So, there has been a hoopla about Ellen Hopkin's being disinvited from coming to the Teen Lit Fest hosted by Humble School District. As I actually teach in this district and have worked with librarians in this district. I'm getting kind of annoyed about some of the things that people are saying about us.
First off, we have excellent librarians! Excellent! On my campus my librarian is brillant and helpful to students. I have mentioned her in passing on this blog. She is the one that lets my borrow all the awesome ARCs, and gets books into the hands of our teenagers. She reads and reccomends challenging literature to the students. As in I've seen her encourage students to read books that deal with the topic of gay teens, poloygamy, and even specifically Ellen Hopkin's books.
I am totally all about clean reads on this blog. I believe strongly that our kids need to read clean books as well as nasty ones. They should be able to choose and my blog is about making it easier to find and to read clean books. I really do think that some topics are totally inappropriate to read about because I think they are spiritually and emotionally damaging. This opinion is strongly tied to my religious beliefs.
I think too often that people get so gung ho about non-censorship that the idea gets across that anything and everything is appropriate for everyone. I strongly believe that this is not true. Children, espeically elementry children, should be protected by the adults in their lives from inappropriate information. Studies have show that exposure to information that is not developmentally appropriate for kids can leave permanant detremental effects on how they develop heathly relationships later in life.
I also strongly believe that pornography in all of it's forms is never ever appropriate in any setting for anyone of any age. It sickens me that is form of filth has become so prevasive in our society, and access to it is so easy. It is an addictive behavior that destorys marriages, and as a result the use of pornography directly impacts the lives of innocent children who have to suffer through the pain of divorce.
It angers me that we will expend our efforts, time, and money to perserve the environment, but that the evil institution of slavery still exists. And it's largest form is that of sexual slavery and prostitution. Yet, we support these forms of entertainment that objectify and denigrate the human mind, body and spirit. When are we going to stand up for these victims and say enough is enough? It is time to stop this plague of fiflth and banish it from our society.
That being said. I do believe very strongly in the freedom of choice, especially for teens. I often do not approve of the things my students choose to read, but there must be a choice. There has to be a choice or the students would no longer have the power to choose what type of people they want to become, and if they do not get to make those choices then our existence is worthless. Our society of formless. We are no better than tools, or keyboards, or shovels moving dirt around.
So, I accept that there will be books I disagree with. That there needs to be books that I disagree with. I admit I've read some, and by doing so I've formed an opinion of what I think is right and wrong. Each person has to make the journey on their own. But all form of entertainment, experience, and substances that cause addiction take away our freedom to make these choices and they are harmful and dangerous: to family, to friends, to teachers, to students, to schools, to government, to nations, to humanity as a whole.
Some censored and challenged books could fall into this catagory. I think most YA books do not.
Somtimes I just feel like someone needs to stand up and say that some forms of entertainment and recreation are just as bad as censorship or worse. They take away our freedom, our humanity, our compassion, and turn the user into a slave. I'm going to be that person today. That is my stance on censorship. We have to be so careful, sometimes we are so weak as humans and we choose exactly that which is most harmful to us.
From what I've heard of Hopkins writing (and I won't read her books. Think....clean reads.) I think that she tries to show the dangers of addiction and how they can destroy lives, the dangers of viewing ourselves and others as objects. I am saddened that the teenagers will not have the chance to meet her at the festival this year, as her experiences are relavant to their lives and choices they have to make at this time. She could be a great asset to them at this time.
But I am more saddened that the festival was cancelled this year. I am saddened that students had to be the ones that lost out in this battle. I am most especially worried that this controversy will stop festivals from happening in the future, because that would lead to more voices being silenced. The Humble Teen Lit Fest has hosted challenged and banned authors before, and I would be disappointed if this situation took out the Festival in one fell swoop, and no authors were heard from in the future.
I have to say that dislike the idea of a boycott in this instance because it takes opprotunities away from the students. I would have liked much more to see something done along the lines of Aprilynne Pike's suggestions.