Friday, August 20, 2010

This sucks

So Ellen Hopkins has been banned again. This time from a Teen book festival in Texas. Here is a link to her discussion on livejournal: In response to this, Pete Hautman and number of YA authors have dropped out of the festival in protest. Hopkin's novels, written in verse, deal with very serious topics including drug addiction, teenage prostitution, suicide and sexual abuse. She doesn't beat around the bush and her novels are raw and intense. It is understandable that some people might be offended by these topics, which is fine, they don't have to read them. But when the put their personal views upon the general population, specifically the teenage audience, they are doing an extreme disservice to readers everywhere. Two things really upset me about this.
1) The initial complainer was a librarian. Librarians are supposed to support free speech, intellectual freedom, and are under no circumstances supposed to encourage banning books. WTF? It is one of the specific statements, in the American Library Association code of ethics, that "We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources." Additionally, "We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources." What this librarian did was wrong and in direct violation of her post. And I can't believe that the superintendent didn't take into consideration ANY of the other opinions, except hers and a few parents. OI.
2) Kids really like Hopkins books. While censorship is always wrong and should be frowned upon intently, sometimes the books that are opposed to aren't in wide circulation. But Hopkin's novels have a large audience, and I have met literally hundreds of kids who eagerly await her newest books. To deny them what could be a life changing moment, where they get to meet this esteemed author, is wrong. I remember when I was growing up I met two of my favorite authors, Lois Lowry and Yoko Kawashima Watkins, and what a profound affect this had on me as a child. These poor kids will never experience that.

Also, while I totally support the other authors who dropped out in protest, and I think they are doing the right thing, I can't help but feel so bad for the children and teens who are now missing out here. What message are we sending to these readers? Who is really being hurt here? Certainly Ms. Hopkins is saddened by these events, but the young adults who her visit would affect are the real losers in this situation. WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

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