As I'm sure most of you know, the book world has been abuzz lately as several attempts at censorship have been thrust into prominence. First, there was the Ellen Hopkins fiasco, and now a gentlemen named Scroggins has written an article calling out several "filthy" books, berating the authors for the havoc they are inflicting on the country's youth. Now, I'm going to set aside the first amendment issue as I feel it's been thoroughly and eloquently argued into exhaustion and I cannot possible make an argument in it's favor that hasn't already been brilliantly made.
Instead, I'd like to focus on the power of the written word. People like Scroggins, dare I say small minded people of his similar ilk, who have perhaps had the blessing of living a life that has been free of abuse (drug, physical, mental or otherwise) can't possibly understand that a book pertaining to that subject matter could be anything other than harmful in the hands of a teenager. I would never wish such abuse on anyone to inspire understanding, but I can think of a hundred ways a book like that would be and is a blessing to anyone who wants to read it. People who oppose books with controversial subject matter seem to be convinced that the words on the page depicting awful events are what inspire the lewd, abhorrent, and deviant behavior of today, rather than considering the books merely take a reality that already exists and put it in an format where a lesson can be learned, solace can be found, and healing can possibly begin.
How dare we deny a child, teenager or adult an ally to see them through their pain? For that is what fictional characters are, personal allies we connect to, feel for, and inevitably bond with. Perhaps a young girl who has been raped can take comfort in the fact that she's not alone in her experience, but rather someone else, even a fictional someone, has gone through what she's currently suffering. Maybe that knowledge would be enough to stay the hand of someone considering suicide to escape their pain and anguish. Maybe on a lesser scale, that character provides the much needed warmth they aren't yet able to find in another person due to shame and guilt. Not only is it unfair and unjust to say books of such subject matter are filth, but it's downright cruel. Cruel to those who are suffering through abuse of any kind to make them feel as though a book dealing with their reality is unworthy of reading, that their circumstances are so disgusting they don't even deserve to be recorded in fiction. Instead, these books should be extolled for the accurate depiction of the world around us, however much we wish the truth of the words was not so.
How many times must we argue the same point? Silence only begets silence, and I for one am not content to live in a world of hushed conversations and whispered platitudes.