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For Scout and Tango and Melinda and the rest of my Challenged and Banned Friends

September 29, 2010

This may be a short entry because what i have to say seems pretty basic to me.

It’s Banned Books Week.  This is both exciting and disgusting.  i love watching my Twitter feed fill with the voices of wonderfully intelligent people coming together in opposition to something so so so important.  i loathe the fact that we need to have this week.

And while i want to use this as a place for writing talk and book talk and the like, there’s something else and if you’ll bear with me maybe you’ll be able to follow my connection between the two.

Four.  It doesn’t seem like a huge number unless you’re talking about gallons of milk you have to drink in a day, or days of staying awake or human lives.  Yeah, human lives.  This month, only this month, there have been four gay teenagers bullied and harassed to the point of suicide.  i am at a loss for words.  One is too many.

So here’s the thing, those kids felt alone.  Maybe like they were the only one who understood what they were going through.  Maybe like there wasn’t a single person to talk to or who would listen or who had ever experienced something similar.

And there are people of all ages that feel like that every single day.  i know i have those times.  Do you know where i’ve found more comfort than almost anyplace else?  In books.  They let me escape and they show me that someone somewhere else gets it.  It might sound silly but i consider fictional characters to be some of my closest friends.  i’ve cried for them, gotten angry for them, yelled at other characters, laughed with them, and hugged the book itself.

HOWEVER, it makes it really hard to meet these friends when people try to keep other people from reading certain books just because it isn’t right for them personally.  This means that the people who most need some of those words of comfort and strength might never see them.

Now i’m going to let you in on a secret: i don’t like every book in the world.  Are you surprised?  When i was in school i was supposed to read Dracula by Bram Stoker.  I read about one hundred pages and had such terrible nightmares that i stopped.  i faked my way through my response paper and obviously decided not to do any sort of large project involving it.  i can’t handle scary stuff.  But there were people in my class that thought Dracula was the best book we read all semester.  We may have had some awesome and silly discussions about our love or hate of the book but we never once thought to keep the other from reading it or anything else.

Sometimes the world just makes me so sad.  i’m glad i have you out there spreading awesome.  And that i have all of my fictional friends doing the same.

If you want to find out more check out:

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/21stcenturychallenged/index.cfm

(Lots of links to the left to see what authors have been challenged or what classics or the crazy reasons your favorite book has been banned.)

http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject

And remember books are one of the best ways to educate yourself on things you don’t understand.  Education is the first step in making things better. i know it sounds cheesy but it’s the truth.

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2 comments

  1. I never understood and still don’t understand why people think it’s right to bully someone just because they’re different from them. It makes me angry. I want to ask those bullies why they are so threatened by someone else’s sexuality? Does it physically or psychological harm them if the person standing next to them is gay? Does it even matter? About 68 years ago people of Japanese descent in America, much like myself, were herded to concentration camps. Haven’t we learned from this or more so even the recent civil rights movements? There shouldn’t even be a dichotomy between gay and straight or black and white. People are people, humans are humans. Society seems to put everything at odds, creating these false dichotomies. If you want to celebrate the fact that you are of different culture or show some pride in your Ancestry or Sexuality, by all means you should have every right to do it. But, to persecute someone just because they are not the same as you should be condemned. Those bullies and all bullies should feel ashamed. On a side note: Your comment about not liking every book in the world reminded me of this Stephen King quote (Yeah I’m on a kick). “One learns most clearly what not to do by reading bad prose–one novel like Asteroid Miner… is worth a semester at a good writing school, even with the superstar lecturers thrown in”.


  2. […] know i’ve written around this before, here, and here, and here, and here, and here.   i guess that should say something in itself.  BUT i’m […]



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