Today, a little birdie blogged about a pastor in Missouri who wants to ban Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak because it is pornography.
That's right - a man who has professed to spread the love of the Lord has found scenes depicting the rape of a young girl, who subsequently manifests depressive symptoms after her assault and cannot speak about it, as pornography.
That pastor's spreading something, alright, but it's not love. Love says Speak tells the truth, that a girl who has had something terrible happen to her is still a whole person capable of giving and receiving love. That it is not her fault. That we hear her and we listen when she speaks.
Speak was first published as I was graduating college and I didn't read it until this year, ten years later. Melinda is not alone, even if she is a fictional character. I have a friend who was Roofied and woke up in a strange man's bed. Another friend was date-raped by a man who she thought was a friend. Another was sexually abused as a child. They did not speak. Not until much later. One tried to commit suicide, which is how I know about her assault - she told me so I would know why she tried to kill herself. Laurie Halse Anderson could have ended Speak so differently, it could have been so bad, but she chose to end with hope. Hope that Melinda could tell her story and people could understand what happened. They could be her supporters, not her detractors.
Speak tells teens that it is OK to tell someone that you have been assaulted or a loved one has been assaulted. Listen to Laurie Halse Anderson read her Speak Poem created from the letters sent to her from teens who read her book and reached out to her:
What would those teens have done without Speak? Would they have ever told anyone what happened to them?
Pornography is meant to titillate, to arouse. If you consider Speak to be pornographic then you think it is arousing to watch little girls get raped. People who like to rape little girls or watch little girls get raped are pedophiles.
We need to #SpeakLoudly to keep Speak available and accessible to teens. Buy a copy and read it. Borrow it from the library. Loan your copy to a friend. Talk about it with your daughter, son, brother, sister, parent. Watch the movie adaptation with Kristen Stewart.
Don't let someone else speak for you.