When I sat down on Sunday morning to write my blog post about the book banning in Republic, MO, I had no idea what I started.
You – my readers – changed the world this week.
It started when Paul Hankins, an English teacher in Indiana, started a dedicated Twitter feed, #speakloudly, to spread the word about the banning. The word spread quickly and it became one of the most Tweeted topics of the weekend.
EVERYONE spoke loudly. Thousands of people linked to my post and recommended it on Facebook and on their own blogs. One social media expert said that based on the Facebook recommendations alone, he estimated that 350,000 heard about the banning.
As if all of that weren’t astounding enough, many readers posted their own stories about being silenced, about being sexually assaulted, about speaking up, about being a Christian tired of seeing other Christians invoking the Bible as justification for censorship, and about how Speak changed their lives.
If I said “thank you” every minute for the next hundred years of my life, it would not be enough gratitude for this outpouring of support and for your loud defense of the freedom to read, to think, and to speak up. I will hold that gratitude in my heart forever. And probably burst into tears whenever I meet one of you. (Please bring Kleenex if you’re coming to hear me speak on my next tour.)
(For the record, as all of this has been happening, I’ve been traveling for meetings and a bookseller trade show. Thank goodness for wireless connections!!)
Here is the latest from Republic, MO.
The local newspaper ran an article in which Scroggins, the book banner, claimed he never called the challenged books “pornography.” This, despite the fact that he clearly did in both his editorial and his original complaint to the school board.
The newspaper also ran my editorial, in which I set the record straight about Speak, and Sarah Ockler’s editorial, in which she defended her book, Twenty Boy Summer, and said some very smart things about the freedom to read. AND the editors of the newspaper ran a wonderful editorial encouraging their readers to use this kerfuffle as a teachable moment for their community. I am sending twenty copies of each of the challenged books to the libraries down there.
I feel bad that I have not been able to spend more time advocating for Twenty Boy Summer and Sarah Ockler. Sorry, Sarah!!! So let me do that now. Read Sarah’s blog and send her lots of love and huzzahs for defending our rights. And for writing great books. Sarah is running a contest on her blog. The winners get a Filthy Books Prize Pack, which includes copies of all three challenged books.
Kurt Vonnegut is not in a position to actively blog about this. But this essay will give you a sense of what he might say if he were with us today.
So it goes….