September 27, 2005

Why fighting the censors matters.

In the current issue of The Book Standard, Young adult author Chris Crutcher has a few choice words for the self-appointed guardians of public morals:

The censorship business has become more contentious. Authors who tell tough stories in tough language push the idea of standing up against some power-freak authority, dare to portray a gay character in a positive light or write about issues that the censors wish didn't exist are vilified. The stories are called obscene, vulgar. Talk about it long enough and the word "evil" will pop up. And make no mistake about it: Ninety-plus percent of the time when I hear one of my books has been challenged or banned, and I chase down the source, the road leads to the entrance of a Christian church. There are Christians out there who don't believe in freedom; who don't believe we are better off bringing hard truths out into the open and discussing them, than pretending they don't exist. Toxic ideas poison the mind, they say. Can?t get 'em out.

And they believe they have the right?the duty?to "protect" everyone from them.

Our schools are filled with kids who have been treated badly all their lives. They don't tell anyone, because there is shame in being treated badly. Many — girls and boys — have been sexually mistreated. Still others struggle in fear with sexual identity. They respond with eating disorders, cutting, suicidal thought or action. I can't tell you how many letters I've received from kids who found a friend in one of my books, a character who speaks to them. And if I get those letters, think of the letters Walter Dean Myers, or Lois Lowry, or Judy Blume get, thanking us for letting them know, through literature, that they are not alone.

In light of all that, there's really only one thing to say to the censors. Shut up.

You can read Crutcher's full article here. His website is here.

Via Blog of a Bookslut.

Posted by Magpie at September 27, 2005 05:07 PM | Censorship | Technorati links |