Really? Again? SPEAK labelled pornography



Oh, for heavens sakes.

A guy named Richard Swier in Florida thinks that SPEAK is “child pornography.”

I wish I were making that up.

SPEAK is cautionary tale about the emotional aftermath of rape. It tackles bullying, depression, rape, sexual harassment, and family dysfunction. It teaches children that when bad things happen, they need to speak up, even when it’s hard. It has given hope to tens of thousands of readers since 1999. It is a standard in curriculum across the country.

Swier’s quest would be laughable except that there are a couple of uninformed people who think that he knows what he’s talking about. Since he has picked apart my work, let me return the favor.

In this “article” (and I use that term loosely), Dick tries the fan the flames of horror. 

(Note to people who want to burn my book but can’t be bothered to read it in order to track down the swear words. Swier has done your job for you, complete with page references. Great job, Dick!)

Dick is a Tea Party activist. He has a lot of fascinating opinions. Writing for the Tea Party Nation in 2011, he said “The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population in America is headed for extinction and with it our economy, well-being and survival as a uniquely America culture.”

Dick says the bullying of LGBT kids is not bullying, “It is peer pressure and is healthy. There are many bad behaviors such as smoking, under age drinking and drug abuse that are behaviors that cannot be condoned. Homosexuality falls into this category. Homosexuality is simply bad behavior that youth see as such and rightly pressure their peers to stop it.”

He also thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House.

A round of applause, please, for the review committee at Laurel Nokomis School in Sarasota County, Florida, who, according to their policy, reviewed the book and decided to keep it.

The challenge now moves to the district level.



18 Replies to “Really? Again? SPEAK labelled pornography”

  1. You know, the scariest part to me were the comments. Apparently as long as we’re fantastic parents who teach our children values, nothing bad will EVER happen to them. Wow. So I guess all those children on the Missing and Exploited Children lists just had really bad parents. I hope the children of the commenters have a better grasp of reality than their parents’ do.

  2. So, if I’m understanding correctly, your “response” to Mr. Swier’s article is not to address his concerns but to attack him personally?

  3. I don’t think you’re understanding her correctly. She didn’t attack him personally. She only pointed out some of the things that he said ( factual or misunderstood -because rape is not the same as porn). Any flaws of his character that come from these comments are his own doing.

  4. This is what always gets me about the community members and parents that try to don a cape to protect kids from the world: they only see what they want to see. But the thing is, young adults experience the world despite what mom and dad wish the world would be. Teens swear. Young women are raped. Adolescents experience the pain of losing friends and family members to suicide, murder, bullying, and disease. And guess what, when books deal with these very real issues in a sugary, perfectly glossed way, teens call b.s. Books that deal with real issues in real ways, like Laurie’s do, have the most positive impact on our young people. They can learn to handle issues and navigate life better and become more empathetic humans. Oh, and teens are reading, which is the MOST beneficial activity in promoting literacy. I’m yet to hear of porn that does any of those things for anyone. YA lit forever!!!

  5. Stupidity scares me. Especially when it writes. Poorly. Sit down Dick…your time is up.

    Laurie, keep doing what you do. #favoriteauthorever

  6. I am heartened that some of the commenters at the original post have called the good “Dr.” on his idiotic mantra that this is “child porn.”

    As for me, although I am primarily a middle grade writer and reader, I am eager now to read SPEAK. Aloud, and to my older children.

  7. As a high school media specialist I can honestly say your books save lives. I have heard you speak several times (AASL, ALAN, etc.) and am grateful for your voice that touches teenagers where nobody else can break through. KEEP WRITING Laurie Halse Anderson!

  8. Laurie, I am a huge fan of your writing. I’ve read Speak, and as a Teen Librarian I’ve defended it to many parents, while promoting it to their children eager to read it. I am many things – a wife, mother, librarian, friend, former social worker, American history buff. I fight censorship inside and outside of public libraries. I’m also a member of the North Oakland County Tea Party Patriots located in northern Oakland County, MI. We are not racists. We are not haters. We are a mix of educated, informed individuals who are deeply concerned about the country, the current state of liberty, and the Constitution. The media have portrayed the Tea Party, as a group of narrow minded, bigoted, gay hating racists and that is not an accurate portrayal. I felt obliged to comment when you mentioned Dr. Richard Swier was a Tea Party member. He is but one man. I will not deny that there may be some Tea Party groups who use their political party to advance hate, but the majority of Tea Partiers do not. May I respectfully suggest you look at the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives and the Frederick Douglass Republicans Facebook pages? Keep up the good censorship fight, Laurie. I’ll stand beside you. Signed, Jeanette Marks.

  9. Thank you, Jeanette, for your thoughtful comment.

    The reason that I raised the point of his Tea Party membership is that he so strongly connects himself with the organization, both in his writings and where he publishes them.

    When we deal with censorship it is important to understand if the challenge of the book is coming from an individual (often a concerned parent) or if it is part of a larger effort, such as PABBIS. This was the first time I’d seen a would-be censor so closely identify himself as a Tea Party member and I feel that is significant. When someone calls me a “pornographer” you had better believe I want to understand who that person is and what he stands for.

    As the Tea Party matures it will be interesting to watch how the membership decides to take larger positions on issues like this.

    I appreciate your support and your willingness to talk about this!

  10. The more I think about this the madder I get. This among other things is one more example of why school districts in the state of Florida need to stop eliminating certified library media specialists who can lead students in an educated & skillful way to books meaningful to situations life presents.

  11. my son read that book and his comment was: every teen needs to read this! He felt it would open kid’s eyes to effects of bullying, hateful language, harassment and that it is an important book. He also predicted it would hit the “banned and censored” list because its message hits too close to the truth.

  12. Oh boy.

    One of the things I was most impressed with about SPEAK was that it was gritty without reveling in the gross. Melinda’s struggle was absolutely heart-wrenching, but her story ultimately so hopeful. How could this novel be anything but a lantern of hope to those who’ve suffered abuse or rape?

    Anyway… here is one Christian reviewer who applauds your work and fervently recommends this story to others.

    Write on, girlfriend!!

  13. Judging from “the homophobe, misogynist, xenophobe” descriptor in the Twitter feed that brought me to this post, I’m understanding perfectly.

  14. I cannot speak for all Tea Party groups, but the one I belong to fights censorship. Keep up the good fight, Laurie.

Comments are closed.