multiple choice. All essays.

    (Scroggins needs summer school. And a field trip to an archaeological dig to shake hands with evolution, but that's another story.)

    Thanks for speaking out about this. I've never read Speak, but I'm sure there are thousands of kids out there who would benefit from the read.

  7. My son had to read this crap for school and when he told me about it, I read it over the weekend. This book is total crap. Oh look and my world, it's so dark and dreary. So much freaking steotypes in this book, it's not even funny. So the classics I assume are dead now huh? No more Moby Dick, Shakespeare, no more Tolstoy or Twain, they jsut are not cool enough. They dont have enough sex rape and drinking in them. And kids wonder why the world is so messed up and we give them this trash to read. Pathetic.

  8. @Anonymous, if you didn't like the book then that's fair enough, you're entitled to your opinion... but I think you'll find that the classics still are read in school -- but for all you know, 100 years from now there will be a whole new batch of books considered classics that are worthy of being studied in school.

    With Speak, it had a good message -- either you missed it, or don't consider it a lesson worth learning, but either way, that doesn't give people like Scroggins the right to speak for everyone or try and censor other peoples children.

    Opinions are subjective, a million people could love a book while ten people hate it and neither are wrong... but the ten that didn't like it don't have the right to try and get it banned.

    And if you read Speak, can you honestly say that you think the subject of rape is "soft pornography" as the wannabe-book-banner says?

    Oh, and for the record - I truly hope your child never has to experience something bad like the character does in the book with an attitude like yours... the character was raped, what did you expect? Rainbows and butterflies? Of course it's going to be "dark and dreary"

    And the world being messed up has nothing to do with the books children read in school -- just switch on the news or pick up a news paper and you'll see the world is doing just fine going to hell on it's own without the aid of literature.

  9. Great post! Anyone that confuses rape with porn is an idiot! They are clearly not the same thing. It sickens me to think anyone can feel that way. Scroggins is an idiot. I am against banning books period. and you're right about the bible. If we started banning books because of the 'harsh content' then the bible would be banned as well. I am a Christian and it upsets me that he would say he is one, but call other people out on their beliefs. Scoggins does not speak for me. As a parent I understand his need to protect his children but he is going about it in the wrong way. This is the world we live in. It is far from perfect and full of heartache. I feel sorry for his children, they are going to get a rude awakening when they enter the 'real world'. I could rant about this for hours, but I won't. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue.

  10. Perhaps anonymous if you were so passionate about being so inconsiderate you could have started of your hmm lets see... with your actual name!? You obviously seem to have completely failed to notice the message in the book, it tackles rape, are you telling me a girl being raped isn't a vital issue to talk about? Call me rude but i can't comprehend how you can be so clueless and ignorant, Drinking, sex drugs, it's all reality and unless you live in La La land that is. lets hope your children don't become one of those who manage to relate to this "total crap" to well huh, good luck with that! :)

  11. Please one more post about that.I wonder how you got so good. This is really a fascinating blog, lots of stuff that I can get into. One thing I just want to say is that your Blog is so perfect

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